Vladimir Putin just showed the world exactly what he thinks of the President of the United State and NATO allies calls for him to rein in the pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine.
Less than a week after rebels took down a Malaysian passenger plane carrying nearly 300 civilians, the militants loyal to Moscow are not laying low. “Two Ukrainian fighter jets were shot down Wednesday in the eastern regions of the country that are controlled by Russian-backed separatists, according to Ukraine’s defense ministry,” USA Today reported on Wednesday.
It was the first reported shoot down of a plane over eastern Ukraine since a Malaysia Airlines jet carrying 298 people went down last Thursday, killing everyone aboard. U.S. officials say the Flight MH 17 was apparently brought down by a surface-to-air missile.
A similar SU-25 jet was shot down on July 17, the might before the MH 17 crash, by an air-to-air missile along the country’s border with Russia, according to the Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for Ukraine’s national defense and security council.
The planes were reportedly taken down in the rebel-held eastern part of Ukraine, but far removed from the area in which MH17 was allegedly hit by a sophisticated surface-to-air missile.
The fact that Russian "separatists" feel no constrains on going back to firing missiles in the air… telling http://t.co/HY9zI5yRPe
— Josh Kraushaar (@HotlineJosh) July 23, 2014
It sure is.
As is Vladimir Putin’s response to the escalating violence in Ukraine and the calls for his government to withdraw their support for the pro-Russian partisans who have actively destabilized that European nation since March. The downing of two more Ukrainian jets comes as a U.S. intelligence assessment indicates that Russian heavy weaponry and trained fighters have continued to flow into Ukraine even after the attack on MH17.
In a meeting with Russia’s Security Council, Putin framed the conflict in Eastern Ukraine as one with nearly existential stakes for the Russian Federation.
“We are asked to influence the militia in the southeast. As I have said, we will do everything in our power, but this is absolutely insufficient,” Putin said, according to the Kremlin’s English translation of the meeting. “We should finally call on the Kiev authorities to comply with elementary norms of human decency and introduce a cease-fire for at least some short period of time to make the investigation possible.”
This is exactly why Russia supported the [UN] Security Council Resolution proposed by Australia. We will continue working together with all our partners to ensure a complete and comprehensive investigation. However, if we get back to such scenarios in general, as I have said, they are absolutely unacceptable and counterproductive. They destabilize the existing world order.
This last reference to the “existing world order” is not insignificant. The motivation for Russia’s intervention in Ukraine in the first place was the desire to preserve what they believed was the imminent threat posed by revolutionary forces in Kiev which planned to move that country closer to Europe and the West. The ouster of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was also a threat to the existing world order in the Kremlin’s eyes, and Russia committed to a low-intensity war in Ukraine in order to defend the present order and their place in it.
Because the stakes in Ukraine are so much higher for Moscow than they are for Brussels or Washington, there will be no de-escalation anytime soon. Without a stronger commitment from the West, there will be no meaningful imposition of costs on Russia that they are not willing to pay.