Stories by Seth Cropsey

Expert Voices

Russia’s attack on Ukraine was an attack on the international order

Ukrainian soldier stands guard aboard military boat called 'Dondass' moored in Mariupol, Sea of Azov port on November 27, 2018.
A Ukrainian soldier aboard a military boat moored in the Sea of Azov, Ukraine, on November 27, 2018. Photo: Sega Volskii/AFP via Getty Images

Russia’s deliberate Sunday attack on two Ukrainian patrol boats and a tugboat, which violated a 14-year-old treaty that gave both states use of the inland sea, continues Moscow's policy of “nibble warfare.” For nearly a decade, Vladimir Putin has used political intimidation, cyber warfare and fictitious claims of protecting ethnic Russians in neighboring states to advance his revanchist goals while skirting the threshold for international retaliation.

Why it matters: The attack is a reminder of Putin’s ongoing intimidation of NATO member states on the Black Sea, and of Moscow’s potential to heat up the “frozen” conflict over Transnistria, a thin slice of land that separated from Moldova after the USSR's dissolution. If Russia gets away with breaking its treaty with Ukraine and violating a neighboring state’s territorial waters, China may also learn that more aggressive tactics in disputes with its South China Sea neighbors would carry little to no risk.