Putin: A Nuclear Armed and Dangerous Russia

  • Russia proposes "corridor" for encircled Kiev troops
  • "Best not to mess with us," says defiant Putin
  • EU ministers discuss new sanctions on Moscow, other measures
  • Kiev prepares to defend port in path of pro-Russian advance

That was President Vladimir Putin's message on Friday, the same day a British government source claimed that Russian troops had significantly ratcheted up their military incursion into Ukraine.
"I want to remind you that Russia is one of the most powerful nuclear nations," the President said. "This is a reality, not just words."

And Russia's military may be getting digging in deeper in Ukraine. The British government source told CNN on Friday that Russia has moved 4,000 to 5,000 military personnel -- a figure far higher than one U.S. official's earlier claim of 1,000 troops.

So what's Russia's endgame? Does it simply want to protect civilians or ethnic Russians in Ukraine? Or does it endeavor to develop a land bridge between Crimea -- which split from Ukraine to become part of Russia months ago, amid the unrest following President Viktor Yanukovych's ouster -- and the Russian border? Or perhaps take over all of Ukraine now?

The UK government source said Russian forces are fighting alongside rebels around Luhansk and Donetsk. It's too early to gauge their impact, though even if propping up the pro-Russian separatists for months longer so that Ukraine's military doesn't next turn its attention to taking back Crimea could be considered a victory.

"At the very least, the Russian deployments are creating the conditions for a frozen conflict going into winter and .. ensure that Kiev is sufficiently distracted ... to prevent it from refocusing its attention on Crimea," the source said.


Putin Boasts Nuclear Power

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