At the start of December Mr Putin's party won the elections in Russia. At once there was the suggestion that not all had gone well, there was suspicion about the outcome. This in turn led to caution in the way the results were greeted by some European Leaders, but not all. The effervescent Mr Sarkozy heaped praise on Mr Putin from the moment the results were known. Then, just a few days later we see that Renault, in partnership with Nissan, have bought a 25% stake in the Russian car maker that we call Lada, but is called Avtovaz in Russia. Could these events be related? To get this stake the French and their partners beat off competition from, amongst others, General Motors and Volkswagen.