Russia is gearing up for war again, local experts, state media propagandists, and government officials are all saying. 

“Everything will start in Ukraine,” predicted Andrey Sidorov, deputy dean of world politics at Moscow State University, appearing on Sunday Evening With Vladimir Soloviev. “We will be forced to step onto the battlefield in a fight for which they think we’re not ready,” he added. The host asked: “A fight against whom?” and Sidorov clarified: “Against the collective West.” Rather than to risk Putin’s eternal presidency, Soloviev suggested that the fight over Ukraine’s Donbas will end in a “nuclear conflict” between Russia and NATO.

The fear-mongering propagated by Russian state media aims to prepare the population for the consequences of the Kremlin’s actions, while preemptively placing most of the blame upon the United States. Russian experts fear that to make Russia pay for its election interference, hacking and other malign activities, the Biden administration might declare Russian President Vladimir Putin a “persona non grata,” and impose a total trade embargo upon Russia.

Seeking plausible deniability in an attempt to avoid the harshest U.S. sanctions, the Kremlin will most likely continue to fight the war against Ukraine via proxies. When the time comes, pro-Russian forces will stage a provocation and step in to “defend” Russian citizens from the Ukrainian government.

Under Biden, games appear to be over. Instead of laughing about Trump’s embarrassing subservience to Putin, experts and pundits on state TV are grim-faced as they anticipate harsh measures against the Kremlin by the Biden administration.

Fears of additional sanctions are holding Moscow back from overt aggression, but the inflammatory anti-American rhetoric is being ratcheted up across all of the Kremlin-controlled state media.