After more than ten years of disengagement, Russia set out to recapture some of its influence in the Caspian and Central Eurasian region around the turn of the century.1 Russia increasingly flexes its muscles in this area by means of the Russian ruble and corporations, rather than by using arms or taking advantage of its military bases in the region, which Moscow has been keen to maintain. Since energy remains a crucial component of Russia’s economic ties to its southern neighbors, companies from the energy sector have emerged as powerful players in Russian foreign relations.