Ingerid Opdahl

Energy and Russian foreign policy in the CIS 1995–2005

Supervisor: Julian Cooper

In my PhD I investigate how Russian energy companies relate to Russian foreign policy in the CIS. This includes acquiring a broad understanding of state-business ties in Russia, and how they affects the operations of the energy companies and the Russian government in relations with CIS states. I focus on five sectors, and one company in each sector: Inter RAO for electricity, Rosatom (with subsidiaries) for nuclear, Transneft for oil and oil product pipeline transport, Lukoil for oil and Gazprom for gas. How do the companies’ relations with the Russian government inside Russia (including ownership relations) affect their operations outside Russia? Do they drive foreign policy, or are they instruments of government aims? How has this changed over time? Through this investigation I aim to further our understanding of Russian foreign policy, state-business ties in Russia and Russia’s political economy.


I did Russian at school and gradually became interested in studying Russian politics, and specialised first in Russian language and literature and then in political science. Since 2004 I have worked at the Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies, working on Russian foreign policy. In 2007 I had the opportunity to start a PhD financed by my employer, and I chose to go to CREES. The whole family spent an academic year in Birmingham. I am now based in Oslo with a split location and part time status, planning to complete in 2013.


  • cand.polit./political science (University of Oslo) 2004
  • MSc Russian and Post-Soviet Studies LSE 2000
  • cand.mag/Russian language and literature and political science (University of Oslo) 1999

Teaching responsibilities

I teach Russian foreign policy at the Norwegian Defence University College

Research interests 

  • Russian politics
  • Russian foreign policy
  • State-business relations in Russia
  • Russian energy – oil, gas, electricity, nuclear
  • Russian relations with CIS states

Conference papers

“RAO Nordic: A case study of a Russian energy company abroad”, presented at the conference “Energy Challenges in Northern Europe”, Turku Business School, Turku, Finland, 27-29 November 2008.

“Nuclear power, electricity, and Russia’s foreign policy in the CIS”, presented at the CREES Annual conference, Windsor Park, 5-7 June 2009.

“Transneft as a political actor in the former Soviet space”, presented at the seminar “Russian foreign energy policy; Politics or economics?”, the Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies, Solo, Norway, 14 April 2010.

“Russian energy companies in the former Soviet Union: how do their policies connect to Russian foreign policy?” presented at the conference “Fuelling the Future? Assessing Russia’s Role in Eurasia’s Energy Complex”, Aleksanteri Institute, Helsinki, Finland, 27-29 October 2010.


Opdahl, Ingerid M. (2009): ”Book review of Det kaukasiska lackmustestet”, Nordisk Øst.-Forum, 23 (1): 77–80.

Opdahl, Ingerid M. (2008): Georgia og Russland. Et vanskelig naboskap [Georgia and Russia. Difficult neighbour relations]. Oslo Files in Defence and Security 06/2008. Oslo: Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies. Available from

Opdahl, Ingerid M. (2005): ‘A crucial sphere for our security’. Russia in Central Asia after 9/11. Forsvarsstudier 3/2005. Oslo: Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies. Available from

Opdahl, Ingerid M. (2004): Steel and poultry. State-business networks in Russian trade policy. Thesis for the cand.polit. degree. Oslo: Department of political science, University of Oslo. Available from