Every so often major airlines find themselves in an immensely powerful position: they have a purchase choice between the aircraft of two manufacturers, either of which would do the job, but both of which have serious politics riding on them. Right now that's Aeroflot.
Next week the Russian flag-carrier is due to commit the best part of $3 billion to an order for as many as 22 of either the Boeing 787 or Airbus A350. It's safe to assume that the management is thoroughly apprised of President Putin's views on the matter.
What those views might be are not so obvious. Boeing and Airbus have both been stepping up their activity in Russia in the past few years - creating jobs, investing, and promising more in future.
Some of what they've done is similar: for example both have created Moscow-based design centres engaged in broadly the same sort of activity, and both are buying substantial quantities of Russian titanium (not that they had much choice in that peculiar market).
But some of it is different. Boeing was earlier in building up its design centre and is today responsible for more Russian employment, but Airbus is catching up fast and is promising to place A350 manufactuirng work in Russia. Boeing has, with exquisite care, managed simultaneously to be seen to be involved in the Russian Regional Jet (RRJ) without actually committing very much to the project. Airbus, in the guise of France Inc with President Chirac at the helm, is benefitting from EADS' imminent equity investment in Sukhoi parent Irkut and Snecma's serious engineering involvement in the RRJ's engine (which in turn benefits Snecma).
And yet all the talk is of a 787 order. One way or another Boeing seems to have manoeuvred itself into the stronger position in this race, and perhaps its powerful role in the freighter world will be significant at a time when Aeroflot is also looking to get rid of its ageing DC-10 freighters.
Aeroflot has been favouring the Airbus narrowbodies over the 737 family, but the widebody deal dwarfs that business and the decision will not be made lightly.
There are other factors, a 787 win arguably leaves less room for consolation prizes. In a two-horse race to provide the engines, the only European offer is from Rolls-Royce competing with General Electric. Nothing wrong with that - but if the British company has been making progress in persuading Aeroflot to finally take its engines then it's been happening awfully quietly. Still, RR has pulled off some true surprises in the recent past and can't be discounted. An A350 order could still hand a huge deal to GE however.
I guess the decision is already made - but I wouldn't like to guess this time what it is.