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NATO's onto Russia's Games

NATO is definitely onto Russia's games. And NATO's chief, Anders Fogh Rasmussen must be credited with having an understanding of the ploys, games, talks and confusing modus operandi of the Russians. Against a backdrop of fresh Russian agitations within Ukraine, Rasmussen told a press conference in Prague this morning that Russia must pull back its troops from the Ukrainian border as a first step to start dialogue over the crisis there. Counting that some 40,000 Russian troops were amassed along Ukraine's borders "not training but ready for combat", Rasmussen, as reported by Reuters, warned that any further military action by Russia would lead to grave consequences and severe economic sanctions. He said: "From Prague, I have this message to Russia: You have a choice to stop blaming others for your own actions, to stop massing your troops, to stop escalating this crisis and start engaging in genuine dialogue." He explained the evidence: " We have seen the satellite images day after day. Russia is stirring up ethnic tensions in eastern Ukraine and provoking unrest. And Russia is using its military might to dictate that Ukraine should become a federal, neutral state. That is a decision which only Ukraine as a sovereign state can make." Rasmussen is on point. Putin and his cohorts continue to sit in the Kremlin and to devise ways to confuse the entire peace and stability process. Sensing that the west is war-weary from the Iraq and Afghanistan theaters, Putin has kept up his menacing antics aimed at Eastern and Central Europe. But the patient President Obama, and other western leaders, have  rightly reasoned that the security of a free Europe is best defended under the umbrella of NATO. Thus, Putin now sees and recognizes the strength of NATO - the alliance, not just the US - the easy source of blame by Putin for his ills. Putin is faced with NATO - an organization capable of assembling forces seasoned and unseasoned from multiple sources. NATO is European, it is western, it is in Putin's backyard and not on the other side of the Atlantic; so Putin will over the next couple of days stall for time in negotiations with Ukraine because his original menacing campaign did not take into account a serious NATO nor a tough, smart secretary general, Rasmussen, who sees into Putin's soul.