The Ukraine Crisis Has Escalated — Again. Now What?

A U.S. response to the latest Russian provocations may take a while.

Pro-Ukrainian supporters rally in front of policemen guarding the Russian consulate in Odessa on June 16, demanding the Russian flag there be flown at half mast to commemorate the 49 Ukrainian troops killed in the downing of a military plane.
National Journal
Marina Koren
Add to Briefcase
Marina Koren
June 16, 2014, 10:20 a.m.

Two weeks ago, Pres­id­ent Obama warned Rus­si­an Pres­id­ent Vladi­mir Putin that Rus­sia would face “ad­di­tion­al costs” if it didn’t stop fan­ning the sep­ar­at­ist fire in east­ern Ukraine.

Then on Fri­day, Rus­sia sent tanks, rock­et launch­ers, and oth­er weapons to sep­ar­at­ists in east­ern Ukraine, ac­cord­ing to the State De­part­ment. The day after, Rus­si­an-backed mil­it­ants shot down a Ukrain­i­an mil­it­ary plane, killing the 49 people aboard — the dead­li­est event since un­rest began Feb­ru­ary.

And on Monday, Rus­sia cut off its gas sup­ply to Ukraine.

The Ukraine crisis has quickly es­cal­ated in a mat­ter of days — yet again. But wheth­er the re­cent events are enough for more U.S. ac­tion against Rus­si­an pro­voca­tion in the com­ing weeks re­mains un­clear.

A Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Coun­cil spokes­wo­man said Monday that the U.S. con­tin­ues to urge Rus­sia to pull its sup­port from sep­ar­at­ist groups and stop the flow of arms across the bor­der. For now, it looks as if the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion is stick­ing to its usu­al tac­tic in this crisis — play­ing the wait-and-see game as Putin makes prom­ises to dis­en­gage from the re­gion.

“The mere fact that some of the Rus­si­an sol­diers have moved back from the bor­der and that Rus­sia is now destabil­iz­ing Ukraine through sur­rog­ates, rather than overtly and ex­pli­citly, does not mean that we can af­ford three months, or four months, or six months, of con­tin­ued vi­ol­ence and con­flict in east­ern Ukraine,” Obama said dur­ing the G-7 sum­mit at the be­gin­ning of this month.

But talk of sanc­tions is es­pe­cially un­likely to come in the im­me­di­ate weeks. All eyes are on the de­teri­or­at­ing situ­ation in Ir­aq right now, a real­ity that buys Rus­sia time. With the ad­min­is­tra­tion dis­trac­ted by events in the Middle East, Putin may be think­ing he has ad­di­tion­al wiggle room for more med­dling in Ukraine.

What We're Following See More »
ANOTHER GOP MODERATE TO HER SIDE
John Warner to Endorse Clinton
5 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton will score another high-powered Republican endorsement on Wednesday, according to a campaign aide: retired senator John Warner of Virginia, a popular GOP maverick with renowned military credentials."

Source:
AUTHORITY OF EPA IN QUESTION
Appeals Court Hears Clean Power Plant Case
5 hours ago
THE LATEST

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Tuesday "heard several hours of oral arguments" over the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan rules. The 10-judge panel "focused much of their questioning on whether the EPA had overstepped its legal authority by seeking to broadly compel this shift away from coal, a move the EPA calls the Best System of Emission Reduction, or BSER. The states and companies suing the EPA argue the agency doesn’t have the authority to regulate anything outside of a power plant itself."

Source:
$28 MILLION THIS WEEK
Here Come the Ad Buys
5 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Spending by super PACs tied to Donald Trump friends such as Ben Carson and banker Andy Beal will help make this week the general election's most expensive yet. Republicans and Democrats will spend almost $28 million on radio and television this week, according to advertising records, as Trump substantially increases his advertising buy for the final stretch. He's spending $6.4 million in nine states, part of what aides have said will be a $100 million television campaign through Election Day."

Source:
UNLIKELY TO GET A VOTE, LIKELY TO ANGER GOP SENATORS
Obama Nominates Ambassador to Cuba
9 hours ago
THE LATEST
GOP REFUSED VOTE ON FCC COMMISIONER
Reid Blocks Tech Bill Over “Broken Promise”
9 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Monday night's debate may have inspired some in Congress, as Senate Minority Leader has decided to take a stand of his own. Reid is declining to allow a vote on a "bipartisan bill that would bolster U.S. spectrum availability and the deployment of wireless broadband." Why? Because of a "broken promise" made a year ago by Republicans, who have refused to vote on confirmation for a Democratic commissioner on the Federal Communications Commission to a second term. Harry Reid then took it a step further, invoking another confirmation vote still outstanding, that of Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland.

Source:
×