Media hysteria, fueled by US hawks and Ukrainian ultranationalists, had forwarded the narrative that the Russian invasion was imminent, with claims of a military buildup of historic proportions, and Ukrainian officials claiming at times as many as 100,000 Russian troops waiting to roll into Donetsk.
The portrait of the Russian military as a Lord of the Rings-style army of evil, bloodthirsty troops just waiting for marching orders, took a major blow when NBC took the unusual step of actually going to the border and looking around.
What they saw was a calm border, with no signs of a serious military build-up, and by contrast exactly what Russia had said, evidence of a training exercise going on on the Russian side. Some troops, some heavy trucks, but no tanks or artillery.
It wasn’t lost on the Russian troops there, who expressed concern that Ukraine has all their (mostly obsolete) tanks deployed right at the border, and were worried that Ukraine’s Right Sector could commandeer a few tanks and take out a lot of Russian troops, since the trucks aren’t exactly up to fighting tanks, even the T-64s that make up the bulk of Ukraine’s force.
Russian President Putin, apparently sick of hearing about an invasion that’s not going to happen, also announced redeployment today of a lot of the troops involved in the training exercises.