If Russian military exercises on the Ukrainian border, combined with jingoistic rhetoric from the Russian parliament, weren't enough to worry about, RuNet bloggers are happy to help!
On April 25, 2014, Aleksandr Sokoloff, who runs a popular military blog on LiveJournal, published a post [ru] in which he called attention to photographs taken at a recent Russian Ministry of Defense meeting. This was the meeting where Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced the start of the war games which are making everyone so nervous. Sokoloff wrote that these photos made him, a “seasoned” person, “flinch.”
Specifically, he was referring to photos of a 78 year old man in military uniform, Vladimir Lobov, a general who was the last Soviet military Chief of Staff, and who according to Sokoloff retired in 1994. In his position as Chief of Staff, wrote Sokoloff, Lobov was in charge of devising strategies for invasion of Europe, especially ones using large numbers of tanks. Lobov was also responsible for the oversight of the 1981 Soviet war-games, one of the largest in history.
Sokoloff's conclusion at seeing Lobov in uniform at a Ministry of Defense meeting was that the man had come out retirement, which can only mean one thing:
Российская Федерация действительно серьёзно готовится к полномасштабной войне и это последний намёк Западу, что в случае необратимого развития событий речь может пойти не о расчленении Украины по Днепру, а о расчленении Европы по Ла-Маншу.
The Russian Federation is really very seriously preparing for full-scale war, and this is the last hint to the West that if the events continue to develop the way they do, the end goal might not just be splitting Ukraine at the Dnieper, but splitting Europe at the English Channel.
Sokoloff's post gathered over 1,000 comments in the space of a day, most of them with varying levels of belief and incredulity. It also spread through VKontakte and Facebook, reposted [ru] there by publications like the nationalist Sputnik & Pogrom.
Later, Marina Yudenich, a writer with ties to the Kremlin and a popular pro-government blogger, tried to reassure [ru] her readers. Poking fun at armchair experts like Sokoloff, she claimed that while Lobov officially retired from the military 20 years ago, he has stayed on as a “leading analyst” at Russian Defense Ministry's “Inspector General's” office. As such, he is present at all large Ministry of Defense meetings, and, as it happens, is always in uniform.
If we take Yudenich's claims of this inside information at face value, perhaps full-scale war is a bit further from reality than paranoid bloggers would like their readers to believe.