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Trying to Make Sense of the Russian (Maybe) Pivot

TOPSHOT - Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with members of the Russian government via teleconference in Moscow on March 10, 2022. - Russia announced an export ban on more than 200 types of foreign-ma... TOPSHOT - Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with members of the Russian government via teleconference in Moscow on March 10, 2022. - Russia announced an export ban on more than 200 types of foreign-made products and equipment until the end of the year, part of Moscow's response to sanctions imposed over the Ukraine conflict on March 10. (Photo by Mikhail KLIMENTYEV / SPUTNIK / AFP) (Photo by MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images) MORE LESS
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March 25, 2022 4:40 p.m.

From what I can tell, the more serious-minded military analysts and Ukraine experts are this afternoon trying to make sense of just what this afternoon’s Russian military briefing means. Is this just chatter along the lines of claims of a soon to be announced ceasefire or is this really the signal that the Russian leadership is looking for an offramp from this strategic catastrophe entirely of its own making? I don’t think anyone quite knows what to make of it yet. The claims of ‘this is what we meant to do all along’ are absurd on their face. And yet, they’re the most plausible and possibly even the most predictable path to a face-saving exit. In fact, we shouldn’t have to wait long to find out. If this signals a true pivot in Russian policy and war aims we should see movements on the ground in fairly short order.

But one really has to question whether this pivot is even possible. And by possible I mean is it in any way a plausible path to the end of the conflict on any terms?

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