Nothing displays weakness and encourages aggression more than issuing a deadline/ultimatum to the opposition and then letting it pass without taking concrete action. That is what has happened in the Ukraine. The government in Kiev had three choices: Do nothing, do something that will help bring about a positive conclusion to the crisis, or do something indecisive and exacerbate the current situation.
Kiev has apparently selected Option #3.
The deadline has come and gone. Yesterday, on Facebook of all places, Ukrainian officials boasted about the commencement of ‘anti-terror’ operations in the eastern part of the country. Those operations have yet to begin. Kiev continues to be committed to a political resolution of the crisis. That is understandable. However, if that is the case, Kiev should refrain from declaring ultimatums. Instead of helping to resolve the crisis, the empty threats have only undermined the government’s position.
There are signs of this evident in the eastern region today. Pro-Russia crowds stormed and took over a police station in Horlivka, a town outside of Donetsk. In the coming days, expect more government buildings to fall into the hands of demonstrators. Russia and the protesters in the eastern Ukraine will most likely become even more emboldened by Kiev’s weakness and look to exploit it.
In the Black Sea, there are signs of Russia challenging the US Navy presence in the region. Yesterday, an Su-24 Fencer fighter-bomber made numerous passes in close proximity to the USS. Donald Cook, a US destroyer sailing in the Black Sea. Encounters like this are far from uncommon. Yet, given the tension in the region, Moscow is undoubtedly sending a message to the US.