A Ukrainian oligarch may have convinced Putin that President Petro Poroshenko's peace plan is 'an important step towards reaching a final settlement' in the east.
Russia's state gas company delayed its threatened suspension of shipments to Ukraine today, even as the Kremlin appeared to ramp up its backing of rebellious eastern Ukraine.
Russia denies mass border crossings are taking place, although separatist leaders of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic now freely admit their ragtag army has many foreigners, including some from the Russian province of Chechnya.
Russian forces rely on Ukrainian engines, weapons, and aircraft – and Kiev, fearing invasion, is considering pulling the plug on its supplies.
Alarmed by events in Ukraine, Russia's parliament is drafting laws that will let police come down harder and faster on any activities or speech they deem defiant.
Pro-Russian demonstrators seized several buildings in Donetsk, Luhansk, and Kharkiv over the weekend and called for Crimean-style referendums on eastern Ukraine's future.
Though they helped topple President Yanukovych, groups like Right Sector are now providing fodder for Russia's position that Kiev has been taken over by 'fascists,' some say.
Some fear Estonia's Russian-speaking minority could try to follow Crimea's path. But many see the grass as greener in Estonia.
But while the Russian Army's latest showing was far better than its blundering in Georgia in 2008, Crimea offered advantages that the Kremlin is unlikely to see elsewhere.
NATO's supreme allied commander in Europe warns that Russia could 'accomplish its objectives in between 3 and 5 days' if ordered.