Russia: President Putin met the CEO of Siemens at his residence outside Moscow today. Siemens promised to continue working with the Russian firm Gazprom and to continue doing business in Russia.
Comment: The Wall Street Journal published an insightful article describing how German firms have been working behind the scenes all month to maintain Russian economic ties. The Journal reported there has been no rush by German companies to leave Russia as the result of sanctions. German businessmen reportedly have informed the Berlin government that President Putin "will not cave in to sanctions."
Russia-Ukraine: According to unidentified sources in Crimea, a convoy of 10 Russian heavy equipment transporters moved formerly Ukrainian T-64 tanks to northern Crimea. Other press sources reported separate convoys moving about Crimea and a steady increase in the signs and symbols of Russian sovereignty, including the use of rubles in commerce.
Comment: The Russians and Crimeans appear to be adjusting Crimea's defenses, apparently as a precaution against a Ukrainian attack of some kind.
Press reports suggest sentiment is building in Transnistria, on Ukraine's western border, for integration with Russia. Russian media also reported that pro-Russian sentiment is building in Odessa, a key town between Crimea and Transnistria, where a pro-Russian rally was held over the weekend.
Several Russian commentators and one Ukrainian analyst have suggested that Russia's intention is to make Ukraine a land-locked country, seizing all oblasts along the southern coast. That would provide a land corridor from western Russia to Transnistria and would include Crimea.
News services have not reported military movements that would suggest preparations for operations of this nature. However, the US Defense Secretary warned again today about the Russian troop buildup along the eastern border of Ukraine.
Some Russian press coverage appears to be laying the foundation for additional operations to protect ethnic Russians. The main theme is that the regime in Kyiv is filled with "Nazis." That seems to resonate. Ukrainian power and water cuts to Crimea reinforce suspicion of the new Kyiv authoritiesand encourage impulses that favor annexing more of Ukraine.
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