Amid all the fear and guesswork this month over the possibility that President Vladimir Putin could soon order an attack on Ukraine, one man has been conspicuously silent: Putin.

In November and December, Putin spoke out about Ukraine repeatedly, pairing Russia’s ominous military buildup with threatening rhetoric. At an end-of-the-year news conference Dec. 23, Putin warned that Russia needed “guarantees” that Ukraine would never join the NATO alliance “right away, right now.”

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