Further, with the annexation of Crimea, Russia has entrenched itself even more deeply in Europe's energy matrix. As you can see in the before and after maps below, Crimea gives Russia new access rights to offshore resources that are potentially worth trillions, and simultaneously wipes out any Ukrainian hopes for energy security.
The significance of this shift is huge. For decades, industry insiders have compared the Black Sea to the North Sea and called it one of the last deepwater frontiers in the world. To put this in perspective, the North Sea fields have seen more than 7,000 wells drilled, with a yield of over 48 billion barrels of oil and 127 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of gas to date.
The Black Sea could be just as big as the North Sea. If the oil and gas are indeed there, it will now be Russians, rather than Ukrainians, who reap the rewards.
This "strategic takeover" could not have come at a better time from Russia's point of view, because many of its oil and gas fields are mature and declining in production.
Russia had barely had time to plant its flag on Crimean soil when Gazprom announced its proposal to develop Crimea's oil and gas. Many people believe this is the main reason the annexation happened. But the region's oil and gas resources are in fact just a small piece of the puzzle. Dmitry Peskov, Putin's press secretary, said it best when he stated that "compared to all the potential Russia has got, there was no interest there."