West Needs New Rules to Contain Proxy Wars With Russia

West Needs New Rules to Contain Proxy Wars With Russia
A woman walks at the site of a crashed Malaysia Airlines passenger plane near the village of Rozsypne, eastern Ukraine, July 18, 2014 (AP photo by Dmitry Lovetsky).

Last week, I observed that the most striking feature of the Ukrainian crisis was “just how limited it remains to date.” This proved to be a grotesquely untimely remark.

My basic point remains valid: Although Russia seemed ready to mount a full-scale incursion into eastern Ukraine as early as April, it avoided such an open challenge to the West. The U.S. and Europe reciprocated by limiting sanctions against Moscow in the second quarter of this year. But these signs of restraint have given way to chaos.

Since roughly one week ago, pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine have responded increasingly aggressively to the national army’s effort to regain control over that part of the country. There is considerable evidence that regular Russian forces have become more involved in the battle. Washington responded with a batch of tough new sanctions last Wednesday. The next day, a missile most likely fired from a separatist-held area brought down Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 (MH17), killing 298 civilians.

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