The mystery of the convoy deepens. This morning (ET), it was widely reported that many of the white Russian trucks were virtually empty. So apparently the humanitarian aid was to consist of stale air.
Last night (ET-morning in Ukraine), several journalists witnessed a column of Russian armor entering Ukraine. Nato and some western governments confirmed that this had in fact taken place. Around 11 ET, Ukraine released a synopsis of a call between Poroshenko and UK PM Cameron, in which the Ukrainian president claimed that Ukrainian artillery had destroyed most of the invading column. Russia vociferously denied this. Russia also claimed that Ukrainians were attacking the route of the convoy. But it did not claim that the convoy itself was attacked. So what were the Ukrainians shelling on this route if the convoy and the armor weren’t there? And how would the Russians know about this shelling inside Ukrainian territory.
The murk just keeps getting murkier.
The most plausible hypothesis is that the the convoy is part of an elaborate deception operation to distract attention, create a potential incident that would create a pretext for a Russian invasion, and/or to provide cover behind which a Russian force could assemble and then mount an attack into Ukraine.
Western leaders have desperately been offering Putin “off-ramps.” Putin only concludes from this that Western nations will do nothing to stop him. It is the West that wants the way out, not Putin.
Or, to put it another way, Putin has indeed taken an off-ramp. The problem is that it is the Donbas/Novorossiya Exit, and he isn’t going for a pit stop.