Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced that if the Ukraine wants gas supplies it will have to pay up front. This move is supposedly going to try to force the Ukraine into bankruptcy. Putin has some 40-50,000 troops on the Ukrainian border. The word is that all the demonstrations in Eastern Ukraine have been manipulated by pro-Russian supporters. Putin is trying to either force a political or economic showdown within the Ukraine.
What's interesting is that multilateral talks between the United States, European Union, Russia, and the Ukraine start next week and it looks like Putin wants to go into the talks with the upper hand. This will be the first time that all four factions will be together since the crisis started. Russia is wanting the Ukraine to be under it's sphere of influence. It does not want the Ukraine to be connected with the West. Russia figures if they can't take the Ukraine by force then they can control it by economic pressure.
NATO has stated that if Russia wants to try and take the Ukraine by force then it is more than capable in combating the Russians on the field. Russia does not want to take this sort of action. The Crimea was taken without anyone really firing a shot, but this time Russia will not take the Ukraine so easily.
Russia knows that the Ukraine has water rights over the Crimea and that is a bargaining tool. The Ukraine needs gas supplies and has in the past gotten its supply from Russia. Just as the European Union gets a quarter of its gas supplies from Russia. Russia is feeling that it has the west cornered.
Now Russia may be feeling squeezed by the sanctions against it and this is why they are going on the offensive. Whatever the reason, Russia is not in a position to control this situation against the west. The west has too many options that it can take against Russia and could easily starve them out. You can't eat gas.Russia needs to realize that it can't dictate to the world and get away with it.