Pro-Russian rebels on Wednesday shot down two Ukrainian fighter jets near where a civilian airliner was downed last week, Kiev said (NYT). The incident comes as the first flight bearing the bodies of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17's victims departed Ukraine, and a day after U.S. intelligence officials laid out their case tying the rebels, and their sponsor in Moscow, to the incident, which claimed 298 lives (WaPo). EU foreign ministers on Tuesday declined to levy new sanctions on Russia, but called on the European Commission to draw up a list of potential new targets (FT).
"The real military capability conveyed by any given weapon is only weakly related to the weapon's technical characteristics. Especially for nonstate militaries, the presence or absence of the institutional infrastructure needed to use complex systems effectively is a much stronger predictor of real power. Some nonstate actors are actually surprisingly mature on this score; others much less so. And the difference matters – a lot," write CFR's Stephen Biddle and Ivan Oelrich for the Monkey Cage.
"U.S. policy has to have a larger goal—to delegitimize Russian policy toward Ukraine from top to bottom. MH17's passengers lost their lives in circumstances completely different from all previous cases. It's becoming clear that the Kremlin intended to give insurgent forces in eastern Ukraine the ability to shoot down high-flying planes," writes CFR's Stephen Sestanovich for the Wall Street Journal.
"Just when EU foreign ministers had a chance to act decisively over Russia's meddling in eastern Ukraine, they refused to jump at the opportunity. Instead, they put interests before values… Instead of imposing an arms embargo on Russia, the foreign ministers proposed a range of other sanctions. These include blocking Russian access to Europe's capital markets and placing limits on military and other sensitive technologies," writes Judy Dempsey in Strategic Europe.