U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt held a press conference in Kiev on Tuesday, saying that Russian troop movements into Ukraine would constitute a serious escalation and, even further, the U.S. would respond immediately, UPI reports.
He continued, as the Kyiv Post reported, saying that “such a scenario would lead to tragic consequences.”
At first glance, this sounds like tough talk. In essence, Pyatt seems to be telling Moscow, “if you invade, U.S. troops will stop you.”
And certainly, with 600 U.S. troops already moved into Poland and the Baltic states, things could get ugly.
But the statement was rather cryptic. How would the U.S. respond? With military force, more diplomatic maneuvers, or more sanctions? And invasion would lead to tragic consequences for whom?
Further, it doesn’t make much sense. Ukraine has already been invaded. Crimea — if we can shift the clock back a few months — was very much a part of Ukraine. It was invaded and taken over by Russian forces, held a sham referendum, then annexed.
So what of eastern Ukraine? It could be reasonably argued that it too has been invaded as well. Throughout the country, armed militias have seized government buildings and terrorized the local populace, with all signs pointing to their origination being from Russia.
“What is happening in eastern Ukraine is a military operation that is well-planned and organised,” Gen. Philip Breedlove, commander of NATO, wrote on the unit’s website, “and we assess that it is being carried out at the direction of Russia.”
And just today, AP reported on a shadowy militia commander named Igor Strelkov, who has been identified as a Russian security services operative.
“This is terrorism, pure and simple,” the U.S. Embassy in Kiev wrote on its website of a recent attack on pro-unity demonstrators. “We support the Ukrainian Government’s efforts to contain this threat and defend the lives and safety of its citizens.”
So are these empty threats at Moscow or the new “red line” in Ukraine? It’s hard to say.
But it seems this time, the U.S. is trying not to make that same mistake twice.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.