I’m officially growing concerned.
The week before intensive diplomatic meetings began over the buildup of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border, American and Ukrainian officials watched from afar as Russia began emptying out its embassy in Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital.
On Jan. 5, 18 people — mostly the children and wives of Russian diplomats — boarded buses and embarked on a 15-hour drive home to Moscow, according to a senior Ukrainian security official.
My feeling is that Putin is moving beyond the point that he can plausibly stand down. Some things I’m reading:
- On escalation from the “gray zone.” This essay makes the case that Russia has failed in nearly all of its objectives from the 2014 war, apart from the annexation of Crimea. I’m not sure I’d go that far but I think we can overstate the degree to which Putin is playing a strong hand.
- This is a fine, well-reported essay on what the low-grade war in the Donbas region has meant for people on either side of the front lines.
- Three Ropucha class amphibious assault ships are leaving the Baltic, destination unknown.
- Adam Tooze has his own link wrap up.
- And another roundup by the always excellent Dmitry Gorenburg and Michael Kofman.