The flap over the radiation poisoning of the former Russian spy Litvinenko keeps growing, now with several airplanes showing possible signs of contamination, with shades of James Bondian skullduggery. What is most disturbing about this is that it seems to confirm the rumors that the current Russian government is taking extreme measures to silence any voice of dissent, regardless of how many denials Putin issues. Now back in the days of the Cold War this might have been expected behavior for the USSR government, but seeing it today should splash some very cold water on the idea that Russia is a good place to try and expand your business, will make a good trading partner, is not a military threat, or can handle its internal security and terrorist threats in a reasonable and effective way.
Nor can our government afford to just ignore all of this. The amount of various radioactive materials that is controlled by the Russian government is very large, and its clear from the events of the last several years that at least some of this material is subject to pilferage and black market sales. This increases the security risk to the rest of the world by a large amount. If the Russian government cannot abide a free society and dissemination of information about its failures, and is willing to use extreme measures to silence anyone who dares to point out problems, it makes it just that much more difficult for the rest of the world to find out exactly what is going on and to take appropriate control measures.
Seems to me that our own intelligence organizations need to have a greater presence in Russia and better analysis of what is happening over there, as opposed to their current seeming obsession with suspected domestic and middle-east terrorists. And the diplomatic hammer needs to be employed to get the Russian government to do something more positive than just eliminate any sign of opposition to its rule.