June 29, 2021

Ep. 70 – What If Putin Was Hit By A Bus: A Discussion with Dr. Angela Stent

A couple of weeks ago, President Biden met with Russian President Putin in Geneva for their first summit. To help us better understand where Russia has been and where it is going, we reached out to one of the world's foremost Russia experts, Dr. Angela Stent. We were delighted when she agreed to visit with us. Professor Stent is Director of the Center for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies and Professor of Government and Foreign Service at Georgetown University. Dr. Stent is also a non-resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. She has advised both the White House and NATO leadership at the highest levels.

Our discussion crossed many borders and we started with Dr. Stent's latest book, "Putin's World: Russia Against the West and With the Rest." From there, we learned about the lessons Putin drew from his childhood experiences, how modern Russia operates in the geopolitical sphere, how Russian oligarchs might perceive ruthless opportunity in the edges of the "Energy Transition," and most importantly how Putin perceives Russia's legitimacy and proper place among the U.S., the EU, and China and with respect to the Soviet Union's historical sphere of influence. We had a wonderful time and cannot thank Dr. Stent enough for sharing her unique experiences and insights with us. It is exceedingly rare when we can learn directly about Putin from someone who has spoken with him on multiple occasions.

Our TPH crew had some topical items to prepare us for our Russian discussion: Mike Bradley opened with an OPEC+ meeting preview and reviewed what has happened since their last meeting. Matt Portillo chimed in with a look at equity and natural gas outlook and demand through 2022. Colin Fenton situated current conditions in global energy markets with an analysis of five current events that remind us of five current truths: (1) Europe remains dependent on Russian gas, (2) solar firms can fail ESG tests, (3) disruption is an evergreen existential threat in technologically-oriented businesses (in this case, the threat is China's fusion nuclear research), (4) the EU's "world" can often be as rigid and open to contest as Putin's "world," and (5) old dogs may learn new tricks: a geothermal breakthrough in the US could upend each of the first four factors in surprising but not entirely unexpected ways.

We want to sincerely thank Dr. Stent for her time and expertise. Thanks to you all! We hope you enjoy.

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