Van Eck Global's Market Vectors Russia ETF (NYSE:RSX) is the first Russian exchange-traded fund to be offered in the U.S.

The ability to easily invest in this market is a good thing for investors, and with a 0.69% expense ratio, this fund is one of the least expensive options. However, it's not clear if this is the right time to take advantage of that ability.

Russia's economic growth has been close to 8% so far this year, driven to a large extent by strong demand for energy. At the same time the Russian stock market has turned in a lackluster performance for the first half of 2007, acting like a bear ready to hibernate.

RSX tracks the DAXglobal Russia+ Index, which represents 30 publicly traded Russian companies. The index is largely composed of large-cap companies with only 11% in mid caps. Oil and gas make up 40% of the index constituents, with telecom in second place at a much smaller 17%.

Well-positioned economy
Russia has been an energy- and commodity-based economy and is at the point where the market has an opportunity to broaden outside of the resource sector. Because the market is very early in its move to a new level of development, sectors such as banking, telecom, real estate, and infrastructure might be good plays.

The Russian bear has gorged on oil revenues, and now the government has the ability to spend oil revenue tax receipts to improve infrastructure.

Pushy bear
Russian President Vladimir Putin has recently been ... aggressive, shall we say? ... toward the E.U. and the U.S., which could delay Russia's entrance into the World Trade Organization, a negative for the stock market. Government interference in business seems to be part and parcel of the economic landscape: Russia recently cut some highway and rail access with Estonia and has also been accused of orchestrating cyber-attacks against official Estonian government websites.

Russia is an emerging economy which, a decade ago, was nearly bankrupt. A lot has changed since then, but whether the opportunities in the Russian market are outweighed by the risks is a tough decision at this point. If oil prices stay at their lofty levels, this market is a safer bet, but if oil drops significantly, I wouldn't want to be anywhere near this bear.

Global Gains lead analyst Bill Mann recently traveled to China, India, and Taiwan in search of new investment opportunities in some of the world's fastest-growing economies. To find out what he found, and to learn about the world's greatest stocks, give Global Gains a free 30-day test spin. There is no obligation to subscribe.

Fool contributor Zoe Van Schyndel lives in Miami and enjoys the sunshine and variety of the Magic City. She does not own any of the funds mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.