Chalk another one up for Vlad.
By the time Western officials had figured out what and where the Kerch Strait was, the Russian leader had sewn up his naval operation, taking around two dozen Ukrainian sailors prisoner (shooting and wounding at least three of them), and impounded their vessels. Not bad for a Sunday outing.
Meanwhile, over in the EU cocoon, Germans debated whether the United Nations refugee compact would be legally binding and the French squabbled over the price of gasoline. And the U.S.? Lost somewhere in Trumpland. [Who’s fault is that? Mr Trump addressed this very forcefully. If the press aren’t talking about it, it’s not Trump’s fault].
In case there were any lingering doubts over the efficacy of Western efforts to rein in Russia, Moscow’s latest aggression made it pretty clear that the attempts to coax Vladimir Putin into de-escalating the confrontation with Ukraine have failed. No degree of sanctions, German-led “dialogue,” or even genuflection has made much of an impression on the Russian leader…
Sunday’s showdown wasn’t random, it was the culmination of a yearslong strategy to assert control over the Azov Sea, a process that the West largely ignored. Remember the high-level outrage over Russia’s construction of a bridge over the Kerch Strait, despite Ukrainian protests that it would further constrict trade and access to Mariupol, a regional hub in the east of the country? No? That might be because there was none.
So Putin continued to push the limits, harassing Ukrainian ships through the strait, while quadrupling the size of Russian naval forces in the area.
Again, nary a peep from the West.