Signposts all point in same gloomy direction in Ukraine

A Ukrainian soldier stands guard near the Kramatorsk airport in eastern Ukraine. Photo: Reuters

The build up of troops, the escalating tension and the searing rhetoric - the signposts all point in the same gloomy direction.

If not war, then it is getting harder to see how the Ukraine crisis can end well.

A week on from the Geneva peace accord we are instead much closer to a full blown conflict.

On the face of it it's hard to understand why Moscow signed a deal that should have seen pro Russian separatists disarm and disband if, in the words of John Kerry, it is still "playing an active role in destabilising eastern Ukraine with personnel, weapons, money and operational planning".

But there again if is getting harder to understand Moscow's end game.

The Kremlin's immediate aim is to disrupt next month's Presidential elections: to stop the election of an Ukranian government with a countrywide democratic mandate.

But there after? An invasion and annexation seems too high risk a venture even for Vladamir Putin.

More likely he wants a permanently weakened and divided neighbour he can dominate but not rule directly.

But to achieve this there is a risky game of brinkmanship to play. The danger is sooner or later someone will slip over the edge.

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