Russia has entered the top five of the world’s biggest economies, with its $3.4 trillion GDP leaving fellow European nations behind, according to the World Bank.
The US, China, India and Japan occupy the first four positions, while Germany drops one place into sixth. Russia has gained ground thanks to its favourable oil prices.
The country was previously the sixth largest economy by purchasing power parity (PPP) – the theory used to determine the relative value of currencies – but has experienced constant growth since the beginning of the 21st century. This is mainly down to its plentiful natural resources, especially coal, oil and natural gas reserves in remote areas, which account for a large share of its exports.
Despite being defined by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as a “developing economy”, Russia has overcome most other European nations in terms of economic growth.
The country’s abundance of fossil fuels and minerals have played a crucial role in the global energy market, making it become the world’s largest exporters of natural gas. Russia is also the largest oil producer among non-OPEC countries, and is globally second after Saudi Arabia.
The country will enter the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 2015 and according to the IMF, its economy is set to grow steadily, more than the US and Germany.
However, because of its strong reliance on fossil fuels, it has often been criticised by environmental campaign groups. In 2011, Russia was the fourth largest carbon dioxide emitter and its interests in drilling for oil in its Arctic regions make it an easy target for protesters.
In July, Greenpeace labelled the partnership between Shell and a number of Russian energy companies, set up to exploit the Arctic for its oil and gas, as “dangerous” because of the poor safety records of Russian firms.