They've exported a crime wave which makes the mafia look like amateurs. Their business millionaires snap up the best of London's property, park their yachts in the River Thames and buy up our famous soccer clubs. They are brash, flash and dangerous.
Maybe it has something to do with geography? You see, in Russia, everywhere there's a border. At one end they're up against Norway, then Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland - now part of the European Union - Belarus, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, China, North Korea and, as we are all brutally aware, Georgia. It must have been so much easier in the old Soviet Union where nobody dared step out of line. Now they've got a whole host of little nations and something called democracy to deal with - though much of it isn't democratic at all.
At the last elections Vladimir Putin's opponents weren't even allowed prime time TV slots, so nobody knew who they were.
The trouble is the Russians occupy one eighth of the world's land mass and hold massive mineral and energy reserves. We don't like to admit it but we sometimes need their support - or at least their compliance.
And the biggest threat we've come up with so far is to keep them out of the world's exclusive eight nation diplomatic club. The G8 could become G7 if Russia plays dirty again. They must really be quaking in their boots at the Kremlin after that one.
We're lucky here in Britain. We've got water all round. You're lucky over there. Nothing but a few wayward Canadians and Mexicans to worry about. Russia may be hugely powerful, but being surrounded injects an unpredictable element -- they tend to over react to any perceived threat. A shrink would call it paranoia.
By Ed Boyle