It started with satellite photos of the Russian military buildup near Ukraine in early November 2021. Ever since, Russia and the West have been fighting a war of nerves with frenetic diplomacy accompanied by mutual accusations of spreading misinformation, allegations of false-flag operations, Western intelligence reports and statements at the highest levels predicting an imminent invasion, and Russian denials.
Last week, Presidents Macron and Putin had a phone call. According to the Kremlin readout of the call, “at the French side’s initiative”, President Putin once again drew attention to the absence of a substantive response from the United States and NATO to the Russian initiatives. He also stressed the reluctance of the leading Western powers to encourage the Kyiv authorities to implement the Minsk agreements.
Since there is no likelihood of Russia and the West coming to an agreement soon on the Russian proposals for a new security architecture in Eurasia, the standoff at Ukraine’s borders has become a stress test for all the involved, but primarily for the people and the leadership of Ukraine.