Russia Totally Isn't Sending Troops Into Ukraine: President Vladmir Putin says the insurgents taking over government buildings in Eastern Ukraine—some of whom speak Russian, don't know their way around the Ukrainian cities they're in, and have identified themselves as Russian military—were not installed by Russia. “This is nonsense, there are no Russian troops in the east of Ukraine,” Putin insists. (Background for those new to all this: After the revolt in Ukraine, Russia seized the semi-autonomous state of Crimea and now Russia and its armed loyalists want lots of Eastern Ukraine to defect.) "All the people that are in the eastern Ukraine are local residents, and the main proof is that they've taken their masks off—literally. It's their home, and they have nowhere to leave to."
President Obama Responds: That is categorically bullshit:
Violent Retaliation: "Ukrainian security forces killed three pro-Russian activists, wounded 13 and took 63 captive in a firefight overnight in the eastern city of Mariupol, the interim Ukrainian interior minister said on Thursday," the NYT reports. "The clash was the most lethal so far in the east of the country." (Sadly, this sort of violence is exactly the evidence Putin was hoping for to legitimize a full-scale occupation.)
Russia Is Feeling the Pinch, Apparently: The New York Times reports today that, despite soaring polling numbers for Putin, the country is stagnating. International sanctions will soon hit, but even before that, inflation is rising and economic growth is slowing.