Putin now suddenly seems completely out of control. With Litvinenko dead, and pointing a finger directly at Putin from the grave, we have a rash of investigations beginning in Scotland Yard. But that apparently isn’t enough for a good day’s work: yesterday Putin replaced the head of Gazprom, Russia’s largest company (and one partly made of the prosecution and persecution of past oligarchs AND foreign business partners left in the lurch), with another KGB/FSB ally, without notice or explanation.

Within the same 24-hour period, he announced in Finland that he would block EU meat imports as of January, apparently unless they renig on allowing past soviet states into the WTO. And then he had a spokesperson announce a $700MM deal with Iran from last year that resulted in shipments of 20 modern ground-to-air anti-aircraft batteries, capable of tracking two targets at once and shooting up to 20,000 feet.

If the UK follows up on the Litvinenko affair, they may quickly find themselves in the middle of his own last investigation, into the Politovskaya assassination; both of these people had already claimed that the Moscow bombings attributed by Putin to Chechen rebels – as a reason for invading – were in fact the work of Putin.

If this is shown to be true, I think his run is over, despite the weird fondness those authority-loving Russians have for him.

Putin is acting as though he is either really out of control (hard to believe), or beyond anyone’s ability to restrain him, which could easily be true. Even so, his aggression and recklessness are new in quantity, if not quality.

Scott Foster made a number of excellent points with regard to him doing what he ought to do to protect Russia’s interests, and I don’t completely disagree. My point is one of observation: this guy has suddenly gone from being extremely conservative, careful, and accommodating of world powers, to being haphazard, overzealous, reckless. This is a major change, and can’t be good for Russia or the world in the long run.

An update from my last post on our now-dead ex-spy: he was not poisoned by Thallium, as first reported in the British press, but by radioactive Polonium. And traces of radioactivity have been found at the Millennium Hotel in London, which he visited prior to his sushi lunch with his Italian friend. Who did he have tea with at the Hotel? A past KGB agent, another spy, and an unnamed third person.

Wonder which one was carrying the Polonium?