Can the West Prevent the Slow Strangulation of Ukraine?

Creeping Russian Aggression Cannot Go Unchecked

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko addresses servicemen of the 40th Tactical Aviation Brigade of the Ukrainian Armed Forces at an airbase in Vasylkiv near Kiev, Ukraine, December 2018.  Mykola Lazarenko / Ukrainian Presidential Press Service via REUTERS

Recent events in the Black Sea have thrust Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine back into the international headlines, but for ordinary Ukrainians, it never went away. Over the past four and a half years, Ukrainian society has grown grimly familiar with a unique brand of creeping Russian aggression that has been carefully calibrated to cause maximum damage while avoiding the crippling costs implicit in a more conventional campaign. Russia’s hybrid hostilities have extended far beyond the country’s thinly veiled military intervention in eastern Ukraine, with Moscow also making use of targeted assassinations, cyberattacks, trade embargoes, and disinformation campaigns to keep Ukraine permanently destabilized and to prevent the country’s final escape from the Kremlin’s sphere of influence. Throughout it all, the one constant has been a desire to disguise Russian involvement. This emphasis on plausible deniability made Russia’s November 25 naval attack on three

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