(Huffington Post) Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to provoke a military confrontation with the West. His military jets have repeatedly buzzed NATO facilities, coming close to causing a crash with a Swedish civilian airliner. He has vowed to extend the range of those patrols to the Gulf of Mexico. After he took credit for initiating the September 5 ceasefire in eastern Ukraine, the rebels he supports have done everything they can to undermine it. Monitoring drones from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (a neutral group where Russia is a member) have been repeatedly shot at or jammed on the Russian border. Recently Putin broke the truce definitively, sending columns of unmarked military trucks, heavy weapons, and "little green men" into Donetsk, according to NATO.
Putin's actions have gone beyond simply reasserting Russia's great power status. He is goading the United States to take a more militarized approach to the crisis — much as in 2008 his threatening actions provoked Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili to directly enter the conflict in South Ossetia and Abkhazia. His timing coincides with the return of hardline Republicans to majority control in the U.S. Senate, where they can push through pending legislation to send lethal weapons to Ukraine. […]
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