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The Daily Vertical: Back To The Ukraine Front (Transcript)

All eyes may be on Russia's pullout in Syria.

But we should also be paying close attention to the Kremlin's next moves in Ukraine.

This is true because Syria and Ukraine are two fronts in one war that Moscow is fighting with the West -- and deescalation on one front has tended to mean escalation on the other.

This is true because the Kremlin is clearly hoping to leverage its success in Syria with a win in Ukraine as well.

This is true because Moscow thinks it has found a template in Syria to return to great power status.

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This is true because Western resolve to keep sanctions in place appears to be weakening.

And this is true because Ukraine fatigue appears to be rising in Western capitals.

The Kremlin probably senses an opening in Ukraine -- and we should expect them to exploit it.

In a televised interview this past weekend, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov appeared to telegraph the pivot when he called on the United States to pressure Kyiv to implement the Minsk agreement -- presumably on Moscow's terms.

Russia will try to leverage the momentum from its Syrian gambit to get a final settlement in Ukraine that preserves Moscow's influence in the Donbas and gives it a virtual veto over Kyiv's political direction.

It will try to coax the West into forgetting about Crimea, lifting sanctions, and getting on with business as usual.

And if that doesn't work, well then the military card is always on the table.

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