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Russia's end games and Putin's dilemmas


As warnings from Washington and London intensify, the period of maximum danger in the Ukraine standoff has begun. Even if conflict is avoided, the status quo has gone.

There are several reasons to believe conflict over the Ukraine is imminent. The military build-up is complete. Russia has added tactical support elements, including medical units, to its already large and comprehensive array of troops and equipment deployed to the east, north, and south of Ukraine.

Additional naval units have entered the Black Sea, military exercises with Belarusian forces have begun and, along with those on Russian territory, these can all provide cover for an intervention of some sort.

Far from being comforting, comments by Vladimir Putin and his entourage that it will not be Russia provoking a conflict are ominous. Russian media has ramped up domestic programming about the ‘imminent Ukrainian fascist threat’ to the motherland. And a recent US intelligence briefing alleges sophisticated preparations by Russian intelligence include releasing a video of a staged attack on Russian-speaking civilians in northern Ukraine.

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