They used to say that all roads lead to Rome. But, today, it seems that all roads lead to Russia. Or to its president: Vladimir Putin.
Moscow is a key participant in the Syrian war and in the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
Russian hackers have been accused of breaking into US servers; the Russian state has been accused of trying to influence the outcome of the US presidential election and of attempting to divide and weaken the European Union.
And yet when Vladimir Putin came to power 16 years ago, he appeared ready for a close friendship with the West. The US President Bill Clinton described him as “smart” and a man with “enormous potential”.
But compliments have given way to confrontation, with a list of differences as long as the Russian winter: Syria, Ukraine, Nato enlargement, missile defence. Western governments are disillusioned with an increasingly authoritarian Kremlin leader. And he no longer trusts them.
By: Steve Rosenberg