With Interfax reporting that Belarus has begun full-scale military drills in a "readiness check", images from Russia and Ukraine suggest the worst-case scenario - that Russia is making preparations to invade Ukraine, not just Crimea but perhaps as far west as Kharkiv, or even beyond - is more possible. Talks have broken down:
- *LAVROV SAYS RUSSIA, U.S. REMAIN AT ODDS ON UKRAINE: INTERFAX
- *LAVROV SAYS RUSSIA TO RESPECT `WILL' OF CRIMEAN PEOPLE
Russia now has a massive force of tanks, troops, artillery, aircraft, and naval forces in position to potentially invade mainland Ukraine from Crimea in the south, but also from positions east and north of Ukraine.
- *LAVROV SAYS RUSSIA TO RESPECT CHOICE MADE AT CRIMEAN REFERENDUM
- *LAVROV SAYS KERRY `DIDN'T THREATEN RUSSIA WITH ANYTHING'
- *LAVROV SAYS WESTERN SANCTIONS WOULD BE COUNTERPRODUCTIVE
And subtley poitning out the hypocrisy:
- RUSSIA'S LAVROV SAYS IF KOSOVO WAS A SPECIAL CASE THEN CRIMEA SHOULD BE A SPECIAL CASE TOO
Then Lavrov said this:
- RUSSIA HAS HAD AND CAN HAVE NO PLANS TO INVADE SOUTHEAST OF UKRAINE - LAVROV
Which seems to run counter to the following images pouring in from across Russia of even more firepower on the move.
And images suggest more to come...
- *LAVROV SAYS `EVERYONE UNDERSTANDS WHAT CRIMEA MEANS FOR RUSSIA'
Which we suspect is why all the tanks are rolling