Russian oil and natural gas industries are increasingly important players in the global energy market, particularly in Europe and Eurasia. Another trend has been the increasing concentration of these industries in the hands of the Russian government. This latter phenomenon has been accompanied by an increasingly authoritarian
political system, in which former intelligence officers play key roles. Russian firms have tried to purchase a controlling stake in pipelines, ports, storage facilities, and other key energy assets of the countries of central and eastern Europe. They need these assets to transport energy supplies to lucrative western European markets, as well as to secure greater control over the domestic markets of
the countries of the region. In several cases where assets were sold to non-Russian firms, Russian firms cut off energy supplies to the facilities. Russia has also tried to build new pipelines to circumvent infrastructure that it does not control. Another objective Russia has pursued has been to eliminate the energy subsidies former Soviet republics have received since the fall of the Soviet Union, including by raising the price these countries pay for natural gas to world market prices.