The PJ Tatler

Report: Russian Tanks Enter Ukraine

Putin appears to be upping the ante in Ukraine.

Military spokesman Andriy Lysenko said a convoy made up of 32 tanks, 16 howitzer cannons and 30 trucks of troops and equipment crossed the border into the rebel-controlled Lugansk region on Thursday.

Another column including trucks and three mobile radar stations crossed another border point in the same region, he said.

The Fiscal Times reminds that Putin’s objectives go far beyond seizing chunks of Ukraine.

The deteriorating situation in Ukraine might deserve its low profile if it was just violence in Ukraine. But it’s not. It’s symptomatic of renewed Russian pressure all along the frontier with Europe. Days after the cease-fire came into force (again, escaping doublespeak is impossible), Russian forces abducted an Estonian security service officer and spirited him away in a car into Russia. It’s not clear if he’s back.  A mystery submarine was near Stockholm, and on October 28thNATO fighters from several countries scrambled to intercept four groups of Russian aircraft conducting potential nuclear drills along the alliance’s periphery.

Related: Ukraine Crisis Deepens After Rebel Vote in East

The objective of this pressure is ostensibly to split NATO.  In the short run, according to Tsarov, the Russians and their rebels seem to be aiming at capturing enough of Ukraine’s coastline to create a land bridge to the Crimean peninsula, which is now accessible to them only by water.  But over the long run, Russia’s intent is to force the states along NATO’s periphery to react strongly; to react as if, per John Kerry, there is a 19th century threat.

They will; and that reaction will be profoundly unsettling for many Western European nations, which make up the bulk of traditional NATO and often have the unfortunate diplomatic tic of acting puzzled by aggression, like somebody who violated the seating chart at dinner.  After the rebels’ November 2 elections, for example, the German government responded that the vote was unlawful because it was not in compliance with the Minsk agreement, Ukrainian law or the Ukrainian constitution.  Angela Merkel’s office said it could not understand how Russia could consider recognizing the elections.

Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, Finland, Sweden and Moldova are all preparing in one way or another for war with Russia. They’re shifting forces to the east, and they’re deepening cooperation with NATO.

The mid-term elections changed a lot, but they didn’t change anything that’s going on outside our borders.

Secretary of State John Kerry’s top concern remains global warming, by the way.