One look at the natural gas power grid, and it's easy to understand why Vladimir Putin has a power problem on his hands, one that even the Obama Administration could find easy to understand. Ukraine has long been under the thumb of "mother Russia" politically. Among other reasons, over 30% of western Europe's demand for natural gas flows from Russia through Ukraine.
That pesky geographic fact presents a rather strong leverage point for Ukrainians to play, should they ever want to push back on Putin's demands. Low and behold, in January, 2014, that push-back ensued, with riots taking on police in Ukraine's Hrushevskoho Street Riots, in Kiev.