Vladimir Putin's regime continues to play head games with its hostage.
After reportedly indicating that a deal had been reached to release kidnapped Ukrainian military pilot Nadia Savchenko and that she could be returned home within weeks, the Russian authorities are now saying the process can take up to a year.
Sure it will. There must be a lot of paperwork to process.
Russia's Federal Penitentiary Service, meanwhile, has thrown more sand in the gears by saying that Savchenko can only be returned to Ukraine if Kyiv pledges to make her serve her 22-year prison sentence there.
That, of course, is something the Ukrainian authorities could never agree to publicly.
And Moscow added insult to injury last week when it temporarily prevented Savchenko's sister Vira from leaving the country on the flimsy pretext that she had committed a crime when she referred to a Russian judge as a "shmuck."
Nadia Savchenko, meanwhile, has threatened to resume her dry hunger strike if she is not released soon.
Just weeks ago, Moscow seemed to be finally moving to end this whole disgusting charade and release its hostage.
Now there is no end in sight. Which, sadly, isn't surprising.
Virtually everything Russia has said about Savchenko from Day 1 has been a lie. Why should they stop now?
The case against her is a pure and transparent fabrication -- and everybody knows this.
She was kidnapped and she is a hostage, pure and simple.
It isn't clear whether Moscow is trying to save face, whether it is stalling in hopes of getting a better deal in exchange for its hostage, or whether it doesn't plan to release her at all and is simply playing cruel mind games.
Whatever the case, the Kremlin's behavior is criminal.