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In the week after a Russian built, Russian commanded, and probably Russian operated anti-aircraft missile knocked a Malaysia Air plane from the skies over Ukraine, Russia has shown no signs of letting the stigma of slaughtering innocents deter them from their mission of carving up Ukraine. In fact, they have doubled down.
Russian military forces have fired artillery rounds into eastern Ukraine targeting Ukrainian military positions and plans to send even more heavy multiple rocket launchers to Russian separatists, U.S. officials said for the first time today.
A Pentagon official labeled the Russian activity as “a clear escalation” of the conflict in that region that has drawn worldwide attention since Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down.
“We have new evidence that the Russians intend to deliver heavier and more powerful multiple rocket launchers to the separatist forces in Ukraine, and have evidence that Russia is firing artillery from within Russia to attack Ukrainian military positions,” said Marie Harf, a State Department spokeswoman.
This is an obvious provocation. By using artillery located in Russia, the Ukrainian
puppets separatists are able to achieve a strategic depth that obviates the gains on the ground made by the Ukrainian army. If artillery is there you can be sure that ammunition dumps, fuel depots, repair facilities, training camps, and command and control facilities are close by. This places Ukraine in the position of either accepting this and the higher casualties that will go with it, or going after these legitimate targets and seeing Russia use it as casus belli and enter the war openly.
The situation has deteriorated to the point that even the Obama administration has roused itself from its perpetual stupor to take notice:
Russia has increased its direct involvement in fighting between the Ukrainian military and separatist insurgents, moving more of its own troops to the border and preparing to arm the rebels with ever more potent weapons, including high-powered Tornado rocket launchers, American and Ukrainian officials said on Friday.
The officials, citing satellite images and other military intelligence, said that Russia had positioned heavy weapons, including tanks and other combat vehicles, at several points along the border where there has been intense fighting. On Thursday, Russia unleashed artillery attacks on eastern Ukraine from Russian territory, officials in Washington and Kiev said. While Russia flatly denied accelerating its intervention on Friday, American and Ukrainian officials said Moscow appeared anxious to stem gains by government forces that have succeeded in retaking some rebel-held territory.
American and Ukrainian officials said Russia has moved beyond simply helping separatists and is now engaging directly in the war. Multiple Ukrainian military planes have been brought down in recent days by missiles fired from Russian territory, and now artillery batteries are firing from across the border into Ukraine, the officials said.
The situation is precarious. Much as a shark has to keep moving or it drowns, so, too, Vladimir Putin must move from adventure to adventure, vanquishing enemies domestic and foreign, in order to stay in power. The moment he fails at anything his hold on power weakens. While Putin must either prevail or find a plausible way out, Europe is irresolute and the United States is ruled by a narcissist who is only concerned with having fun.