Russia Has Basically Invaded Ukraine Again. Here's Why Kiev Isn't Shooting Back

by Julia Ioffe | April 16, 2014

photo credit: GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty

You’d be forgiven for losing count of the number of times the provisional government in Kiev has set a deadline for pro-Russian separatists to clear out of government buildings they’ve seized across eastern Ukraine, only to have that deadline pass with barely a whisper.

For the record, there have been two ultimatums, which is exactly one ultimatum too many. It's also now the number of times in as many months that Ukraine has been invaded by Russia: According to the Ukrainian government, the separatists holed up in the south and east of the country are actually Russian special forces, sent in by Moscow to cleave off Ukraine’s richer half. This is corroborated by lots of other sources, too, including U.S. intelligence. That means that Ukrainian territory has once again been seized by the military of another country and the Ukrainian government hasn’t really fired a shot. Even in the last two days, despite the images of Ukrainian armored personnel carriers snaking toward the east, there has been nothing doing: The Ukrainians managed to retake one airfield—and lose six APCs to the rebels. 

So why is a twice-invaded Ukraine not shooting?

The primary reason is that no one wants to go to war with nuclear-armed—and increasingly unhinged—Russia, but it's much more complex than that. 

It's quite a rich dilemma soup, and none of these factors will go away any time soon. In the meantime, Russian forces remain poised on the Ukrainian border, waiting for any pretext to go in and "protect" "Russian-speakers." Prediction: this weird, slow-moving, non-invasion/non-war will drag on for a while. Until Putin finally calls off the hounds.

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