As a series of high-level talks between the United States, European allies and Russia wind down this week, an uptick in Moscow's military muscle on its borders will remain a preoccupation of western diplomats long after they return to their duty stations.
The roughly 100,000 Russian troops stationed near Ukraine constitutes the biggest security crisis in years for Europe and its allies, including the US. While in Kazakhstan, Russian President Vladimir Putin took this month's brutal crackdown from the regime's President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev as an opportunity to remind protesters revolutions will never be allowed to spread in the region and by deploying Moscow-led security alliance troops to help quell the unrest, the central Asian country remains firmly in his sphere of influence.
The tone of Putin's rhetoric and the trajectory of military deployment leave little doubt over his intentions: to regain control over a wide swath of the former Soviet Union -- even to the point of rolling back the footprint of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to the Cold War years. Indeed, during high-stakes NATO-Russia talks in Brussels last week, the chief US negotiator, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, told CNN Moscow had made no commitments to deescalate on the Ukrainian border.
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Editor’s Note: This op-ed was published by CNN. The Kyiv Independent is aggregating it as a recommendation to our readers.