Yet Another Escalation in Ukraine

I posted a few days ago that Mr. Putin has been playing with fire in Ukraine. Well, apparently he doesn’t seem to think so. Annexing Crimea seemed beyond the pale a while ago. But then fermenting separatism in eastern Ukraine took things a step further.  Providing separatists with advanced weaponry that most likely took down a commercial airliner seemed to take this to another level. Then sending in convoys over the protest of the Ukrainian government. All of these actions have been provocative, and one hoped that escalated sanctions against Russia imposed by the US and Europe might have signaled that it is all beyond the pale. That it was time to negotiate a settlement.

But now we hear that Russia has been sending its own troops into Ukraine. How do we know? the Ukrainian government has captured some, and we have reports of Russian soldier fatalities.

The reporting suggests that this “muddies the waters” for a settlement. Does it? I think it clarifies things. It clarifies that Russian ambitions in Ukraine are larger than we thought. Mr. Putin is gambling for high stakes in Ukraine. Why risk so much? If the reason were to protect “urgent national interests”, as some have claimed, we might understand. But what are these urgent interests? If they were protecting Russian nationals living in Ukraine, Putin could have done a deal to get regional autonomy. No, it is more clear that his intention is to annex more territory. That is a totally separate matter and one that Europe is not likely to accept.

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