The nation has the biggest reserves of natural gas worldwide and the eighth largest oil reserves. Those reserves, however, are matched by an equal degree of skepticism about the central government from Big Oil companies and investors around the world.
Many of Russia's big, state-controlled energy companies are run by former members of the secret police. Their willingness to use energy as a weapon was made clear this past winter and the winter before, when natural gas supplies were cut off after disputes with countries whose pipelines carry gas to Europe.
Intimidation is rampant, as evidenced by the jailing of a former Yukos boss who was an outspoken critic of President Vladimir Putin.
And bullying or the threat of the same was reportedly one reason why Royal Dutch Shell recently sold its controlling interest in a massive energy project in Russia's Far East to the gas monopoly Gazprom.