Has the Kremlin finally decided to stop denying that its military is fighting in eastern Ukraine?
Is Moscow finally abandoning the fiction that the war in the Donbas is a Ukrainian civil war and not a Russian invasion?
Recent remarks by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov suggest this may be the case.
According to Russian and Ukrainian press reports, on June 30 Lavrov said the following:
"I have read and heard much criticism regarding our decision to join the fight in Donbas and in Syria."
Lavrov added that Moscow intervened in Ukraine to "protect the Russian-speaking population."
Now we have seen this movie before.
The Kremlin initially denied that its troops had intervened in Crimea, only to have Vladimir Putin himself later admit it -- and brag about it -- on television.
And given the fact that Ukraine has recently captured and exposed several Russian soldiers fighting in the Donbas, the fiction of Russian noninvolvement is becoming increasingly impossible to maintain.
Now this is particularly relevant given last week's agreement between Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and French President Emmanuel Macron to comprehensively implement the Minsk peace deal in Ukraine.
But in doing so, it is probably well past time for everybody to once and for all abandon another fiction: the one where everybody pretends that Russia is a mediator in the war in the Donbas and not a combatant.