The rhetoric from Russia continues to ease up a bit: "We have absolutely no intention of—or interest in—crossing Ukraine's borders," Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Russian TV, reports the BBC. He spoke a day before a scheduled meeting with John Kerry about defusing tensions between Moscow and the West. Lavrov, however, said Russia reserved the right to protect Russians or Russian supporters, and thousands of troops remain massed at the border.
"We view it as a concrete threat to Ukraine and see the potential for further interventions," NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said of those troops, reports Reuters. Referring to Vladimir Putin, he added, "I am worried that we are not dealing with rational thinking as much as with emotions, the yearning to rebuild Russia's old sphere of influence in its immediate neighborhood." As for tomorrow's meeting between envoys, the New York Times notes that it's not clear whether Putin is serious about making concessions or was merely "seeking a diplomatic advantage at a time when he has been isolated internationally."