Suppose Ukrainian forces keep winning

It is unclear whether or not the U.S. has a contingency plan to deal with a potential disaster involving Ukraine – success by that nation in battling Russian-backed separatists.

Russian leader Vladimir Putin has thumbed his nose at U.S. efforts to punish Moscow for intervening in Ukraine. But overt, massive Russian help for the separatists has been kept to a minimum. That could change.

Recently, Ukrainian troops scored several successes against the separatists.

Sadly, that falls into the good news, bad news category.

Every victory by Ukrainian government forces makes it more likely Putin will increase his support for the separatists, possibly by using the Russian army openly.

If that happens, what could the U.S. do? President Barack Obama should not commit U.S. military forces to the fight. He can, however, provide more military hardware to the Ukrainians. There may also be other actions that could be taken to pressure Putin.

The tough question, of course, is whether any acceptable U.S. strategy can actually deter Putin.