Zero Sum

The Arc of International Business in Russia

Part of the New Perspectives on Eastern Europe and Eurasia series
November 2024 9781911723561 352pp
Forthcoming Pre-order
Available as an eBook
EU Customers


When the hammer and sickle flag came down at the Kremlin at the end of 1991, a feverish new market opened for business: Russia. In 2022, as soon as Putin’s troops invaded Ukraine, that market started to collapse, as Western firms fled the skyscrapers of Moscow and other centres of business.

No other country of this scale has transformed itself so dramatically, so quickly—not just once, but twice. Over three turbulent decades, a wild, proto-capitalist free-for-all came seductively close to becoming a predictable place to do business. And then it all unravelled. Russia’s post-Soviet years have seen phenomenal successes, crushing failures, and the creation and destruction of enormous fortunes. How did it all happen?

Charles Hecker tells the gripping, three-act story of international business in Russia since the fall of the USSR. What have global companies learnt—or failed to learn—about Russia over the course of this adventure? And beyond Russia, what do we now understand about the way countries and companies interact in the face of relentless change? Zero Sum brings to life the complexity, the nuance and the vivid colour of one of the greatest experiments in the history of global commerce.


Charles Hecker has spent forty years travelling and working in the Soviet Union and Russia. He has worked as a journalist and a geopolitical risk consultant, and has lived in Miami, Moscow and London. A fluent Russian speaker, he holds degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard University.

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