Russia Continues to Wield Energy as Tool of State Power

Russia Continues to Wield Energy as Tool of State Power

President Bush's meeting with Vladimir Putin last week found U.S.-Russian relations in a far different state than six years ago, when President Putin was the first leader to call the Oval Office and pledge his support following September 11. While there is yet no real basis for proclaiming a new Cold War, a long list of thorny issues includes sanctions against Iran, location of the proposed U.S. missile defense system, and the unresolved question of Kosovar independence.

Perhaps the most important recent change U.S.-Russian relations, however, is Russia's much greater reluctance to support the Bush administration's Middle East and Europe policies. Russia's new assertiveness is largely the result of the financial stability brought about by its booming energy sector. With 60 percent of Russia's federal budget coming from oil and gas revenues, energy policy has for years been at the center of Putin's plan to reclaim Russia's global power status.

In recent months, the Putin administration has further tightened state control of Russia's oil and gas industry and has demonstrated increasing willingness to use the country's energy resources as an instrument of power in foreign policy.

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