Two Americans were recently treated for poisoning in Moscow by a toxic metal: thallium. At first I just thought that it was another Alexander Litvinenko mob hit issue, a return to the organized crime roots for Putin and Russians in general. Then something clicked. This was a test. And I blame the media.
Now, I don't know if Putin himself is a fan of CBS's Tuesday night lineup, but a couple weeks ago, the aired episode of NCIS dealt with nuclear inspectors. One of the inspectors was poisoned. With thallium.
Here's how I see it unfolding: Putin is sitting around on a Tuesday night, watching the satellite, NCIS to be exact, and an aide comes in.
AIDE: Vlad, we need some signatures on these assassination orders.
VLAD: Shhh. Leave them. I'll get to them later.
AIDE: NCIS. Sweet. Why's that guy sick?
VLAD: He was poisoned by thallium.
AIDE: Hmm. Hair falling out and everything. That shit actually work?
VLAD: I don't know. But I'm going to need you to find out.
AIDE: I just ran into some emigrated Russians downstairs. They came back, on vacation, heh. They're staying down the street.
VLAD: I guess you have your action item.
VLAD: Muwahaha! Now go. You're lucky I'm DVRing this. Make me a mojito.
Sorry. That was ridiculous. They'd be speaking Russian, of course.
And even after this story broke, a Russian reporter was whacked for investigating Russian arms sales to Iran and Syria. Official reports say he jumped out of a window.
Jumped out of a window? That's not even Matlock mysterious. No one has purposefully jumped out of a window to end their life since the 80's, and even that was suspect. There are much more efficient ways to end your life, like buying a rifle at Wal-Mart and blowing your head off by pulling the trigger with your toe. Jaw-droppingly simple.
So Putin's plans progress. Assassinations digress to Cold War mob absurdity. But antics aside, as we discussed in Where in the World is Vladimir Putin? he's a man with a plan. China recently visited for a strategic meeting. China's Military Might is strong and growing. And they have something else in common with Russia: nukes.
Ancient Chinese Secret is starting to look a little more dangerous. And Vladimir Putin and Russia are looking a couple shades redder.