There is a lot of discussions going on about what Russia might do if the West ignores the Russian ultimatum.  All I propose to do here is just share a few thoughts with you.  This is not a thorough analysis, but only some musings of mine about what I hear.

USN carriers and other vessels now have a huge crosshair on their backs. They can only intimidate non-peer nations.

First, Putin is both very predictable and, at the same time, very unpredictable.  The predictable thing about Putin is that he only uses force when there is no other option left.  The very unpredictable thing about Putin is how and where he is willing to use force.  He did not intervene in the Donbass, which everybody expected, and he did not allow the LDNR to take even just Mariupol, never mind the rest of the Ukraine.  But when he moved a special task force into Syria, nobody saw it coming.  Ditto for the move to protect Crimea from a Ukrainian invasion.  When assessing Putin’s possible next steps, we need to keep in mind this paradox about him being both predictable and unpredictable.  So moving nukes to Kaliningrad and/or Belarus is not the only option for Russia.

Second, there is no way Russia will simply start a war, not against the Ukraine, not against the EU or NATO and not against the USA.  Only an ignorant fool would deliberately trigger a situation that might result in a planetary nuclear holocaust.  But Russia has plenty of other options.

Third, while in the 60s the USSR needed Cuba (or Venezuela) to deploy its missiles to force the US to remove its missiles from Turkey, Russia has no such need today.  Russian standoff weapons, both nuclear and conventional, can reach the USA from pretty much anywhere, including from Russia of course.

Fourth, all USN carriers and other ships now have hypersonic crosshairs painted on them, and they know it.  This will dramatically affect what the USN can be ordered to do or where to deploy.  Some observers have accused Russia of holding the Ukraine hostage.  This is silly nonsense.  But yes, the Russians are, for all practical purposes, holding the entire USN hostage, from small patrol boats to entire carrier battle groups.  The only, but important, exception to this domination are nuclear attack submarines, where Russia has qualitative parity (or even superiority) but where the USA has a strong quantitative advantage over Russia.  However, USN SSNs do not have modern missiles and they cannot win a war by themselves.  They also have their hands full with China.

Fifth, we know by the size of the Russian ground force currently deployed several hundred miles away from the Russian-Ukrainian border that this is a defensive force whose task would be to stop a Ukrainian ground attack on the LDNR (Ukie forces, more or less of a similar size, are deployed a few tens of kilometers from that same border).  So don’t expect Russian tanks in downtown Kiev anytime soon.

Besides, why should Russia interfere in any way if both the Ukraine and the EU are proactively committing cultural, economic, political, social and even spiritual suicide?


Putin has had enough, and Russia is with him, ready to defend herself to the bitter end. The Western elites will pay dearly for miscalculating their treatment of this great nation.


Dec 21, 2021


Sixth, we should not only focus on the European theater of military operations, let’s remember that China and Russia are now officially “more than allies” and that Russia can sell exactly the type of military hardware to China which would truly horrify the USA.  Likewise, Russia can easily target US forces anywhere in the Pacific, covertly and overtly, by the way.

Seventh, then there is the Middle East.  Just imagine what Russia could deliver, quickly, to, say, Iran (while providing verbal, but meaningful guarantees to Israel that Russia would not allow Iran to use those systems against Israel unless, of course, Israel attacks first (Note: there is not much love between Russia and Israel, but at least both sides are intelligent enough to understand each other, so that helps a lot when needed).

Eighth, Russia has a huge advantage over US+NATO in electronic warfare (from the tactical to the strategic level) and she can easily use it to a devastating effect while NATO has nothing to retaliate in kind.  This, by the way, also applies to the Middle East where, apparently, Russia has the means to disrupt/spoof GPS signals over the entire region.

Ninth, we should not assume that Russia can only retaliate proactively, that would be a mistake.  For example, Russia can do to Germany what the Kremlin did to Ukraine: stop taking their calls and allow NS2 to be fully stopped.  Why?  Because while this will only marginally affect Russia (gas prices are already sky-high and China wants a lot of it), while being a death sentence to the German economy, especially exports. So actually allowing NS2 to get “indefinitely” (in reality temporarily) suspended would be the best and, possibly, even the only way to bring the currently delirious Germans back to reality.

Tenth, Russia could stop selling energy to the USA.  Yes, the USA is importing plenty of Russian energy and if the Russians decide to stop this, the already clearly “pre-apocalyptic” state of the US economy will suffer even more and it's not like the USA can turn to Venezuela or Iran for energy :-)  As for “Biden”, he already had to release a part of the US reserves.

Eleventh, Russia could close her airspace to all NATO countries, I am talking about civilian air traffic here.  Russia has the most expensive airspace on the planet, and if she shuts it down to western carriers, the resulting chaos in the air and on the ground will be total.  As for the costs of flying around Russia, they would be absolutely huge.

Twelfth, we all know that Russia has a huge advantage over every other country in air defenses.  Combined with her advantage in electronic warfare and automated battle management systems, that means that Russia can deploy an “electronic cupola” not only over the Baltic or Black Sea, but also over the entire Ukraine or over major areas of the Middle East.  The US+NATO calls that “anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD)” and they are quite freaked out over this.

Thirteenth, then there is the obvious move: recognize the LDNR as sovereign states.  There is strong support for such a move both in the LDNR and in Russia.  The Kremlin could do that without moving a single soldier or firing a single shot, and then watch what the Ukronazis in Kiev would do about it.  My guess is that the Ukronazis would not do much about it, but if they do, the Russians will simply declare a no-fly zone over the LDNR and warn that any attack on the LDNR will result in the destruction of the attacking force.  If the Ukies persist, the attacking forces will be vaporized while the rest of the Ukie military will lose its cohesiveness and break apart under the combined effect of Russian strikes and A2/AD capabilities.  Putin recently spoke of “not yet recognized” and he spoke of “genocide“.  Now that we know that a submarine-launched Kalibr has a range “over 1000km”, let’s look at how a Russian sub can reach the entire Ukie coast from the very center of the Black Sea (Odessa would be less than 500km from that sub) and remember that the Ukies have no ASW capabilities at all and Soviet-era air defenses only (and those are in terrible shape anyway).  FYI – the Black Sea fleet has 6-7 SSKs while the Russian coastal defenses “cover” the entire Black Sea.

Fourteenth, it is rarely, if ever, reported in the West that the Ukraine has conducted terrorist attacks in both the LDNR and even Russia proper.  So far, Russia has never retaliated in kind.  But remember what happened after the Takfiris blew up several buildings in Russia?  If not, what happened is the 2nd Chechen war and the total obliteration of the Takfiris in Chechnya (which all western “analysts” said was an impossible task to begin with).  So far the FSB has successfully foiled all of the Ukrainian attacks, but if one succeeds, then it’s over for the Kiev regime.

Fifteenth, the Ukraine is currently building naval bases for NATO in several locations, including one in the Sea of Azov (that is the plan the two geniuses Johnson and Ze came up with).  This plan is supposed to create a Ukrainian navy within two years.  Can you imagine how easy it would be for Russia to let Johnson and Zelenskii “play Lego” for a little while and then simply disable these future bases?

I am quite sure that there are many more options which I have not even considered above.

The power of the Russian ultimatum is precisely in the fact that the Russians have promised to do “something” military and/or military-technical, but have not spelled out what that “something” might be.  I bet you that, in reality, we are not dealing with one single “something”, but a succession of gradual steps which will bring more and more pressure to bear on the US and NATO/EU (not that the latter matters in the least).  Keep in mind that while the USA can make counter-proposals they are in no position to make any credible threats, hence the fundamental asymmetry between the two sides: Russia can make credible threats, while the US can produce only more words, something the Russians have basically stopped paying attention to.

From now on, the game is simple:  Russia will gradually turn up the “pain dial” and see how the Empire will cope with this.  China will be doing the exact same as Russian and Chinese actions are obviously carefully coordinated.

My feeling is that Uncle Shmuel will let the Europeans squeal in pain and only provide them with “firm moral support for our friends, partners and allies” while only caring about one thing: himself.  As soon as the pain starts seriously biting the USA, the latter will be forced to negotiate with both Russia and China.

At which point Russia and China would have won.

How soon will Russia turn up the pain dial?

My guess is that the first steps will be taken soon unless the US side shows some tangible signs of being willing to not only meaningfully negotiate but to do so quickly.  Putin has just repeated today that no US delaying tactics will be acceptable to Russia.


  S I D E B A R  
China Backs Russia in Stand-Off with US on Ukraine, NATO. UK MSM Worries About "Three Front War"

So far, it appears that the US will make a counter-offer to Moscow.  If it is the usual bullcrap about the USA’s exclusivity, the pain dial will be turned up very soon, in the next couple of weeks.  If the “Biden” admin is actually serious and shows tangible, verifiable, signs that Washington will negotiate, then Russia could wait a little longer, we are talking a month, maybe just a bit more.  But nobody in Russia is talking about years, or even many months.  The clock is now ticking and the USA must act with great speed: before March for sure.

I will end on a semi-optimistic note: “Biden” has already surprised me at least twice and maybe “he” will do it again?  Quite a few Russian analysts seem to think that Sullivan is the voice of sanity in the US admin.  We also know that General Milley was not willing to risk a Chinese preemptive attack (which would be a fart in a hurricane compared to what the Russians could unleash against the USA if they decided to preempt a US attack on Russia).  Maybe there are even more such sane voices in the US state (deep or otherwise)?  Maybe the US will do what Russia did and try to appear to retreat just to win time?  Even that would be preferable to a full-scale war.  Besides, the Russians are well aware of a possible delaying strategy, hence they made their ultimatum pegged to a specific deadline: “show us something tangible, not just platitudes, or else we will take unilateral action“.

Any sane US President would not try to “call Putin’s bluff”.

Let’s hope and pray that “Biden” has enough sanity to understand that.  The US has just announced that an official reply will be presented to Moscow on Friday.

I remain very, very dubious, but hope dies last, I suppose.

—Andrei

PS: today Putin spoke to Sholtz and Macron, yesterday with Johnson.

PPS: Putin has declared today that he is “fed up” with the West: And when international law and the UN Charter interfere with them, they declare all this obsolete and unnecessary. And when something corresponds to their interests, they immediately refer to the norms of international law, the UN Charter, and international humanitarian rules. I’m fed up with such manipulations ”.

PPPS: just to give you an idea of the mood in Russia, today’s “60 minutes” talk show on Russia TV featured not one but TWO generals who are both also Heroes of Russia, including General Shamanov, the man who destroyed the Takfiris in Chechnya, and who declared that Russia will “rip to shreds” any imaginable enemy.  Does anybody think that Shamanov is bluffing?  I sure hope not.


Andrei Raevsky (The Saker), of Russian and Dutch descent, is the founding editor of the Saker network of sites dedicated to geopolitical analyses focused on the East/West struggle.

SELECT COMMENTS

Okay, let’s examine the post-rejection action of Russia.
What do they need to happen? What was the Ultimatum gambit all about?
Ukraine cannot join NATO.
The West has to recognize Russia’s sphere of influence.
NATO has to roll back away from East Europe.
The US and NATO have to cease flying bombers, UAVs, EW planes close to any of Russia’s borders.
And all of this in writing signed by US and NATO.
So, let’s start at the top.
Russia will do any and all things to destroy Kiev and break Ukraine into pieces. Russia has an active criminal investigation agency to pursue Ukies for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Trials could begin that are very embarrassing to the US, Germany, France, and Britain.

NATO depends on EU money. Russia will damage the EU economy through cut-off of energy and imports.
Supporting a useless military will be hard as EU economics gets worse each week.

Objects flying near Russia will suffer EW impact and UAVs will be downed. Russia has the means to make flying impossible. GPS navigation, electronic controls, and communications all can be shut off in any flying platform.

No Fly Zone over Russia’s sphere of influence will become normal.
The Arctic will become almost impossible for the West.
All these are possible actions Russia can take to get the results demanded in the Ultimatums.

Jim Miles on December 21, 2021  ·  at 8:00 pm EST/EDT
Canada has its military in Ukraine already on “training” missions. Rest assured that Canadian military equipment is also there. Jason Kenney, now premier of Alberta, has proven to be a political-social disaster for the province. As for Canada, we now have much worse in the personality of Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister – symbolic role, but good for presenting as next Liberal leader candidate, and she has a very strong Ukrainian background. She was the ‘leader’ of the now defunct Lima Group attempting to overthrow the Venezuela government and carries a strong anti-Russian sentiment.
Canada can be considered a non-sovereign nation. We are thoroughly linked in to the U.S. military and economic systems and our foreign policy is mainly that of supporting all U.S. imperial actions – military of economic – around the world. Most Canadian parliamentarians are supportive of this sycophantic relationship.

A friend’s daughter was in Ukraine for 6 months as part of the Canadian “training” mission. It was a joke, hardly any of them spoke the language, nor did they know how to operate their Soviet era hardware. So they cut the grass and drove visiting dignitaries around.

Chrystia Freeland is the granddaughter of a Ukrainian Nazi propagandist. She is also a former Harvard Rhodes Scholar, aka brainwashed convert to the cult of globalism. Needless to say a total Russophobe. As Finance Minister she has blown government debt though the roof. Not a good time to launch “Canada’s century” LOLOL.


Cosimo on December 21, 2021  ·  at 8:15 pm EST/EDT
Larchmonter, all your comments are accurate except for the idea that Russia would want to destroy Kiev and break Ukraine into pieces. That would be a losing move, and it’s not going to happen.
Attach everything to Russia or to a new Ukraine, except Galicia, and feed that to Poland, so the perpetrators of the Lvov Massacre can catch up with the descendants of their victims ? Sadly, Poland’s leaders proved in the late 1930’s that they preferred national suicide to any peace treaty with Russia. This has also been proven since 2014, I think. Poland is not really bothered by Nazis. So giving Galicia to Poland is not a bright idea.
Let Russia take 50 to 75% of the Ukraine and let the rest just fester ? That would be a huge economic drain, a cesspool for guerilla resistance. And it would still allow NATO to ratchet eastward all their bases. It’s probably the neo-con wet dream.
Let every part of the Ukraine vote in a free election with international monitors, to choose their own future – association with Russia, regional statelets, or a reformed Ukraine ? That’s the unicorn solution, with pastel colors, an Easter bunny and Santa Claus to pay for it all. Without a UN Security Council resolution, it would be impossible to get honest elections recognized internationally. Many nations have had free elections where the outcome was predictable and was hated by the empire, so the elections were intentionally obscured or simply lied about. The Western MSM sent zero reporters to cover the 2014 referendum in Crimea, despite its importance and despite the official offers of security and non-interference on the reporting. The MSM didn’t bother to have on-the-scene reporting where they could make up all sorts of lies. That was either out of laziness, because they feared the lies would unravel, or – most likely – because the MSM didn’t want anyone even thinking about anything.
Give the ethnically Hungarian part of the Ukraine to Hungary ? Great idea, and that would move the income from smuggling over to Hungary. But that does nothing to solve the rest of the Ukraine.
The only good move I can see is to invite the younger Nazis to party in Moscow. Enough beer to lubricate things, and enough good food for real conversations with real Russians. That’s one thing no one is expecting, I tend to think those Nazis who have working brains must be acutely aware by now that their beloved Ukraine is in a hell of a mess, and that the cause is not the Russians, but their corrupt leaders.
And … we need to think about what the tribe with small hats are planning for the Ukraine, as discussed in the Israeli press.

      • @Cosimo,
        Russia doesn’t want the people that come with pieces of Ukraine. Donbass is load enough on the Russian budget. 25-30 million people who can’t fend for themselves and whose assets as a nation have been sold off to the West and others for pennies is a giant welfare state. Food, heating, energy, water, medical costs would cripple the Russian economy. That’s not empty space in Ukraine. It’s got a huge population of uneducated and not very skill or resourceful people. The brains, talent and productive have emigrated since 2015.
        There is a long shot proposition that Novorossiya may be resurrected, but it will become a stand alone state, not part of Russia any time soon.
        If you read the words carefully of what the Kremlin has said about Donbass you will see that recognition of Donbass as separate states is as much as Russia will do to embrace the oblasts.
        The other imperative the Kremlin has stated is they will force the end of the Maidan nazi government in Kiev if they have to.
        So, what I wrote is accurate and based on Kremlin policy and action for 7.5+ years. Policy statements by Grizlov, Kozak and Surkov, Lavrov and Putin are quite clear.
        Of course, if attacked, Russia will reconsider everything because war means Russia will have to end the Kiev regime, and the NATO support and the US supply and training and governmental operations.
        What is very clear is no one will be running Ukraine as threat to Russia. Ukraine will be neutralized.
  • The west has been escalating and increasing tensions and doing more provocations year after year for a long time. At some point a forceful reaction from Russia was expected.
    But at the same time the west has a distorted representation of Russia which makes them believe Russia is weaker than it really is. It’s likely that after years of escalations the west was expecting Russia s concessions rather than Russia’s ultimatum.
    So I wonder if for the west what Russia is doing with this ultimatum is a surprise or not.
    • So I wonder if for the west what Russia is doing with this ultimatum is a surprise or not.
      Considering the dismal level of education and intelligence of western “specialists”, I would say that this must have been a total shock.  Also, for a smart person working in the West, warning about this possibility would put his/her career at risk as the western “intelligence” agencies are hopelessly politicized (remember all their past “predictions”).
      I think zionazis won’t back down. We all know how delusional they are, besides, they need war. Here’s a reality check published at RT recently: Germany warns China its recent naval mission was just a ‘teaser’.
      Well, after hundreds of years of plundering the planet, do you really believe they will just give up on their world domination project? I wish they would.
      I say, unleash the kraken!
      • I agree. I think the west wants a global war. For the last 30 + years Russians have been handle as second class world citizen. They have no right to security of their homeland only the west have that right. They know what they are doing and they also know that at one moment Russia would say to here and no further. (Munich speech Putin) Are we at that point now ?? The plan is world domination. For that goal you need to take out Russia, because they do not give up there right. Why would they stop now ? Russian can maybe only improve its capabilities so why wait. Further the western population is let say mentally brainwashed. Russian are bad propaganda, no stop 24/7/365 for a full let say 14 years. (2007 Munich speech putin) They can use the same slogans as with the corana virus. ‘’ We are all in it together against corona’’, O sorry today we change the slogan a little bit ‘’We are all in it together against Russia’’. Or ‘’we do it for the older’’ can become ‘’we do it for the home land’’ Why would they stop. Europe will be collateral damage. Who cares about the millions of lives lost or hurt in europe. They did not care before so why now ??
  • I think the bigger threat to Empire is China, because once China overtakes the West there is no looking back.  Israel on the other hand sees Iran as the biggest threat, both militarily and economically. If Iran gets loose, Israel will not be able to close the gap.
    What Russia has is technological superiority at the moment. The gap can be narrowed and overcome in the future. The US does not need a confrontation with Russia right now when Russia is at her strongest. The other two (one for Empire, the other for Israel and AIPAC) are bigger strategic concerns.
    My guess is, the US will climb down and back off quickly from Russia. But things will heat up elsewhere.
    Thanks, Saker for this excellent site for news and analysis.
     
    • I doubt the US-NATO can survive that much longer without a drastic change in fortunes. All of the air is being sucked from their lungs and the empire is collapsing in front of us. It’s do-or-die time. I assume Putin is aware that something big is being planned and his actions reflect his ‘strike first, strike hard’ philosophy. I suspect he will not allow the west to chicken dance around the dance floor while buying time. Instead I think you’re right, Saker. He will keep the west off balance and unable to respond with some new action every time they try to side track the proposals laid out by Ryabkov in the not-an-ultimatum, draft treaty.

    • I agree strongly, that Israel must dispose of Iran to fulfill their plan, while the US needs to curb China, but these two needs are mutually exclusive, since Israel requires the Chinese terminus of the silkroad for their project. One party must lose here, either China or US, and Israel chose China beforehand. Fascinating how China has been built from Western finance, and has succeeded in becoming, more than an ally, with Russia, against the US. After this current business is set aside, with its secret ultimatums, this relationship will dissolve, the real question is how much it will cost to get in bed with a dragon.

    • Ummm, have you looked around the US recently? The US is not closing any technological gaps anytime soon. The US is living on the accumulated intellectual capital of the past. Unless they plan on actually reverse engineering one of those UFOs the Navy keeps whining are toying with them all the time, they’re not catching up.

      There is also the fact that we all know the US will collapse into civil war in next few years. The society here is disintegrating rapidly to the point where even the Pentagon and CIA types that started the problem (or at least fueled it) admit that we’re trending into civil war. Add in the inevitable economic collapse next year, and the inevitable fuel and consumer good shortages once Russia and China turn off the trade spigots, and the whole thing falls apart. The game is over. The only choice the US has is to either accept defeat or have a tantrum, start a fight and lose even worse.

      But the time is up. This is pretty obvious from the totally ridiculous European panic over a harmless variant so they can push through their idiotic Great Reset, meanwhile oblivious to the fact that the rest of the world is not going to play the game and join the metaverse. The collective West knows their time is up, and they’re realizing very quickly their idiotic plans are falling apart left and right and they have anything but time on their sides. All time does is allow China to leapfrog them even more.

      So we’ll know shortly whether they’re going to tap out finally or go full retard and try to blow the whole world up on the way out.

  • I know the tiff’s between Russia and the Outlaw US Empire, but IMO the first bits of pain are already being applied to the EU via the relatively sudden reduction in gas transit through the Yamal pipe. I also found it curious that according to the Russian readout, Putin and Scholz didn’t discuss gas at all, although it was made very clear that until Kiev “honors” Minsk, there will be no further Normandy format chats. A recent item announced that China-EU trade volume via rail broke last year’s mark which IMO cements the EU’s geoeconomic dependency on China. The new Scholz regime seems very determined to obey the Outlaw US Empire’s diktat in its relations with China, so a disruption on that front would be bad for Germany and EU. You discussed Russian energy exports and there’s NASA cooperation, both of which could be delayed. As far as diplomatic expertise, both Sullivan and Blinken are boobs and lightyears behind when compared to Russia’s diplomatic cadre. The Duopoly string pullers are also way out of their league. The observation Glenn Diesen made about NATO’s expansion setting itself up for this crisis rings very true, so it could be undone by reversing its steps, which at the moment seems the most logical choice.
    But as Putin and yourself note, what’s at the core of this crisis is an extremely deep-seated Russophobia akin to the most virulent racism that goes back at least to the 1850s if not earlier. The animus against Russia will continue until that racism is utterly erased, an act that will take generations. So, while the surface features of the crisis have a solution, the roots will take great effort to undo.

    Have you noticed that the West don’t discus or threaten – they just do (500 soldiers here, anti-rocket batteries there, sanctions over there etc.). They never apologise, justify and explain their actions. There is not a single protest against this madness which sees a united West going full on on Russia and their hands are completely free. This is in a stark contrast with the Russians who add explanation on justification on clarification and very often walk back their initial statements (Peskov is notoriously known for “oh, it’s nothing, just a friendly reminder that 14000 Russians have been killed by our Vukro partnyors and brothers”.
    I believe that Russia is wrong to expend its credibility by hinting and never committing (They’ve been doing it for a long time). In such high-risk situations, you either put up or shut up. You would have calculated the odds, gains and losses. In the face of universal enmity of the West, Russia must start hurting them and the current attempts to water down the impact of the initial statement can only weaken their already awkward position (Russia is very fond of this tactic).
    People tiresomely insist on Russia’s wonderful weapons and spirit etc. Has it occurred to them that the West will simply steer clear of domains where it’s relatively weak and attack where it has a serious advantage.
    I am going to make my grand point here: Russia’s “ultimatum that wasn’t” doesn’t change anything. Nobody has been shocked, surprised or even miffed. The US might agree to “negotiate” in order to dilute the impact of the Russian drive. Beyond that – nothing. The problem has always been and remains – at which exact point does Russia do that frightening “something” if the West makes tiny but non-stop steps towards its goal? They are not in a hurry – they just need to neutralise Russia’s ability to obtain a convincing casus belli. This of course can involve occasional negotiations which serve to buy time etc. And every time some Russian delegate will wax triumphant that the talks were “frank and constructive”.
     
    • “Have you noticed that the West don’t discus or threaten – they just do (500 soldiers here, anti-rocket batteries there, sanctions over there etc.). They never apologise, justify and explain their actions. There is not a single protest against this madness which sees a united West going full on on Russia and their hands are completely free.”
      That is it.
      I don’t understand what Russia is expecting by using so many words, while her “partners” ostensibly ignore them. They do know the crimes they have been committing all over the world, don’t they? So I wonder what the use is of reminding them twice a day they are criminals and hypocrites, while begging them to be more sensible and honest.
      It looks like a desperate attempt of appeasement. It doesn’t project strength and confidence, and I don’t like the feeling.
      I’d like to hear from Andrei on this. I hope he’d prove us wrong.

HC on December 21, 2021  ·  at 7:58 pm EST/EDT
I think Russia is putting pressure on the western side while at the same time defending Russia’s interests. What is a mystery is the west’s reaction. I think the US will try to buy some time by starting negotiations with Russia. The fact that there is a meeting scheduled for friday is indeed a good sign. Net results may not be immediately achieved, but at least they will start talking. This should relieve some tensions. I’d say the chances of war goes down with this meeting.
Things may be somewhat clearer after friday, both from the american side, as well as from the russian side.
Things will get more interesting if China *also* makes some demands, or take some bold action. That’d be a very interesting development, and would raise the Russia ultimatum as a strategic move to another level. This would probably make the West soil its pants…