Looks like Vladimir Putin is setting up the government to continue on its current strategy to regain regional supremacy. He’s dissolved the Russian Government and it looks like he’ll be reforming it with either his Big Crony Sergei Ivanov or Gazprom Executive Dmitry Medvedev. Ivanov is ex-KGB, so I’d look to him to be the next President, and then put Medvedev in as PM. That way you have Putin’s influence reigning in both locations. (UPDATE: It’s neither– it’s Viktor Zubkov, someone who’s been working with Putin since 1992. It’s no surprise, then. I’m sure Zubkov is well acquainted with the energy strategy being employed by Putin.)
Putin’s plan is to establish an energy monopoly and use that power to squeeze its weaker neighbors. The recent military flexing is more of a show for China than it is for the US, and indicator not to underestimate the Russian military and beware any military action to try and seize (perceived) Russian energy assets.
Putin’s not stupid. He knows that he can “rule” the East by controlling its energy input. He needs to find reserves of hydrocarbons and control them, or establish alliances with energy-rich countries (like Iran) to secure a steady flow of oil. If it can deny direct sales to China, Russia can then influence Chinese policy through energy trading. It’s already got a stranglehold on the former Russian republics, and it’s working on former Eastern-bloc countries as well.