Many are labeling Russiaâ€™s pressure on Ukraine to pay market prices for natural gas as â€œCold Warâ€ tactics. Of course, the Ukrainian government is paying the full price for their anti-Russian rhetoric and pro-Western orientation. Russia is flexing the only muscles she has: natural resources. But, itâ€™s not so much a message to the Ukraine as to the West. And itâ€™s not so much â€œCold Warâ€ as Realist geo-politics.
Putin quickly realized that Russia only has one card to play in todayâ€™s world of growing demand for natural resources. Domestically, this realization became clear with the takeover of the Yukos oil company. Disguised as retribution for legal transgressions, Putin removed the threat of a western-oriented Yukos
by imprisoning its managers, and paved the way for a predictable government takeover of Russiaâ€™s oil industry. Today, it is not so clear what the rules of oil investment are (i.e. no foreigner shall hold majority stock in a Russian oil company), but it is very clear who makes the rules.