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SOCHI, RUSSIA - AUGUST 30: Russian President, Vladimir Putin (R) and Rex Tillerson (L), Chairman and CEO of Exxon Mobil during a signing ceremony for an arctic oil exploration deal between Exxon Mobil and Rosneft on August, 30, 2011 in Sochi, Russia. US oil company Exxon Mobil have agreed an Arctic oil exploration deal with Russian state-owned oil company Rosneft, during a signing ceremony on Tuesday, attended by president Vladimir Putin. (Photo by Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images)

Photos of Oil Executives Having a Great Time With Vladimir Putin

The Russian government has made untold riches exploiting oil fields with the help of Western fossil fuel giants.

Several global energy giants announced they’d be exiting their stake from the Russian oil and gas industry in the last 48 hours. In a historic move, BP, Equinor and Shell all proclaimed their departure from the nation over its invasion of Ukraine.

In a move that experts told Motherboard was unique for a profit-driven industry, the companies are anticipating taking short-term financial hits in service of a broader human rights goal. (Whether this will have a ripple effect on the global price of oil, as western nations have been aiming to avoid by neglecting to sanction the Russian energy industry, remains to be seen.)

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“This cannot have been an easy call for BP,” Jonathan Elkind, senior research scholar at Columbia University’s Center on Energy Policy, previously told Motherboard noting that the company has 30 years of business history entrenched in Russia. 

This legacy has positioned Russia where it is today. Western oil companies have spent decades becoming close to Vladimir Putin and playing by his rules in the country—enriching themselves and Putin’s government in the process. Exxon was so successful at this that its former CEO Rex Tillerson became Donald Trump’s Secretary of State in part because of his “foreign policy” experience dealing with Putin.

“Everyone who has been doing business in Russia or buying Russian gas and oil has contributed to Putin’s war chest,” Fiona Hill, former official at the US National Security Council and foremost expert on Russia told Politico on Monday. “Our investments are not just boosting business profits, or Russia’s sovereign wealth funds and its longer-term development. They now are literally the fuel for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”

There are dozens of photos of Western oil executives meeting with Putin over the years, many of them to announce major investment in the country. Here are just a few:

BP

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MOSCOW, RUSSIAN FEDERATION: Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and British Petroleum (BP) Chief executive John Browne welcome Mikhail Friedman (not pictured), chairman of committee of directors of the TNK-BP oil company to start their meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow, 22 April 2005. The Russo-British oil firm TNK-BP said 11 April that it now faces a bill for back taxes from the Russian government of almost a billion dollars, raising jitters among investors still reeling from the controversy over oil giant Yukos. Image: AFP PHOTO / YURI KADOBNOV

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Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (3rdR) and Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin (R) listen to BP chief executive Bob Dudley (L) during their meeting in Putin’s Novo-Ogaryovo residence, outside Moscow on January 14, 2011. The heads of energy giant BP and state-run Russian oil firm Rosneft announced a deal Friday to swap shares in a joint venture to exploit the vast untouched energy resources of the Arctic. AFP PHOTO/ RIA-NOVOSTI POOL/ ALEXEY DRUZHININ via Getty Images

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Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (R) speaks with BP chief executive Bob Dudley (L), during their meeting in Putin’s Novo-Ogaryovo residence, outside Moscow, on January 14, 2011. The heads of energy giant BP and state-run Russian oil firm Rosneft announced a deal to swap shares in a joint venture to exploit the vast untouched energy resources of the Arctic. AFP PHOTO/ RIA-NOVOSTI POOL/ ALEXEY DRUZHININ via Getty Images

Shell

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Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (R) speaks with Royal Dutch Shell Chief Executive Jeroen van der Veer (L) outside Moscow in Novo-Ogaevo on June 27, 2009. Putin invited Shell to participate in two new natural gas projects during a meeting with the Anglo-Dutch company's chief executive. AFP PHOTO / RIA NOVOSTI / POOL / ALEXEY NIKOLSKY via Getty Images

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Moscow, RUSSIAN FEDERATION: Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) welcomes Chief Executive of Royal Dutch Shell Company, Jeroen van der Veer during a meeting with heads of "Shell", "Mitsubishi" and "Mitsui" corporations in Moscow's Kremlin, 21 December 2006. Anglo-Dutch energy group Royal Dutch Shell said Thursday that Russian state gas group Gazprom will become a 50 percent shareholder in the Sakhalin-2 project at a cost of 7.45 billion dollars (5.66 billion euros). AFP PHOTO / POOL / ALEXANDER NEMENOV via Getty Images

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Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (R) meets with Royal Dutch Shell Chief Executive Jeroen van der Veer (C) and Shell's incoming Chief Executive Peter Voser (L) outside Moscow in Novo-Ogaevo on June 27, 2009. Putin invited Shell to participate in two new natural gas projects during a meeting with the Anglo-Dutch company's chief executive. AFP PHOTO / RIA NOVOSTI / POOL / ALEXEY NIKOLSKY via Getty Images

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ST PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - JULY 18, 2019: Russia's President Vladimir Putin (L) and Royal Dutch Shell CEO Ben van Beurden shake hands during a meeting at the Tauride Palace. Mikhail Metzel/TASS (Photo by Mikhail Metzel\TASS via Getty Images)

Exxon

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Rex Tillerson - CEO - 2006-2016 SOCHI, RUSSIA - AUGUST 30: Russian President, Vladimir Putin (R) and Rex Tillerson (L), Chairman and CEO of Exxon Mobil during a signing ceremony for an arctic oil exploration deal between Exxon Mobil and Rosneft on August, 30, 2011 in Sochi, Russia. US oil company Exxon Mobil have agreed an Arctic oil exploration deal with Russian state-owned oil company Rosneft, during a signing ceremony on Tuesday, attended by president Vladimir Putin. (Photo by Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images)

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Russia's President Vladimir Putin (R) and ExxonMobil Chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson (L) attend at the ceremony of the signing of an agreement between state-controlled Russian oil company Rosneft and ExxonMobil in the Black Sea port of Tuapse on June 15, 2012. AFP PHOTO/ RIA-NOVOSTI/POOL/MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV via Getty Images

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ST PETERSBURG, RUSSIA. Pictured in this file image dated June 21, 2013, are Russia's president Vladimir Putin and Exxon Mobil chairman Rex Tillerson (L-R) at an award ceremony for employees and chief executives of energy companies at the 17th St Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) at Lenexpo. Mikhail Klimentyev/Russian Presidential Press and Information Office/TASS (Photo by Mikhail Klimentyev\TASS via Getty Images)

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ST PETERSBURG, RUSSIA. Pictured in this file image dated June 21, 2013, are Russia's president Vladimir Putin and Exxon Mobil chairman Rex Tillerson (L-R) at an award ceremony for employees and chief executives of energy companies at the 17th St Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) at Lenexpo. Mikhail Klimentyev/Russian Presidential Press and Information Office/TASS (Photo by Mikhail Klimentyev\TASS via Getty Images)

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MOSCOW REGION, RUSSIA - DECEMBER 15, 2016: Pictured in this file image dated April 16, 2012 are Rosneft Oil Company President Eduard Khudainatov (2nd L), Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (C) and Exxon Mobil Corporation CEO Rex Tillerson (R) during a ceremony to sign a strategic cooperation agreement between Rosneft Oil Company and Exxon Mobil Corporation at Novo-Ogaryovo residence. Alexei Nikolsky/TASS (Photo by Alexei Nikolsky\TASS via Getty Images)