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Ominous Signs
Is Putin Readying an Invasion?

Vladimir Putin could be readying his next move in Ukraine. Reuters lays out the troubling signs:

The Russian Foreign Ministry, responding to the death of at least one protester in Ukraine’s eastern city of Donetsk, repeated President Vladimir Putin’s declaration of the right to invade to protect Russian citizens and “compatriots”.

“Russia is aware of its responsibility for the lives of compatriots and fellow citizens in Ukraine and reserves the right to take people under its protection,” it said.

Ukrainian health authorities say one 22-year-old man was stabbed to death and at least 15 others were being treated in hospital after clashes in Donetsk, the mainly Russian-speaking home city of Ukraine’s ousted President Viktor Yanukovich.

The combination of large Russian troop movements near the Ukrainian frontier, a massive crackdown on what’s left of the free press in Russia, and ongoing deadly riots in eastern Ukraine are very bad signs. We don’t know what Putin is planning next, and it’s possible that even he hasn’t made up his mind. But if he were planning to invade Ukraine, this is exactly what he would be doing.

Putin may be calculating like this: He can’t withdraw from Crimea now without unacceptable humiliation and loss of face at home and abroad. If the West is going to slap sanctions on him for Crimea, he might as well grab a few more chunks of Ukraine while he’s at it. Might as well be hanged for a sheep as for a lamb.

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  • free_agent

    And also, “Ask for more than you’re willing to settle for.” If the West spends all its political effort to keep Russia out of eastern Ukraine, it won’t have any resources to get Russia out of Crimea, or even to push back on the leverage Russia had over Ukraine a month ago.

    • Boritz

      Yes, the best defense is a good offense. Putin no doubt learned that before he shaved.

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