“The United States and Russia dug in their heels Wednesday over Russia’s military buildup on Ukraine’s border with no sign either will relent from entrenched positions that have raised fears of a Russian invasion and a new war in Europe.” With U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov set to meet on Friday, the two sides seem no closer to a deal.

+ “Few people have studied Putin as long or as obsessively as Alexei Navalny. In his letters, he tries to explain what motivates the Russian President, and what Putin fears. It is not what he claims to be concerned about: the deployment of U.S. forces in Eastern Europe, or the chance that Ukraine might one day join the NATO alliance. ‘Instead of ignoring this nonsense,’ Navalny writes, ‘the U.S. accepts Putin’s agenda and runs to organize some meetings. Just like a frightened schoolboy who’s been bullied by an upperclassman.’ … Rather than convening talks or offering concessions, Navalny wants the U.S. to pressure the Kremlin from without while Navalny and his supporters pressure it from within. The combination, he believes, will split the elites around Putin, ushering in what Navalny’s followers like to call ‘the beautiful Russia of the future,’ one that is free, democratic, at peace with its neighbors and the West.” Time: The Man Putin Fears, and how he thinks the West should react to his threats. (Sensing a trend today? There are a lot of people around the world who fear democracy.)