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Russia’s Latest Aggression Demands a Response

The attack on Ukraine’s ships is a test of Western resolve.

Plotting a surprise attack?

Plotting a surprise attack?

Photographer: Alexey Druzhinin/AFP/Getty Images

The latest crisis involving Russian aggression — the seizure of three Ukrainian naval ships and 24 sailors in the Sea of Azov – is classic Vladimir Putin. With his popularity at home collapsing almost as quickly as the price of the oil that keeps Russia’s economy afloat, an international incident that the Russian propaganda machine can blame on the enemy is just what he needed.

One question now is whether he will take this further, using more hybrid warfare to destabilize Ukraine, ramp up his proxy war in the nation’s east, or try another land grab, as he did in Crimea four years ago. Another question is what, if anything, the West will do to dissuade him.