So apparently it's not just Russia's military that's preparing for a war.
In addition to this week's snap military exercises, Vladimir Putin has also ordered inspections of the Central Bank as well as the ministries of finance, communications, trade, and industry to test their capacity to operate in the event of a large-scale armed conflict.
Now there are two possibilities here.
Either the Kremlin is indeed gearing up for an all-out war and is telegraphing its intent as loudly as possible, shouting it from the rooftops and completely depriving itself of the element of surprise in the process.
Or the Putin regime wants everybody to believe it's gearing up for an all-out war.
A year ago, on the eve of the UN General Assembly, Putin used Russia's military buildup and ultimate armed intervention in Syria to ease Moscow's international isolation.
And now, on the eve of the G20 summit in China, he appears to be using the implicit threat of invading Ukraine to bully the West into easing sanctions and extract concessions in a postconflict settlement.
It sure looks like a psy-op.
Putin is playing war games. But he is also playing head games.
But that doesn't necessarily mean the Kremlin won't follow through on the threat if it gets desperate enough.
And therein lies the dilemma.
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