Have you noticed too the slowly but steadily escalating posturing between Russia and the US... ?
I guess it all started with their stand-off on the war in Iraq. They certainly did not agree on Iran, with the US trying to force Iran out of their nuclear ambitions while Moscow supplied fuel for the Russian-built Bushehr nuclear plant.
Then there was an indirect standoff during the Orange revolution in the Ukraine, taking one more nation away from Putin's area of influence. Add their differences about Kosovo's independence, the recent integration of ex-USSR satellite states into the EU (with the alleged Russian-stoked unrest in Estonia), etcetera etcetera, and you have a recipe for problems.
Even more worrying is the recent escalation of direct posturing. NATO wants to install new radar installations in countries which used to be direct USSR allies. Russia says: "Ahaaa" and tests a new long range missile and re-activates its long range spy plane flights, which alerted the UK to scramble RAF jets to intercept it.
To counter NATO, Russia is now boosting the activities of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization or SCO (call it "their" equivalent of NATO) with its first massive joint military exercise involving 6,500 troops, including elite troops from China..
And to top it off, the Russian propaganda machine thought it would be useful to continue the posturing by showing Putin in military fatigues doing all kinds of macho stuff during his holiday (see picture courtesy GQ-magazine ).
Why, would one ask? Why? Well, one answer is too many nations are fed up with the US having free hand to do whatever it wants in the world (after the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq) and Russia gladly volunteered. Maybe Putin needs to show a harder image for the upcoming legislative elections. And is there not one or the other kind of election coming up in the US neither?
But I think it runs deeper. I think the US and Russian economy are in that much trouble, they need a new cold war so that defence spending would lead to a new boost for their economy. Call me a pessimist. Call me a sarcast. But that is what I really think.