With Russian lawmakers having authorized Putin to use military force outside the country and Ukraine surrounded on three sides by more than 150,000 troops, the rumble of tanks did not appear far off Wednesday.
The U.S. and key European allies accused Moscow of having already crossed a red line by formalizing a Russian military deployment to regions of eastern Ukraine controlled by Russia-backed separatists. Ukrainian authorities, after weeks of trying to project calm, signaled increasing concern.
Here are the things to know about the conflict over Ukraine and the security crisis in Eastern Europe:
PUTIN HONORS FALLEN SOLDIERS IN MOSCOW
Russia marked Defender of the Fatherland Day, a holiday high in national symbolism. On the edge of Moscow’s Red Square, soldiers put red carnations on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier while Putin honored the memory of the ones who died in past wars.
Putin whipped up Russian nationalism on Monday with a fiery speech indicating that Ukraine historically had no cause for being. He said during Wednesday’s commemoration that Russia would continue to strengthen and modernize its army and navy, “striving to increase their effectiveness, so they are fitted out with the most cutting-edge equipment.”
The head of the rebel government in Donetsk, one of the separatist held areas of eastern Ukraine known as Donbas, issued a statement…