Who is that Masked Man?

The lead article in today’s New York Times, “Photos Link Masked Men in East Ukraine to Russia,” shows the hypocrisy of the Russian government as they carry out a “special war” against Ukraine.

A special war avoids the open use of military troops and instead relies on the secret service, subversion and terrorism to gain its goals. Russia used a “special war” against its rebellious province of Chechnya and the recent takeover of Crimea as well.

Now, photographs have surfaced tying the pro-Russia militia in East Ukraine to actively serving Russian troops. This loosely kept secret is now exposed, and it puts Russia on warning to comply with the recent agreement in Geneva to withdraw its forces.

These so-called militia have now taken over government buildings in 10 towns in East Ukraine, and their refusal to back down is clearly in accordance with Russia’s wishes. The Geneva accord is now interpreted solely as Russia buying time to avoid new sanctions.

President Obama must step up the pressure on Russia to comply. Its economy is based almost entirely on the energy sector, so a well-targeted boycott could have a major effect. It would also start to erode Mr. Putin’s popularity as the Russian people realize that their political victories come with a cost as the price of food staples starts to rise inexorably.