The Aluminium Wars – RUSAL and New Russian Economic Power

The Aluminium Wars – RUSAL and New Russian Economic Power

Aluminium doesn’t strike many people as an exciting or interesting metal but a new book “Mafia In Black” by Andrei Kalitin outlines a story that was to see the so called “aluminum wars” wage and claim over 100 lives.

From this turbulent period, RUSAL has emerged as a symbol of new Russian economic power.

Russia has emerged, not just as an economic force in Aluminium but is important to the world economy in terms of a whole host of commodities.

The Aluminium Wars

In the “aluminium wars” rivals fought for control of Russian smelters in the 1990’s.Today, these days are long gone and the wars are over – but the emergence of RUSAL, has seen how high the stakes were.

There were of course winners and losers in the aluminium wars and this is covered in new book “Mafia in Black”, by Andrei Katitin (recently he claimed he was shot in the shoulder by a gunman outside his apartment which he believes is linked to the book) “Mafia in Black” is a fascinating read, on a period of immense change in Russian society and the economy generally.

The Emergence of the Russian Oligarch On A Global Stage

The story of the “Aluminium wars” is of interest to many observers of Russian society, as it covers a period when the country was in a period of transition, into a free market economy from the old regulated Soviet economy.

A major question that many observers of Russia are interested in is – how did the mega rich Russians make their money?

This interest was heightened when one of Russia’s richest men, walked into west London and bought Chelsea FC. Roman Abramovich, was a Russian oligarch who was at the time generally unknown in the west at the time but is now a household name.

He bailed out Chelsea football club to the tune of $140 million and has gone on to spend in excess of $500 million on the club – a huge sum but small change to Russia’s second-richest man.

But how did he get it?

Through various businesses which grew during the turbulent period, that followed the collapse of the old Soviet Union. His move into the aluminium industry, was seen as the conclusion of the “Aluminium wars”.

So why did 100 people die and why is there so much controversy about the period?

The stakes were high and a look at the Russian aluminum industry today, shows how high they were and what was at stake finacially. Today, the Russian Aluminium industry is consolidated in one company – referred to as Russian Aluminium or RUSAL.

The Emergence of RUSAL

The company is a true heavyweight in the aluminium industry. In Siberia it operates 5 huge aluminium smelters and two massive refineries — but its influence now goes a lot further and it’s now a global player.

RUSAL recently overtake Alcoa and Alcan as the largest aluminium producer in the world after merging with its nearest rival Sual.

The facts behind RUSAL, clearly show its importance in the world metal and aluminimum industry. RUSAL is the world’s largest aluminium and alumina producer, with 12% of the world’s aluminium market, 15% of the global production, has operations in 19 countries and employs around 100,000 people.

Russian Inc Goes Global

Oleg Deripaska, is Russia’s undisputed aluminium king and Deripaska, is one of Russia’s richest and most influential businessmen and is one of the Russian oligarchs who reflects the new economic power of Russia.

He has excellent connections to the current regime; he is related by marriage to former President Boris Yeltsin and is close to Vladimir Putin.

“The aluminium wars” were played out in a period where Russia was struggling to come to terms with the transition from the old Soviet style economy, to a new free market. Many observers in the west simply saw the Russia economy in a period of decline and corruption, which it would never recover from – but today, the perception of Russia is very different.

Russia Takes Its Place On the World Stage

Russia has huge natural reserves of a huge host of commodities and commodity prices are rising fast.

Putin has capitalized on booming oil and commodities prices as a means to recover Russia’s lost status as a great power.

Russia is now being taken more seriously on both a political and economic level, than at anytime since the break up of the old Soviet regime.

It’s importance in feeding the world with commodities, to fuel global economic growth and the emergence of RUSAL from the turbulent period of the “aluminimum wars” is a reflection of this.

Today, Russia has re gained its national pride and is able to take its place as a major economic force. Companies such as RUSAL, are a reflection of the momentous changes that have taken place in the Russian economy in recent years.

From the turbulent period of the “aluminium wars” featured in “Mafia in Black”, to a major player in the world’s commodity markets, Russia is back as a major force in the world economy.

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