When international diplomacy starts to sound like the set up for a 90s Sean Connery movie, you know there's trouble. The New York Times is in a tizz over Putin's decision to end a twenty year long relationship with the United States that saw American experts assist in cleaning up Russia's nuclear and chemical weapons sites left over from the cold war. Now, says an editorial, "the world must watch as Russia’s unsecured weapons and materials remain a temptation for terrorists of all varieties to buy or steal for use in future attacks".
Thanks to the clean-up programme's efforts over the last two decades, the world is a measurably safer place. It "helped deactivate more then 7,600 nuclear warheads, destroy more than 2,000 nuclear capable missiles, convert more than 400 metric tons of highly enriched uranium bomb fuel into low-enriched reactor fuel and destroyed large stockpiles of chemical weapons."
The official explanation for ending the programme is national pride - Russia wants to take care of itself, without the assistance of Uncle Sam. It might also owe something to paranoia and xenophobia in the Kremlin.
Whatever the reason, Putin has landed himself with a problem, and now must ensure the clean-up progresses in a transparent fashion. If it doesn't, we're all at risk.