Our fetish for agreements with thugs who see agreements as important parts of their aggression has enabled Putin to gear up for a new offensive in the Donbas:
NATO's chief on Thursday reported a sizeable Russian military buildup on the border with Ukraine that he said would enable pro-Moscow separatists to launch a new offensive with little warning.
Meanwhile, the Russians try to muddy the waters (for the benefit of the criminally stupid and ignorant) of their intervention by accusing America of being the side with troops in eastern Ukraine:
Interfax quoted Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov as saying U.S. troops were training Ukrainian forces not only in western Ukraine "as Ukrainian TV channels show, but directly in the combat zone in the area of Mariupol, Severodonetsk, Artyomovsk and Volnovakha."
The Russian Defense Ministry affirmed the report, but the Pentagon rejected it.
"This is a ridiculous attempt to shift the focus away from what is actually happening in eastern Ukraine," said Eileen Lainez, a Pentagon spokeswoman.
"Russia continues to supply lethal weapons, training and command and control support for armed separatists in eastern Ukraine, in blatant violation of Moscow's Minsk commitments and Ukraine's sovereignty," she added.
Now that Russia is trotting out this accusation, don't be too surprised if Russia hauls out the evidence to back their claim--from American equipment that Russia captured in Georgia in 2008:
Russian forces seized U.S. military equipment during the recent fighting in Georgia in addition to five vehicles whose capture was reported earlier, the Pentagon said Monday.
We keep trying to give Putin an "off ramp" to end his war against Ukraine when Putin clearly seeks victory rather than an exit strategy.
While we can offer the carrot of a deal to keep this crisis from expanding into a new Cold War, we do need to apply the stick of more dead Russian soldiers to get Putin to recoil from pursuing his maximalist aims.
Or are we to count on Putin deciding he's taken enough at some point?