OH to have been a fly on the wall at that Damascus meeting the other day.
I'm talking about the one between Syria's President Bashar al Assad and his Russian visitors – some might say allies – Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Mikhail Fradkov, Moscow's director of foreign intelligence.
While the innocent civilians trapped by indiscriminate bombardment in the Syrian city of Homs will no doubt only have survival on their minds right now, it would surely add to their woes to know how much their fate seems increasingly beholden to regional and international power politicking.
Anyone in any doubt need only cast their mind back to last weekend when Russia and China used their veto at the UN Security Council, which backed an Arab League peace plan for Syria. So, now, while Homs burns, the air is full not only of smoke but the chill wind of an east-west Cold War re-run.
By deploying that veto, Russia and China laid down a marker, making it clear they, too, have interests in the Middle East and are prepared to go quite some way to protect them.
Responding with her own calls for the creation of a Friends of Syria group, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also spelled out Washington's determination to stand its ground.
While it's probably fair to say Syria's civil war has now begun, for some time now it has been far more than a purely Syrian affair.
To fully grasp Moscow's manoeuvrings on Syria and the current roots of its fallout with the West and some Arab states, one has to look at a combination of the regional struggle for power in the Middle East and Russia's own internal politics.
At the core of this revived Cold War struggle lies a desire by the US and its allies to see a shift in the ruling regimes in both Iran and Syria. Such changes would result in fundamental changes in the political configuration and alliances across the region.
For almost 30 years now, Syria, Iran and Hizbollah – the powerful political and military organisation of Shia Muslims allied to Syria – have been partners and thorns in the side of US-Israeli dominance in the Middle East.
Throughout that time, too, Moscow has maintained close links with the Assad family and Syrian regime. While Syria may not be an ally of Russia in the strictest sense of the word, Damascus has been a huge importer of Russian weapons, the trade between the two nations during the past decade amounting to around $1.5 billion.
Only last month, as the Syrian uprising gained momentum, a Russian cargo ship laden with ammunition arrived in the Russian naval resupply facility in the Syrian port of Tartus, and the two nations are said to have signed a £420m deal for military aircraft.
Hardly surprising, then, that Moscow is keen to keep business brisk while maintaining strong links with its long-time "friend" in the strategic heart of the Middle East.
So, be warned of Moscow's ire should any Arab nation have the temerity to apply political pressure to Russia's Syrian proxy. If Arab press reports of recent days are anything to go by, the tiny Gulf state of Qatar, which has proposed international military intervention in Syria to stop the killing, was the latest victim of a Russian diplomatic lashing.
Indeed, Russia's UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin has vigorously had to deny reports he threatened Qatar could be "wiped off the map" during the contentious negotiations over last week's UN Syrian peace resolution.
Moscow's alleged diplomatic pummelling of Qatar on Syria's behalf is in part a response to President Assad's fear the Gulf State might be willing to send its aircraft and special forces as part of any international intervention in Syria, as the Qataris did in Libya.
Russia's latest assertiveness on the international stage over Syria has, of course, also got lots to do with its own internal political climate.
Vladimir Putin is seeking election as president in a country where opposition to that very prospect has given rise to talk of a Russian Winter of political activism taking its lead from the Arab Spring.
Earlier this week, Mr Putin warned the world faced a growing "cult of violence" stoked by western interference and raised the spectre of the Arab Spring reaching Russia.
No doubt, in the weeks ahead, this diplomatic wrangling between Russia and the West will throw up yet more eerie memories of their previous Cold War rivalry.
The real question in the meantime though, is what all this means for those ordinary Syrians trapped in hell-holes like Homs, and their struggle to rid themselves of the Assad dictatorship?
Whatever was said at that Damascus meeting the other day, I can't for a moment imagine it will contribute much to alleviating their suffering.
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