The United States now sees the Ukrainian rebels as a Russian force.
American officials briefed on intelligence from the region say Russia has significantly deepened its command and control of the militants in eastern Ukraine in recent months, leading the U.S. to quietly introduce a new term: "combined Russian-separatist forces."
The Russians have always been good about creating faux rebels to be the front of their aggression.
Perhaps I shouldn't be annoyed that it has taken 14 months for the administration to admit that Russia is directing the war against Ukraine as much as I should be grateful that reality can penetrate their bubble at all.
UPDATE: I'm not sure why we need that fancy term when "hand puppets" works for describing accurately those Russian-controlled rebels.
And our NATO commander say that Russian actions are consistent with a renewed offensive:
"Russian forces used the opportunities presented by the recent lull in fighting to reset and reposition while protecting their gains," he said. "Many of their actions are consistent with preparations for another offensive."
File that information in the same category.
UPDATE: If factoring in Russia's timing for their waves of new draftees still matters, Russia would want to attack by mid-May to avoid losing troops at the end of their enlistment period and having lots of new untrained soldiers in the ranks.
Of course, if Russia just picks the best parts of units from across Russia as they have for the last year, as I noted in an update in this post, perhaps this limitation really only applies to major wars that need most of Russia's ground units in big formations.