Earlier this week, Vladimir Putin crossed an internationally-recognized line in the sand, sending Russian troops into eastern Ukraine.
Of course, Putin had his made-up reasons. The Russian President arbitrarily decided that two regions in the eastern part of Ukraine were now not part of Ukraine, and signed a treaty saying so. Then, under the pretense that these disputed lands would need help, sent in “peacekeeping” tanks and artillery.
The US and other nations responded swiftly with sanctions, but the breadth of these economic penalties, along with Putin’s own words, revealed that this is only the beginning of the conflict.
The East-West faceoff over Ukraine escalated dramatically Tuesday, with Russian lawmakers authorizing President Vladimir Putin to use military force outside his country and U.S. President Joe Biden and European leaders responding by slapping sanctions on Russian oligarchs and banks.
Both leaders signaled that an even bigger confrontation could lie ahead. Putin has yet to unleash the force of the 150,000 troops massed on three sides of Ukraine, while Biden held back on even tougher sanctions that could cause economic turmoil for Russia but said they would go ahead if there is further aggression.
Then came Putin’s egotistical maneuvering.
Earlier Tuesday, members of Russia’s upper house, the Federation Council, voted unanimously to allow Putin to use military force outside the country — effectively formalizing a Russian military deployment to the rebel regions, where an eight-year conflict has killed nearly 14,000 people.
Shortly afterward, Putin laid out three conditions to end the crisis that has threatened to plunge Europe back into war, raising the specter of massive casualties, energy shortages across the continent and global economic chaos.
Putin said the crisis could be resolved if Kyiv recognizes Russia’s sovereignty over Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula that Moscow annexed after seizing it from Ukraine in 2014, renounces its bid to join NATO and partially demilitarizes. The West has decried the annexation of Crimea as a violation of international law and has previously flatly rejected permanently barring Ukraine from NATO.
The moves spooked the international stock market, with fears of another World War loomed large over the European continent.