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The Ukraine Face-Off

It was no coincidence that Russian-backed forces in the former Soviet republic launched a new offense in eastern Ukraine so soon after Trump took office
By The News · 07 of February 2017 09:53:28
Russian President Vladimir Putin listens during a meeting at the Novo-Ogaryov residence outside Moscow, Russia on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016, No available, photo: Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP/Alexei Druzhinin

Maybe because he felt that there were so many other pressing issues going on in the international arena that nobody would notice.

Or maybe he figured he would test the current global political waters and see just how far he could push the new leader of the Free World without provoking a reaction.

But whatever his provocation, Russian President Vladimir Putin has once again upped the ante in his quest to usurp Ukraine.

Certainly, it was no coincidence that Russian-backed forces in the former Soviet republic launched a new offense in eastern Ukraine so soon after U.S. President Donald J. Trump took office.

And as the fighting continues to intensify, it seems clear that Putin is sending a message to his U.S. counterpart to either stand up or shut up regarding his stance to defend Ukraine against the Russian bear.

The U.N. Security Council has called for “an immediate return to the cease-fire regime,” but like most U.N. demands, that call has gone unheeded.

And the so-called “sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine” that the United Nations is petitioning Russia to respect has essentially dissolved over the course of the last three years.

In the last couple weeks, renewed barrages near the government-held industrial town of Avdiyivka, have escalated, and it is becoming more and more apparent that the defense of Kiev is not a high priority for Trump.

If Trump does not call Moscow out on the new aggressions of his minions in east Ukraine, he is in effect giving Putin carte blanche to continue with his Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) imperative and further destabilization efforts in the region.

The end result is that Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko may end up stuck in the middle, with no other alternative than to cozy up to Putin and try to negotiate the best deal with the Kremlin that he can, given a weak hand against Moscow’s newfound ace-in-the-hold relationship with Washington.

In that case, Putin will have Ukraine served up on a silver platter as the first course in his ravenous EEU manifesto.

With a less-unified Europe and an uncertain NATO, Russia now holds all the cards in a Ukrainian territorial face-off, unless Trump dares to take a stand against Putin and put his foot down once and for all on Moscow’s creeping expansionism.

Thérèse Margolis can be reached at [email protected]