Secretary of State John Kerry used the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland as a platform to announce that relations between Russia and the West may be warming up.
Kerry stated that sanctions against Russia could be completely lifted with the next few months, which suggests that perhaps Russia has agreed to trade East Ukraine in exchange for this economic relief.
Russia may be desperate to save a plummeting economy that has been deeply impacted by the fall in oil prices and Western sanctions. It was recently reported that the Russian economy saw its steepest decline in GDP, 3,7%, since 2009.
Many analysts are suggesting that Russia has decided to abandon the conflict in Eastern Ukraine in favor of pursuing the war on terrorism in the Middle East. It seems to be more favorable to Russia to keep their influence in Syria, support the Assad regime and try to join forces with Iran than it would be to continue in the Ukraine.
There are fears that after the sanctions are lifted and the economy has bounced back, Putin will chose to covertly continue its operations in the Ukraine without drawing attention to it, since it would be easy for him to send security forces over the border.