The Russian economy has been booming over the past decade and flexed its muscles in the international political and economic arena. But how strong is the Russian economy really? Is it mainly based on the revenues of gas and oil exports? Or is it the result of major changes in the structure and productivity in the economy since the breakdown of the communist system? To what extent will these changes be mainly transitory, reflecting the shift from a planned economy towards a free market environment, or permanent? In this article we compare the pattern of economic growth in Russia in the past decades with that of other economic regions in the world economy and argue that some features of sustainable growth have appeared in the last decade. The current crisis will be a major test of the resilience of the Russian economy.