Ukraine Halts Military Push, Fearing Attack From Russia

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from The Wall Street Journal,

Moscow’s Saber-Rattling Leaves Kiev in Quandary; U.S. Unsure of Putin’s Intent.

Ukrainian forces moved in on a pro-Russian stronghold Thursday, killing several militants in a firefight at a roadside checkpoint, but quickly halted their advance after Russia activated the thousands of troops it has massed just across the border.

Moscow’s saber-rattling—launching new land and air military drills—left Ukraine’s new government in a quandary: whether to risk pressing ahead with what it calls its antiterrorist operation in the restive east, or risk more bloodshed and provoking an invasion. (Read the latest updates.)

Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov, who had ordered the military operation to restart on Tuesday, vowed it would continue even as a security official in Kiev said the operation in the eastern city of Slovyansk had been paused for reworking. Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry gave Moscow 48 hours to explain the military exercises along the border.

The Pentagon called those drills “exactly the opposite of what we have been calling on the Russians to do.”

U.S. officials said they didn’t know if the drills meant Russian President Vladimir Putin intends to intervene militarily in Ukraine. Some officials said they think it is a show of strength to reinforce his position before moving to reduce tensions and solidify his gains.

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