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Fact-Check: Is Russia's Economy 'Nuclear Weapons and Oil Wells and Nothing Else,' as Biden Claimed?

December 28, 2021
RM Staff
Read the full fact-check in our Contestable Claims section.

In remarks made at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in July 2021, U.S. President Joe Biden said that Russian President Vladimir Putin is " sitting on top of an economy that has nuclear weapons and oil wells and nothing else." In making his statement, Biden built on a claim by former U.S. President Barack Obama, who said in 2016 that Russia “doesn’t produce anything that anybody wants to buy except oil and gas and arms.” Biden’s claim is more hyperbolic than his ex-boss’s since it ignores two major Russian exports, conventional arms and natural gas (only 12.8% of which came from oil wells in 2019, according to Energy Ministry figures). And while Russia does have the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons in the world, how much they contribute to the country’s GDP is difficult to calculate, given the increasing secrecy shrouding the Russian nuclear arsenal.

Overall, our fact-check concluded that the claim was:

Biden fact check

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