London–Military steps keep drawing Russia and the West toward conflict in Ukraine. With the Russians, the steps are big–this week they added troops and antiaircraft weaponry along their border with Ukraine–but both sides are circling warily toward a long and unpredictable struggle.

A separatist checkpoint in eastern Ukraine.

US intelligence officials also now describe Russia’s relations with the Ukrainian rebels as “combined Russian-separatist forces,” suggesting that Moscow is now in full control of the insurgents and training them. Russia also sent some fighter jets to Belarus, ostensive for air defense maneuvers.

For its part, the United States sent a batch of military trainers to Lviv, a city in far western Ukraine. You can’t get further than Russia than Lviv, but still it’s a symbolic moment: training a non-NATO to defend itself against Russia. Military advisors…where have I heard that phrase before?

NATO is also rejiggering its defenses in the Baltic states–Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia–the frontlines in the new Cold War–and beefing up air power in Poland.

It is getting more and more difficult to rationalize all this activity as posturing. There’s a gathering storm of guns in eastern Europe.

Report on Russian control of separatists.

NATO activities relating to the Baltic states.

An analysis on Russia’s strategy.

Criticism of Russia from an English-language newspaper in Moscow.

Time for the US to all jump in?

 

 

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