“I believe that Yukos was Putin’s first foray into trying to test the West… and the West fell flat on their faces - they did absolutely nothing to help the Western shareholders in Yukos.” The lack of response from the West during the Yukos Affair encouraged Putin’s tyranny. Putin’s Oil Heist is an insider’s account of the Yukos Affair. In this final episode, Loren Steffy draws a line from the 2022 invasion of Ukraine back to the expropriation of Yukos in the early 2000s, with first-person accounts from former Chief Financial Treasurer, Bruce Misamore.
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The West’s inaction. Yukos, in its bid to embrace Western standards of capitalism in the hopes of gaining a New York Stock Exchange listing, hired Misamore and other American shareholders. But when Putin’s government trumped up tax charges and used them to seize the entire company without compensating those shareholders, the US government did nothing. Misamore claims they could have made government-to-government claims on behalf of the shareholders that were harmed. The West’s failure to act became a pattern in the following years, which only emboldened Putin.
Putin’s grand plans. Had the invasion of Ukraine gone the way he wanted, it’s likely that Putin wouldn’t have stopped there, Misamore contends. Putin regrets the fall of the Soviet Union, and there have been hints throughout his presidency that suggest his intention to revive it. His next logical target, after Ukraine, would have been Moldova, and then the rest of Georgia. The resistance of the Ukranians seems to have halted Putin’s thirst for conquest.
The Russian people. The innocent citizens of Russia are not responsible for the actions of their government. Though Putin has improved their standard of living to keep up his popularity, they could easily be talked into going the other way. However, they’re scared and docile, behavior instilled by centuries of violent history, and they fear the dire consequences of rebellion. In addition, the government’s crackdown on independent media, prevents the people from getting an accurate view of the war in Ukraine.
How the Yukos Affair influenced other companies’ attempts to do business in Russia. One such situation involved a joint venture between BP and the Russian company TNK, which eventually devolved into the same tensions that pervaded the Yukos steal. The Russians bristled at Western efforts to control the operations, which led to reports of break-ins at BP executive Bob Dudley’s Moscow apartment, threats of him being detained, and even word that there was poison found in his blood. Dudley, who later became chairman of BP before retiring in 2020, wound up fleeing Russia and the venture was sold to Rosneft.
Loren Steffy on LinkedIn
Stoney Creek Publishing