Abstract

Numerous scholars have claimed that the Soviet Union was a primary beneficiary of the 1973–1974 oil crisis. Drawing on archival evidence from Russia and Germany, this article challenges that interpretation, showing that the oil crisis forced Soviet policymakers to confront the limits of their energy industry and the effects of the crisis on their East European allies. Demand for Soviet energy outpaced production, forcing Soviet officials to weigh their need to compensate for economic shortcomings at home against their role as the guarantor of Communist rule in Eastern Europe. The Soviet decision to raise prices within the Council on Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA) and the Soviet Union's inability to fulfill demand across CMEA compelled the East European governments to purchase oil from Middle Eastern countries at increasing world market prices, crippling their balance of payments and accentuating their other economic shortcomings.

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