There are Duma elections at the end of 2003, and Presidential elections a few months after that. The perception that Putin suffers from the “Yeltsin syndrome” (i.e., constantly giving in to the U.S. and getting nothing commensurate in return) is growing and being fostered by the Communists and the other usual suspects. Despite the higher degree of control over the media that Putin has compared to what Yeltsin had, the fact that people like Leonid Ivashov (ex-Army Colonel-General and extreme anti-U.S. hard-liner) are getting plenty of air time on Russian TV is a bad sign. Finally, the head Mufti of the government-sponsored union of Russian and CIS Moslems called for a jihad against the U.S.—last declared against the Nazis in WW2—and had to be restrained by Putin.
The effects of Russia's anti-American backlash are being felt in economic terms as well—U.S. firms in Russia may find themselves being boycotted before too long, and in some cases already are. While the amount of money involved is still relatively small by U.S. megacorp standards, it foreshadows the closing of a potentially lucrative market—and, given other boycotts starting in the rest of the world, puts a big chunk of the U.S. economy at risk.
I said that our policies toward Russia were designed to exacerbate the crisis, rather than resolve it. A good example of this is the tension between Russia and Georgia, which is very high for a number of reasons—most of which have U.S. policies at their root. The major ones are the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline (designed and explicitly promoted as taking oil and gas exports from Central Asia and the Caspian Sea completely out of Russian hands), which was pushed by the Clinton Administration and is still pushed by the Bush Administration as a key foreign policy goal. Another is Georgian President Shevardnadze's sub rosa support for the Chechen rebels while hiding behind America's skirts, despite our professed partnership in the anti-terror coalition. A third is U.S. use of the Shevardnadze-inspired GUUAM organization as a catspaw to pull parts of the former Soviet Union out of the Russian orbit.*
Georgia signed a Status of Forces Agreement with the U.S. a month or so ago, which made it explicit that the U.S. presence there was not going to be the limited, short-term anti-terrorist training mission we had proclaimed.
Furthermore, we began U-2 flights over Georgia, ostensibly to look for al-Qaida terrorists known to be associated with the Chechens in the Pankisi Gorge, over Russian objections that the real reason was to observe Russian operations in Chechnya and the North Caucasus. When the news broke, the Georgians typically denied that any U.S. military flights over Georgia were happening at all, and then lied that the planes weren’t U-2s, until forced to admit the truth by detailed information made public by the Russian Air Force. In response, the Russian Duma voted 354 - 4 that U.S. activities in Georgia were a threat to Russia's national security, while General Kvashnin personally supervised major military exercises just across the border in the North Caucasus Military District. A really ominous sign came when Colonel-General Mikhailov, the chief of the Russian Air Force, stated in several public interviews widely circulated in Russia that the U-2s were being tracked with radar, missiles and fighters, and that if one violated the Russian border “by so much as one kilometer” he would order it to be shot down immediately. This kind of rhetoric hasn't been heard for years; no one in the Russian government has repudiated this statement, and as noted above neither the Russian Air Force nor the Russian Army have hesitated to act on their own regarding Georgia and Chechnya. I have yet to see this mentioned anywhere in the Western press—and as a result, I doubt most people know or understand just how critical the situation is becoming.