Key Takeaway: Russian President Vladimir Putin is using multiple ongoing crises, including the COVID-19 outbreak, to advance his strategic objectives in Ukraine without drawing attention from the West. Ukrainian officials agreed on March 11 to the Kremlin’s demands to consider direct discussions with the Kremlin-controlled proxies in Donbas. This agreement for further talks could launch an irreversible process of internationally legitimizing Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine – one of Putin’s core objectives. These negotiations would have major consequences for Ukraine’s sovereignty, U.S. national security, and the international order. However, the talks remain unsolidified and Ukraine and the West still have time to change course before conceding legitimacy to Kremlin proxies in Donbas.