The swiftly terminated rebel attack on Maryinka was probably meant to be Putin’s “warning shot” to the Western leaders. But he only succeeded in reminding them about the near certainty (rather than risk) of a summer spasm in the “hybrid war.” While the Russian battalions concentrated in the war zone appear far from eager to go into battle, the assorted war-bands of local thugs and Russian “volunteers” of invariably aggressive persuasions have nothing else to do but to resume fighting. It seems Putin’s support base is eager to cheer for new victories but absolutely not ready to keep waiting for them while experiencing Russian-style austerity, even if it is explained away as caused by the economic “aggression” of the hostile West. Every picture from the top-level schmoozing in the Bavarian Alps presumably reminds Putin that there is no way back for him, and every opinion poll tells him that the time for the next strike is now, before his loyal subjects tire of the chronic deadlock. There is really no point in waiting for the European Council meeting in late June, where the sanctions are certain to be prolonged; but it is quite tempting for Moscow to try to reshape its agenda.
The rest of the article is in Eurasia Daily Monitor, June 8.