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Posted: Jan 15, 2022 12:01 AM

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As the predictably useless U.S.-Russia security talks in Europe are wrapping up this week, Putin is launching another huge live fire drill on the border of Ukraine. In addition to the 100,000 combat-ready troops that were pre-positioned in the area,  Russia deployed  additional 3,000 troops, 300 tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, ground attack fighter jets, transport and attack helicopters, and other weaponry. The Russian strongman’s answer to President Biden’s naïve pleas to “de-escalate” the crisis in Ukraine is to keep messing with the Americans’ heads (morochit golovu).On Sunday, after the high-level US-Russia meetings kicked off with a two-hour working dinner in Geneva, Foreign Deputy Minister Ryabkov characterized his rendezvous with US counterpart Wendy Sherman as “fantastic.” On Monday, Ryabkov’s tone changed sharply, following an eight-hour session. “We are sick and tired of empty talks, half-promises. We don’t trust the other side. We must have “ironclad, legally-binding guarantees” that Ukraine and Georgia will “never become members of NATO.”This was not a change of heart by Ryabkov. Putin’s minion was employing his judo practitioner boss’s favored tactic of keeping your enemy off-balance. Putin believes that by keeping the West on edge as he decides on the best approach to prevent former Soviet states like Ukraine from joining NATO, Russia can achieve tactical surprise when it is ready to take action. Putin’s marching orders to the Russian delegation was “not to bend under pressure from Washington” – any “concessions are absolutely out of the question.” “The specific issue at hand must be resolved on Russia’s terms.”Neither side expected any breakthroughs going into the meetings in Europe. Although the agenda ostensibly centered around f …

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