Russian President: Vladimir Putin.
The question has to be asked, what is Putin up to? Is he sitting in Moscow, playing with the Ukrainians and NATO, as a cat, plays with a ball of wool? There certainly are, either rightly or wrongly, politicians in the West running around trying to work out what the Russian President is doing?
Before Christmas, when Russian troops started gathering on the Ukrainian border, there have been rumours of a potential Russian invasion. Would the invasion, be a full one that Russia would undertake or would it be a limited one? It is understandable, when Russian troops, amounting to 100,000 gather on one's border that people would ask, "What's going on"?
Second-guessing Vladimir Putin, it seems, has become like a game of chess, something the Russians are good at. Joe Biden, Boris Johnson, Emmanual Macron, etc, have all gone around second-guessing the intentions of the Russian leader. It is possible, Putin is getting a kick out of this, just tweaking America's and NATO's tail.
Putin may not intend to invade at all, he may just be making that he could if he wanted to. He just is making the point, that he could if he so chose, invade and capture Ukraine as he did in Crimea, (once part of Ukraine).
Another reason, why Putin may be delaying any military invasion, is because he knows any more sanctions on the Russian economy could send it into free fall. Russia now is under sanction because of its invasion of Crimea and its backing of Russian separatists, battling Ukrainian armed forces. Although, Mr Putin, has wide support at home, there are many now who want an alternaitve to the long, authoritarian rule of Mr Putin. There doesnt appear, much support in Russia, for a war with Ukraine or indeed, a wider war with the West. Perhaps only Russian facists or die-hard Putin supporters, would support such a conflagration.
Ben Wallace, British Defence Secretary, says he thinks no decision to invade has been made yet. Yet as the same time, Mr Wallace has advised British people in Ukraine to follow government guide lines about leaving Ukraine. Also, advising any UK citizens traveling to the country to avoid going there is possible. Certainly, when a country is going to be invaded as in Kuwait before Iraq went in, Western people were advised to leave.
Russia has said it is pulling back some troops and equipment from the Ukrainian border. However, Joe Biden, has called into doubt the Kremlins declaration of pulling back. Biden has been blunt in his assertion to Mr Putin, that Russia, "should step back from the brink of war". Russia itself, has told NATO defence ministers, that it is still willing to negotiate.
Russia from it's point of view, probably does feel threatened. Ever since the fall of the Soviet Union, NATO has been expanding ever eastwards. Taking in the former Soviet states in Eastern Europe, under Moscow's realm. The Batlic states of Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia, became NATO members. And now, with Ukraine becoming a potential member of NATO, Russia is obviously saying, "Enough is enough". Russia has said its demands about its security, is being ignored and not taken into account by NATO. This is the reason, why Russia, currently has 100,000 troops on the Ukrainian border. This is why Russia has troops in nearby Belarusia, on alleged excercise with Belarussian troops, whose President, is a friend of Putin.
One thing is sure though, as Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace has stated the Ukranians will fight, even though it may be one-sided against Russian military might. The West has been flying in military hardware and has been training Ukrainian armed forces. The Russians will not have it easy, and even if they were to capture, the whole of Ukraine, they would face a resistance. This would prove costly for Russia as an occupier, as Russia has found out in Afghanistan, in Chechnya, etc. Would Putin, want to face more harsher, more crippling sanctions on his already failing economy? Would he want to risk, further military conflict, with the West?
For all the second, even third guessing of Mr Putin by politicians and media pundits, only Putin and him alone, knows what he is doing or does he?