ANTON ZUBCHEVSKYI/Shutterstock An onslaught of Western sanctions has raised questions about Russia’s future as an energy superpower.Moscow has so far defied expectations by keeping crude oil exports stable through increased Asian sales, but that could be tougher this year as sanctions pressures mount. Gazprom faces greater problems replacing all its lost European gas market, with alternative Eastern markets taking years to develop and the scale of demand uncertain. Save for later Print Download Share LinkedIn Twitter In slapping sweeping sanctions on Russia last year, the West had more than Ukraine in its sights. The Ukraine invasion was a sharp reminder of the vulnerability of oil and gas markets — and the global economy — to Russian supplies. One US official referred to “a collective interest to degrade Russia's capacity as a leading energy supplier in the long term," and a former official spoke bluntly of a “destroying the country’s central role in the global energy economy.” But Russia is a much bigger player than Iran and Venezuela — two other targets of sanctions — and the West had to tread carefully to avoid wreaking even greater economic havoc through its actions.