U.S. responds to major escalation of hostilities between Ukraine and Russia
posted at 7:21 pm on July 16, 2014 by Noah Rothman
On Sunday, global tensions heightened when Moscow claimed a Ukrainian shell exploded in Russian territory, killing one and wounding two others. Russia warned Ukraine of “consequences” for that act, and retaliation may have come on Wednesday.
Multiple videos claiming to feature Russian forces lobbying a volley of rockets in Ukraine’s direction surfaced online.
The analysts at Interpreter Magazine have done excellent work geo-locating the source of this missile barrage, concluding that the missiles were fired from inside the Russian Federation and were directed westward.
This is not the only violence to rock Ukraine in recent days.
Interfax and other agencies report that the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense has announced that a Ukrainian Air Force Su-25 attack aircraft has been forced to make an emergency landing after being struck by a surface-to-air missile (SAM).
On Wednesday, in response to months of escalations of the conflict in Eastern Europe, the White House announced that new sanctions would be imposed on the Russian Federation.
“Among the firms targeted were some of the most prominent in Russia,” The New York Times reported, “including Rosneft, the state-owned oil company and largest oil producer; Gazprombank, the financial arm of Gazprom, the giant state-controlled natural gas producer; Novatek, another Russian natural gas producer that has been competing with Gazprom; and Vnezheconombank, the state economic development bank.”
US also sanctioned 4 Russian officials, including head of Federal Security Service, minister for Crimea, deputy Duma chair and a Putin aide
— Peter Baker (@peterbakernyt) July 16, 2014
Russia's Gazprom claims to hold the world’s largest natural gas reserves. @USTreasury just cut it off from US dollar financing. Significant.
— margaret brennan (@margbrennan) July 16, 2014
The Associated Press reported that the European Union has also agreed to tougher sanctions on Russia and has asked banks “not to sign new financing with Moscow.”
On Wednesday evening, President Barack Obama addressed the escalating situation:
“I’ve repeatedly made it clear that Russia must halt the flow of weapons and fighters across the border into Ukraine; that Russia must urge separatists to release their hostages and support a ceasefire; that Russia needs to pursue internationally mediated talks and agree to meaningful monitors on the border,” Obama said. “We have emphasized our preference to resolve this issue diplomatically, but we have to see concrete actions and not just words.”
“So far, Russia has failed to take any of the steps that I mentioned,” he continued.
After previously addressing the pending close of unsuccessful nuclear negotiations with Iran and the ongoing conflict in Gaza, Obama stressed that, “if we stay patient and determined,” the United States will meet the challenges of a “complex world and a changing time.”