in fact, given the increased US involvement and the general unrest in the Middle East it probably pushed back their goals somewhat
Not at all. It made the position of Islamist groups that were arguing from more moderate positions, and generally preferred a democratic transition to their goal (like Muslim Brotherhood and its offshoots), much weaker. At the same time, it made the position of groups arguing for violent jihad much stronger - especially since, with foreign intervention in Muslim countries, they could declare jihad to be fard ayn (individually obligatory for any observant Muslim) on scriptural grounds. It also created lots of martyrs.
Think about where things were before the intervention, and where they are now. Taliban is rapidly regaining control over Afghanistan, and in the meantime Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan are also rapidly Islamized by similar Salafist strains. In Pakistan, military and intelligence are stuffed with Taliban-friendly Islamists. In Iraq and Syria, large swaths are under control of an armed jihadi group that has officially declared itself to be the Caliphate, and which practices the version of Islam that even many other extremist Salafi organizations find too brutal - and they keep expanding territory and getting a steady influx of volunteers. Volunteers, I must add, that come from our own countries, and are in many cases not only our citizens by law, but are born and raised here within our culture - and yet falling under the influence of extremist preachers who convert them. Do you really think that we could see anything on that scale without the free (to them) advertising that the West gave to jihadis?
Unless you believe that intelligence gathering is an act on war (in which case every single country on the face of Earth is at war with every other country, with the possible exception of some African countries and microstates), then, no, CIA is not an organization of war.
And as a libertarian, you should be ashamed of yourself - you're engaging in exact same kind of sophistry that you decry in your opponents the statists whenever they "creatively reinterpret" some constitutional provision, like in Wickard v. Filburn.
CIA is just one TLA out of many more that are part of the same problem. This mentality, that they can do whatever the hell they want, and fuck law, due process and constitution, so long as they catch the arbitrarily defined bad guys of the day, is pervasive throughout all government agencies that have anything even remotely to do with law enforcement or military. NSA and CIA spying are links of the same chain that includes DEA no-knock warrants, police departments buying MRAPs for bragging rights etc.
And yes, there are some agencies that should literally go to jail wholesale. For example, I don't see how you can be working for DEA and not be complicit in activities that, 50 years ago, would be decried as stereotypical police state jackboot thug activity - and all that violence for the sake of suppressing non-violent, consensual activity (well, at least nominally - in practice, these days, it's more often an excuse, and the actual goal is cashing in on asset forfeiture).
I am a little disturbed, by the way, that you think that the terrorist organization that the Strelkov is running is not getting enough support.
Uh... I do not support the present Russian politics at all (even though I am a citizen). What I'm saying is that the separatists themselves - and many Russians - believe that they are not getting enough support from Russia, and blaming that on "traitors". "Enough support" here generally equates to moving the troops in openly.
I'm certainly not relishing the thought of an all-out military conflict between Russia and the West, either.
What makes you believe that it's Putin that's playing for that side, and not the other way around?
One thing that I'm actually seriously afraid of is that Putin will use the separatists to stage a coup inside the country. Consider this: right now, it seems clear that without outside intervention, rebels are doomed - Ukrainian forces grind them down slowly but surely, even despite the heavy losses. They know it full well, and they have been demanding help from Russian government since the declaration of independence - and then complaining that what they get is still not enough (which is true). Some of the lower-level commanders and rank and file have already been calling Putin a traitor on record. But never the top brass, like Strelkov. In fact, Strelkov is pretty much always very deferential to Putin, and called him "supreme commander" on occasion.
Now, imagine what happens when the last stronghold is overrun. The remaining forces - doubtlessly, the most loyal and battle-hardened of Strelkov's troops - will try to retreat across the border into Russia. If, by some "miracle", they are allowed to pass safely through, what do we have? A charismatic leader, widely popular in Russia itself, with a clout of an almost-martyr for the cause that most people root for, valiantly and losing the battle only because of "traitors" - even if he's not pointing any fingers at them (just makes him that much more noble, hey!). And several thousand armed loyal troops at his command. Now, what if Putin declares that the only reason why he was not able to order a direct intervention and turn the tide is because of all the traitors in the government, and that he needs help purging them? Strelkov then turns the entire Dolchstosslegende around and says that, yes, the people who were complaining about treason were right all along, but Putin was not the traitor, the traitors were the one who bound him and prevented him from acting - and marches straight onto the Kremlin. No-one would stop him; heck, I know for sure that a lot of people would cheer, and most police and military units would just step aside if not join outright. Once he arrives, we have a bloody but brief purge, with some bodies displayed for the amusement of the crowd, and Putin is now officially a dictator for life, Defender of Holy Rus or whatever titles they decide to bestow on him, with his own personal loyal guard to protect him.
Yes, Ukrainians do in fact have a special place in that model - they are considered "Russians who forgot/rejected their roots" (ditto Belarusians).
At the same time, you're also correct that the current conflict raised the hostility between two nations to a level that was never seen before, and it is also felt in Russia. The rhetoric was updated accordingly: now Ukrainians are deemed to consist of two parts - the larger one that is the unconsciously subjugated Russian-at-heart majority that can be rehabilitated (by force of arms if necessary), and the minority of hardcore "true Ukrainians" who do the subjugation, and for whom hating Russia is in their very nature. The latter are generally associated with Galicia (many people have suddenly discovered that those lands have not been in Russia, or any state that Russia claims succession to, for over 700 years before the 20th century - and therefore decided that reclassifying the inhabitants as inherently hostile is alright after all).
Thing is, I don't think the people who run the country believe in all this crap. They peddle it to the population because it's an easy sell and meshes well with their policies.
So median income is falling in terms of actual purchasing power, just not quite that fast.
You might need to apply for a crappy card at first if you really have NO history
Getting a credit card with no history whatsoever might be tricky unless you're really young. But even in that case, pretty much any bank will happily give you a credit card if you place a security deposit with them (the credit limit will then be tied to the amount of said deposit). That still counts as credit and lets you build up credit score - and eventually they will release the deposit. I had to resort to that when I moved into US from another country - given my age and employment, combined with the complete and utter lack of any credit score records whatsoever, that's the only arrangement that I could find. I got my security deposit back on the second year of using the card, and started getting more card offers from other banks at about the same time, which I assume coincides with crossing some threshold on the credit score.
They already have to include non-Slavs, though. Remember that Russia is like 10-15% Muslim (depending on who you ask), and most of these are non-Slavs. Then of course you have a bunch of other guys like Yakuts or Buryats.
The overarching ideology is actually Eurasianism; Russians are seen as the "core nation" in that model, the one that binds everyone else together around it. Not dissimilar to how Stalin described USSR after WW2.