No doubt things have changed a little in the last 15 years. We have a resident kgb chappie, who chimes in with regularity and generally provokes debate of a most interesting kind. I'm no stranger to Russia and find the western view of Russia to be a bit dated. Russia and oil - Yes Gazprom and the other companies have made oil a viable challenge to middle eastern oil supplies. As we in UK dont have that much of our own its a matter of who is holding your testicles. Certainly Russia see this as a strategic advantage. I doubt that if a humungous amount of sweet, low sulphur oil was found in Rutland, enough to supply Europe, we would not be any different. Arms dealing. Russia have been at it equally as we have. There are infrastructure issues which the Russians are hampered by, such as GPS satellites, but its the most effective weapons which get the buyers. I suspect that any arab nation is going to look at the performance of Russian and Chinese anti-aircraft and think that there are better alternatives, ie some that work. Russians see the world map differently to us in the west. Its an important perspective which has been around for a long time. We in UK see an island and USA see a huge continent but Russia's borders are far more widespread and encompass far more nations than USA and some planetary aspects too - the arctic is bordered by Russia for about 1/3 of its diameter. Spin the globe on google earth and take a look. Its not expansionist for Russia to think of part of the Black Sea to be Russian water (even taking into account the Ukraine ports) and they are very well aware that Istanbul is a choke point, which is has been since Jesus first picked up a chisel. Muscovites are no more obnoxious than the inhabitants of any major capital. I dont want to offend Londoners, Parisiens or Berliners, but there is a certain arrogance for those who live in capital cities that I dont feel outside of any of those capitals. Moscow taxi drivers. A good reason to bring back gulags. I dread not the Russian immigration but the swathes of taxi drivers in the terminal which I have to become increasingly rude to ( and violent if they try to take my bag off me). B'stards every one of them.