ALMOST three months have passed since Russia annexed Crimea and began stirring up rebellion in eastern Ukraine. For most of that period the hope of Western leaders has been that tensions there will gradually dissipate and that the crisis will just go away. That hope now looks deluded.
The argument was that Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, had got most of what he wanted in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, not least a big boost in popularity at home. Partly thanks to two rounds of sanctions against individuals close to him, he had blinked: hence his decision to pull troops back from the border and more or less to accept Petro Poroshenko as Ukraine’s legitimate president after his election on May 25th. Thus there is no need for further sanctions that could wreak damage on Europe’s shaky economies as well as on Russia.