Obama administration officials said Thursday that Russia is firing artillery from its own territory into Ukraine to hit Ukrainian military sites, pointing to escalating Russian involvement in the deadly conflict.
“This clearly is a military escalation,” Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren said, adding there is no question that Russian military — as opposed to Russia-backed separatists — are firing the shots.
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf first made the accusation during a press briefing earlier Thursday. She also claimed Moscow is boosting its military shipments to pro-Russian separatists.
Well, that ups the ante a bit.
Of course, there’s not a heck of a lot we can do about it. The NATO countries are reliant upon Russian natural gas to keep from freezing to death in the winter, so they might grumble, but they won’t do much.
The Dutch are (quite justifiably) outraged over the shoot down of MH17, but they too have little real leverage.
Unless NATO is willing to stage a “no fly zone” operation over Ukraine (and they aren’t willing) there’s not a lot any soft power is going to accomplish.
How far Putin will push is the question. While I don’t sympathize with Putin, I do see that from his seat, his goal of restablishing Russian control over the territories to its west and south makes strategic sense. Just how far west, and how far south…