Some people thought Putin was backing down when he said he would do what he could to discourage an independence referendum for Eastern Ukraine. I strongly suspected this was like Arab or Chinese negotiating — make a show of agreeing or acquiescing to Western demands, all the while knowing that it’s going to happen anyway.
The Eastern Ukrainians are not under Putin’s control. They’d love his official support, but they’ll do without it. The GRU is helping them out pretty good, going up against Blackwater and Jihadis on the Maidan side.
So Eastern Ukraine is proceeding with their independence vote, and then there will be a Civil War to enforce it and kick out the Maidan putschists. Maidan will probably go great guns against them and kill a lot of them, and then Russia will be drawn in and things get really ugly.
On the radio I heard that Putin claimed to be withdrawing the Russian army from the borders of Ukraine, but State Department social media diplomacy girl Jen Psaki says that the satellite intelligence is showing that they are not actually withdrawing. She’s very angry about this! It’s like when her boyfriend said he was going to call her but didn’t. Again, Eastern style diplomacy — say one thing, but do what you wanted to do in the first place.