In recent months, Russian President Vladimir Putin has displayed an increasingly chilly attitude toward what he sees as the West's adherence to an outdated 'world order.' In July, Putin suspended Russia's participation in the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty (providing limits on what arms the US, Canada, and Russia may station on the European subcontinent), a move widely seen as a reaction to a plan by the US and Europe to install new anti-missile interceptor sites in Poland and the Czech Republic--both former members of the Warsaw Pact. This was, perhaps, a scaled-back response, given Putin's threat in June to re-target nuclear missiles toward Europe, though Putin has since unveiled an anti-missile defense plan of his own, and reinstituted Cold War era long-range bomber patrols.
Putin has also reinforced Russian ties with rising non-Western powers. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was the guest speaker at the meeting of the Shanghai Co-operative Organization (SCO) last week; its member nations--China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan span an increasing valuable reserve of oil and mineral resources, and the organization is perceived to be gaining political clout. Russia's gas and oil reserves have been key to its recent ascendancy--Russia's GDP has increased three-fold since 2002, with 70% of its income stemming from sales of gas and oil.
Perhaps in an effort to consolidate its position as a strategic supplier of the world's natural resources, Russia planted a titanium replica of its national flag in the seabed of the North Pole earlier this month, claiming ownership to up to half of the North Pole seabed area. The issue of who can actually claim 'legal' title to the North Pole seabed is governed by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, under which Russia would have to prove that the portion of the arctic seabed it claims--the Lomonosov Ridge--is actually an extension of Russia's landmass. Not coincidentally, scientists have begun speculating that there may be significant oil and mineral deposits underneath the North Pole, making the right to access to its seabed (and thus, those resources) potentially very lucrative. The move by Russia, however, drew criticism from other nations with potential stakes in the North Pole, and prompted countering moves by Canada, the US, and Denmark.
What's next for Russia remains to be seen. While Putin's term as President will end in 2008, his successor will likely also likely come out of the highly secretive and oligarchic FSB.