A brief note on the situation in the Ukraine. It has taken about 60 to 90 days longer than I had anticipated for things in the simmering Ukraine conflict to reach this stage. I was expecting something along the lines of last week's, ill-fated, Ukrainian naval expedition in the Kerch Strait, and even more, maybe in August or September, within several weeks of the World Cup. Though nothing major happened then, the events of recent days are truly serious, and are capable of sparking off more and bigger trouble.
To be sure, the Minsk Agreement would appear to effectively be a dead letter at this point. It's not Lazarus; it is not likely to be resurrected in any meaningful way. Events are moving beyond that now.
If it comes to a shooting war with the outgunned regime in Kiev, the Russians may decide to militarily secure their southwestern flank and take the territory roughly from Kharkiv to Transniestria, including Odessa and the region immediately to the southwest of Odessa. That swath of territory is the most ethnically Russian region of Ukraine.
Russia would thus militarily secure and consolidate control of the northern shore of the Black Sea, by denying it to the rogue regime in Kiev. It would also strengthen the defense of the Crimea, by incorporating the region to its north and west into the Russian Federation.
If the Ukraine sends military forces against the Russian border, the Kremlin will certainly respond with crushing military force, and may well take the fight across the border.
The USSA is clearly egging the Ukrainians on, so who knows what may possibly happen next. If there is a greater conflict and NATO enters the fray militarily on the side of the Ukraine, then all bets are off and anything might occur.