President Vladimir Putin publicly says he is remaining neutral in the Ukraine crisis, but he has ordered an urgent drill to test the combat at “readiness of his armed forces.”
Now that the very public Olympics are over in Sochi, sources close to the situation predict more of the same, short of military intervention.
Russia did avoid intervention during the ouster of the Ukrainian president who turned his back on the European Union seeking closer ties to the Russians, much to the dismay of many in western Ukraine more aligned with the West.
Putin’s feeble excuse for his latest actions is his “worries” of western military intervention.
There is no indication of this happening at present or the near future.
Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said, “In accordance with an order from the president of the Russian Federation, forces of the Western Military District were put on alert at 1400 (0500 ET) today," according to the Interfax news agency.
He claimed the military maneuvers had been previously planned involving approximately 150,000 armed personnel.
The western district encompasses most of western Russia and borders Ukraine, which lies between NATO nations and Russia.
Putin has made no public comment on Ukraine since President Viktor Yanukovich was driven from power over the weekend. The removal came after months of political turmoil that began with overtures from the European Union for closer ties with the country.
The United States and European nations have warned Russia against military intervention in Ukraine, but little can be done beyond weak sanctions.
Russia’s next move could include tactical exercises and involve warships from the Northern and Baltic Fleets. Warplanes would move to combat airfields.
Shoigu said the drill will test the counter-terrorism measures in place at military units. They have described the weak Ukrainian forces as "terrorists."
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