In 2017, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared that whichever country becomes the leader in artificial intelligence (AI) “will become the ruler of the world.” Yet Russia lags competitors like China and the United States substantially in AI capabilities. What is Russia’s strategy for boosting development of AI technologies, and what role do groups within the Russian elite play in shaping this strategy? Russia’s AI development strategy is unique in that it is led not by the government, nor by the private sector, but by state-owned firms. The government’s distrust of Russia’s largest tech firm, Yandex, has sidelined the company from national AI planning. Meanwhile, Russia’s defense conglomerate Rostec publicly appears to focus less on artificial intelligence than on other high-tech priorities. As a result, Russia’s AI development has been left to a state-owned bank, Sberbank, which has taken the lead in devising plans for government-backed investment in AI.