So by now the holes in Russia's story about an alleged Ukrainian terror plot in Crimea are big enough to drive a truck through.
Nobody who has seriously looked at the evidence actually believes this tall tale. And yet, the Kremlin is sticking to its story and showing no signs of relenting.
Well, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov gave us a big hint during talks yesterday with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
Lavrov said, and I'm quoting directly here: "There was a sabotage operation, planned by Ukraine’s intelligence services, which had the aim of destabilizing the situation in the Russian region of Crimea.
"Regardless of how our Western partners choose to work with our friends in Kyiv, we are taking comprehensive measures so that any future attempts at hostile incursions into our territory are nipped in the bud."
Now, the operative words here, of course, were "the Russian region of Crimea" and "our territory."
By manufacturing this crisis, Vladimir Putin's regime has given itself the opportunity to continuously talk in international forums about Crimea like it is legally part of Russia, to accuse Ukraine of destabilizing it, and to demand the West do something about it.
They're framing the debate and challenging the West to contradict them.
They're trying to make everybody forget -- or conveniently overlook -- that Russia illegally and forcefully annexed Crimea from Ukraine.
It's the functional equivalent of a car thief calling the police to accuse the rightful owner of trying to take their car back.
It's a con job, and it's working.
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