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This study develops and applies a comprehensive framework for estimating all of the economic costs incurred by the Soviet Union in acquiring, maintaining, and expanding its empire. The bulk of the study is devoted to estimating the total and component costs of the Soviet empire (CSE) for the period from 1971 through 1980. The principal components include implicit trade subsidies; export credits; military aid deliveries; economic aid deliveries; incremental costs of Soviet military operations in Afghanistan; and costs of Soviet covert and related activities that can be reasonably imputed to the empire, rather than to maintenance of the Soviet system at home. These costs are expressed in current and constant dollars and rubles, and scaled in relation to Soviet GNP and military spending. After considering total costs and their changes over the 1970s, the cost of each component is examined separately. Finally, the question of whether CSE will be higher or lower in the 1980s than in the 1970s is considered, as well as several policy issues relating to the burden imposed by CSE on the Soviet economy, the relative size of comparable U.S. costs, and the desirability and feasibility of U.S. policies for raising CSE.

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