Editor’s note: The following story is co-published with Matt Bivens’ Substack newsletter, The 100 Days.

The war in Ukraine is escalating with terrifying rapidity.

On Sunday, Ukrainian forces fired five U.S.-supplied ATACMS missiles — carrying U.S.-supplied cluster bombs — at the Crimean city of Sevastopol. The exact target is unclear. But as Russian air defenses shot them down, one of the missiles with its multiple cluster bomblets accidentally rained down upon Russian families enjoying a day at the beach, killing at least four people (including two children) and injuring more than 150.

Earlier that day, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had called publicly, again, for permission to use those ATACMS to strike into Russian territory. Zelensky cited the Ukrainian civilians killed this same weekend in Kharkiv by Russian airstrikes. (Yes, bombs rained down on both Russian and Ukrainian civilians this Trinity Sunday — also known as Pentecost, and the day on which both the Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox churches say the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles of Jesus.)

Throughout the war until, apparently, this weekend, the United States had been refusing permission to hit Russian territory with long-range ATACMS missiles. From The New York Times on Sunday:

The Times reported that, while the U.S. government had lifted earlier restrictions on firing some of our missiles into Russian territory, so far that “does not apply to the use of Army Tactical Missile Systems, known as ATACMS.”

Did we finally green-light such an attack the day that Zelensky again asked for it? And did Ukraine within hours immediately launch U.S. missiles, carrying U.S. cluster bombs, and guided by U.S. targeting satellites, at the Russians? (Or perhaps we don’t count Crimea as “Russian territory”?)

The U.S. government has not commented, other than to say Ukraine picks its own targets. But the Russian government says those missiles require active U.S. guidance to launch, and their anti-American rhetoric has soared. A Kremlin spokesman on Monday told reporters the United States is now implicated in “killing Russian children” at the beach with cluster bombs.

“The involvement of the United States, the direct involvement, as a result of which Russian civilians are killed, cannot be without consequences,” the Kremlin spokesman said, adding that “time will tell what these will be.” That same message was echoed by other top defense and foreign ministry leadership and is clearly a hardening, new Russian position.

“The involvement of the United States, the direct involvement, as a result of which Russian civilians are killed, cannot be without consequences,” the Kremlin spokesman said.

Dmitry Medvedev — the only other living former president of Russia, by the way — wrote on Telegram: “Bastards from the U.S.A. are supplying [Ukrainian forces] with cluster munitions and helping guide them to their targets,” and expressed his hope that both the Americans and Ukrainians involved “will burn in hell” and, if possible, “even sooner — in an earthly fire.”

(Someday, Vladimir Putin will leave the Russian presidency. Who will take over for him? Someone like Medvedev?)

The Russians summoned the U.S. ambassador to Moscow to tell her formally that Russia will now retaliate against the United States over this. The Russians told our ambassador that America is “waging a hybrid war against Russia and has actually become a party to the conflict,” and therefore, “retaliatory measures will definitely follow.”

And yet all of this has barely been reported in America. The New York Times buried news of this — of U.S.-supplied-and-guided missiles raining U.S. cluster bombs onto a Russian beach and killing children — in paragraph 21 of a report focused more on something else (on a similarly horrific — and possibly unrelated? — series of terror attacks this same weekend in Russian Dagestan).

So, here we are, on the eve of the long, hot summer of 2024. Putin has offered peace negotiations — from a position of strength, by the way, with the Russian military forces in Ukraine now far larger than when the war began. The Russians are right now winning the war. U.S. President Joe Biden could accept that peace talks offer, and we could see a ceasefire and negotiations almost immediately.

Instead, our response has been to have our Ukrainian proxies escalate the war. The Russian public is now looking at videos of panicked families fleeing a beach, carrying injured or dead relatives on beach lounge chairs, and is being told, “America did this.”

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