Russian President Vladimir Putin has given a Russian passport to the famous French movie star in what some see as part of an escalating war of words between Russia and the West.
Some see the naval exercises scheduled later this month as cover for a massive evacuation of Russian citizens from war-torn Syria.
About 1,000 Russian children were adopted by US families in 2011, and around 50 such adoptions are pending.
The plan from UN special envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, is unlikely to gain traction without more concessions to the Syrian opposition.
The Duma's bill to ban US adoptions of Russian children, which passed another legislative hurdle today, appeals to Russian pride and concerns about the US.
The Russian deputy foreign minister said yesterday that the Syrian regime might fall – a bold declaration because Russia has been a key ally of President Bashar al-Assad.
The tiny states of Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia, having shed their Russian-dominated past and joined the EU and NATO, are looking to help their post-Soviet neighbors to do the same.
While the Baltics make economic and democratic strides, they also face growing pressure to better integrate their poor, disenfranchised Russian-speaking minorities.
Once the Prussian city of Königsberg but now separated from the rest of Russia by Lithuania and Poland, Kaliningrad occupies a peculiar space in Europe both geographically and psychologically.
ProPublica reports that Syria asked Iraq to allow helicopter shipment overflights from Russia, just days after other documents revealed Russia sent Syrian currency to Damascus.