The Labour party in the UK has accused the British Government of rushing to blame Vladimir Putin for the Salisbury nerve agent attack, after scientists at Porton Down said they had not verified that the substance came from Russia.
President Donald Trump invited Vladimir Putin to the White House when they spoke by telephone last month, according to an aide to the Russian president, but the two countries have not started any preparations for such a visit.
Even if you leave the beguiling question of how one person can hold such sway in a nation of almost 1.4bn people, the weekend decision by China’s ruling Communist Party to set the stage for President Xi Jinping to stay in office indefinitely is another example of how addictive absolute power can be.
Russian president Vladimir Putin attended commemorations on Friday marking the 75th anniversary of the Nazi surrender that ended the battle of Stalingrad, lauding the Red Army's victory as a shining example of Russia's perseverance amid adversity.
At a moment when the liberal values that have done so much to advance Western societies over the last 75 years are threatened on so many fronts the difficulties facing chancellor Angela Merkel have implications far beyond German or European borders.