Arms, oil and fake news: 6 ways Russia is changing the world
Updated 2025 GMT (0425 HKT) March 16, 2018
Moscow (CNN)In the last four years, Russia has annexed Crimea from Ukraine, meddled in a US election and helped turn the tide of the Syrian war in Bashar al-Assad's favor.
Now it's in a major diplomatic row with the UK, which blames Moscow for the poisoning of a former spy, his daughter, and a British policeman in the English countryside. The UK's top defense official said Thursday that Russia was "ripping up the international rulebook."
Such an accusation is likely music to President Vladimir Putin's ears -- his popularity tends to spike when Russia confronts the West, polls show.
He is well on track to retain power in an election this Sunday, but he is showing a growing appetite for power beyond his country's borders, and Russia is beginning to fill the void in parts of the world where the US once wielded influence.
Here are some ways Russia is stepping up around the globe.
Accusations that Russia meddled in the 2016 US election -- the same election that saw Donald Trump's meteoric rise -- have rocked Washington and led to several formal investigations.
US intelligence agencies accuse Russia of hacking into and releasing the emails Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman and other servers belonging to the Democratic Party. This was in an attempt, they say, to influence the outcome of the vote.
European nations have been dealing with Russian cyber-meddling for some time, cybersecurity researchers say, and the UK, France and Germany have all accused Russia of trying to influence votes in their countries.
British Prime Minister Theresa May gave a stern warning to Russia in November last year, accusing it of trying to "weaponize information" to disrupt the world order.
One of the same troll armies that meddled in America's 2016 election, a CNN analysis found, also posted dozens of pro-Brexit messages on the day the UK held a referendum and voted to leave the European Union. The troll army has established ties to the Russian government.
Germany accused Russia of propagating fake news to stir far-right sentiments in the country and in June last year it passed a law to tackle fake news, forcing online platforms to remove false reports within 24 hours or face hefty fines.
President Putin has boasted about Russia's military might many times, and Syria has felt the force of that power profoundly in recent years.
Russian warplanes have bombed territory, and mercenaries and advisers on the ground have supported offensives to prop up Syrian President Assad. Russia's firepower has helped turn the war around in Assad's favor and has made the country a game-changing player in the complex multi-sided conflict. That role also means a stronger foothold in the Middle East for Russia.
Russia's military power also enabled Moscow to annex the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in 2014. It was a move that led to sanctions and condemnation from the West but one that perhaps boosted Russia's image as a major world power. Russia still backs separatists in Ukraine.
Elsewhere, Russia has increased its military influence in Libya, a country still in chaos since the 2011 death of Moammar Gadhafi in the Arab Spring. Moscow is courting Gen. Khalifa Haftar in the country, a rival