All eyes on Putin as tensions with Ukraine, West remain high ahead of his state-of-the-nation address
MARK MACKINNON, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT
But no one outside the Kremlin can profess to know what Mr. Putin will say until he starts to speak.
“It’s very difficult to predict. There could be some surprises, or it might really be nothing,” said Tatiana Stanovaya, a non-resident scholar at the Carnegie Moscow Centre. “We don’t know what happens in the head of Putin.”
One of the surprises, Ms. Stanovaya suspects, may be the deployment of more Russian troops into the Donbass region of Ukraine, part of which is currently under the control of Kremlin-backed separatists. While Ukraine would see such a move as an expanded invasion, Mr. Putin might claim the troops are needed as “peacekeepers” after a surge in fighting this year between the Ukrainian army and the separatist fighters.