Vladimur Putin, whose ego is larger than the Russian nation he leads, has gotten caught with his fingers in the cookie jar. First he took back from the Ukraine nation the province of Crimea, ceded to the Ukraine in 1954 by then Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. Emboldened by this successful grab, he fomented a revolt by the Russian speaking minority in the Eastern part of Ukraine. He deployed significant Russian forces along the eastern border of Ukraine, and more or less openly supplied the rebels with heavy arms. But he has been faced with a series of embarrassing events. First, the Ukrainian forces turned the tide of battle against the rebels. Then the rebels mistakenly shot down a civilian airliner, killing all aboard. More recently, six Russian paratroopers were taken prisoner in a minor incursion in the southeastern sector of Ukraine. Some of their comrades were killed as well. There are widely publicized appeals from the parents of these six paratroopers. One thing that has not changed from the Soviet era is the Russian rumour mill.