“In accordance with an order from the president of the Russian Federation, forces of the Western Military District were put on alert at 1400 (0500 ET) today.”
The Washington Post mentioned that troops from the Central Military District and naval units would also participate in the exercise. Units from South Military District, which are closest to pro-Russian Crimea, would not be involved.
President Putin assured everyone that the exercise was not aimed at Ukraine and that Russia would not interfere *militarily* in Ukraine’s internal affairs. No doubt, everyone breathed a sigh of relief. Meanwhile, PravdaTV asked: “Will Russia Take Crimean Peninsula Back From Ukraine?”
The meeting of NATO Defense Ministers soon issued a statement as well:
“Consistent with the Charter on a Distinctive Partnership between NATO and Ukraine, NATO Allies will continue to support Ukrainian sovereignty and independence, territorial integrity, democratic development, and the principle of inviolability of frontiers, as key factors of stability and security in Central and Eastern Europe and on the continent as a whole.”  (emphasis added)
Everyone might have breathed a sigh of relief if Western European defense expenditures weren’t so laughable.
Source: “Background paper on SIPRI military expenditure data”, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute”, 11 April 2010
Meanwhile, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel was explaining how, in such a safe world, we were rolling the Army back to 1940 levels as well as eliminating the whole fleet A-10 Thunderbolt II strike fighters from Air Force inventories, with nothing available anytime soon to replace them.
Probably the only one breathing a sigh of relief – and smiling in delight – is Vladimir Putin.
Sources and Notes:
 Steve Gutterman, “Putin puts troops in western Russia on alert in drill,” Reuters, 26 February 2014
 Will Englund, “Crimean city offers refuge to Ukrainian police; Russia launches military exercises,” The Washington Post, 26 February 2014
“Will Russia Take Crimean Peninsula Back From Ukraine?”, PravdaTV, 26 February 2014
“Statement by NATO Defence Ministers on Ukraine,” NATO Newsroom, 26 February 2014
 Thom Shanker and Helene Cooper, “Pentagon Plans to Shrink Army to Pre-World War II Level,” The New York Times, 23 February 2014