After the dissolution of the USSR, the Russian Federation considered itself as a natural heir to the empire. However, the new state lacked the military power that the Soviet Union once enjoyed. Thus, it tried to use the energy card as a foreign policy instrument. Conflicts in the South Caucasus and Central Asia reflected Russia's concern in maintaining its influence over energy resources.
The effectiveness of playing the energy card depended to a large extent on the power of the administration. During Boris Yeltsin's presidency, energy companies owned by the oligarchs could not fulfill their duties as foreign policy actors. In many cases, they acted in conformity with the Western world.
On the other hand, Vladimir Putin transformed these companies into an apparatus of the state and re-asserted Russia's dominant position in Central Asia. And through the use of bilateral agreements, Russia also prevented Western powers from establishing a coherent energy policy.
Gökhan Tekir is a political science student at Bilkent University, Ankara.