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Outwardly the story of the "Ukrainian terrorist attacks" in the Crimea is very similar to such provocations as the famous Gleiwitz incident, which served as a pretext for Nazi Germany to unleash a war against Poland or Shelling of Mainilawhich became the formal reason for the beginning of the Russo-Finnish War.
But Putin is not Hitler or Stalin; he’s just a small St. Petersburg's punk. In Crimea, a cheap provocation was made indeed, but the Russian president is not capable to conduct the large-scale military operation.
Firstly, he has not enough military forces for that, especially considering that the Ukrainian army is much better prepared for an attack, rather than two years ago. Secondly, the large-scale attack drags along great losses among Russian servicemen, which is totally unacceptable for the Russian society. Even information about the relatively small loss of Russian soldiers in 2014-2015 was strictly confidential. Moreover, Putin certainly understands that the reaction of the West will be tough enough: sanctions will intensify, for Barack Obama it will be harder to resist the idea of granting Ukraine a lethal weapon. In other words, a large-scale military operation in Ukraine - it is self-destructive solution for Putin.
So why did he start provocations in Crimea? The answer lies in the statements that followed the Russian Federal Security Service publication of accusations towards Ukraine. Putin said that after messages about preventing "terrorist attacks in Crimea" he considers pointless meeting in Norman format. In fact, he refuses to fulfill Minsk agreements. This is quite an interesting turn of events. Minsk agreements were the main strategy of the Kremlin: to impose Ukraine the illusion of restoration of territorial integrity, by pushing the DPR / LPR as parts of the country and thereby block its development.
It seems that Putin's recent steps taken by some despair. Perhaps one reason is the failure of the campaign of Donald Trump, which is almost exposed in America as Putin's "poodle." Moscow had very high expectations of him. All that Trump said concerning the foreign policy - is the realization of the most cherished dreams of the Kremlin’s leader. Moreover, the Russian president may have realized that Kyiv does not give in to pressure from France and Germany on the part of the Minsk agreements and the result which he expected for- the change of the Constitution and the federalization of Ukraine - is not obtained. Accordingly, Putin is trying to shift the responsibility for the failure of Minsk on the Ukrainian "terrorists."
However, this action is unlikely to be crowned with great success. The US State Department has said that the statements of Russia aimed at diversion of attention from the main problem - Russia's desire to annex the Crimea and its aggressive actions in eastern Ukraine.
Although, I do not expect the large-scale military operation from Russia, but some kind of a PR campaign on the eve of elections to the State Duma, for sure, will follow. All have forgotten, that yet in 2014, Putin announced the arrest of 24 Ukrainian "terrorists" in nine regions of Russia. Some workers were arrested and later released. Over the next month we will hear something like that.