Under the guise of “snap inspections'' and military drills, Russia has been amassing troops in Crimea and on the Ukrainian border, sparking fears of a Russian invasion and direct confrontation with the U.S. On Thursday, orders were given to start withdrawing troops, indicating that an escalation has been avoided--for the time being. Fears of a Russian invasion of Ukraine are constant, and founded; however, determining the probability is likely best achieved by monitoring Zelensky’s next move in Donbass.
What changes things is the fact that the comedian-turned-president has been emboldened by Washington to make his own moves (to a certain extent), without being dictated by oligarchs. This makes Zelensky slightly more unpredictable. If Kyiv launches an offensive against the Russians in Donbass, Putin will move in, very decisively. But for now, there are no indications that an offensive on Donbass is being considered.
Outside of that, the situation for Putin in Ukraine remains relatively unchanged, and the recent amassing of troops was likely a testing ground for the response of a new US administration. They got their answer: No new threat, for now. It’s also a message to Zelenksy to tread carefully in general.
In fact, Biden is narrowing in on corruption in Ukraine, even sanctioning oligarch Igor Kolomoisky--an important figure who financed paramilitaries to take on the Russians in Crimea. Biden’s sentiment is that…