The Post reports:

Russian forces in two armored columns captured a key southeastern coastal town near the Russian border Thursday after Ukrainian forces retreated in the face of superior firepower, a Ukrainian military spokesman said.

A pro-Russian rebel walks in a passage at the local market damaged by shelling in Petrovskiy district in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, on Tuesday. (Mstislav Chernov/Associated Press)

The two Russian columns, including tanks and armored fighting vehicles, entered the town of Novoazovsk on the Sea of Azov after a battle in which Ukrainian army positions came under fire from Grad rockets launched from Russian territory, according to the spokesman, Col. Andriy Lysenko.

“Our border servicemen and guardsmen retreated as they did not have heavy equipment,” Lysenko said in a statement.

Ukrainian authorities have denounced the latest fighting as a Russian invasion of their territory, intended to prop up pro-Moscow separatists who have been losing ground to Ukrainian forces and to open a new front in the southeastern corner of Ukraine.

What was the Obama administration’s initial reaction? “These incursions indicate a Russian-directed counteroffensive is likely underway in Donetsk and Luhansk. Clearly, that is of deep concern to us,” a State Department spokeswoman said yesterday. She could not have been more inoffensive. Oh, the administration is also “concerned by the Russian Government’s unwillingness to tell the truth even as its soldiers are found 30 miles inside Ukraine. Russia is sending its young men into Ukraine but are telling – are not telling them where they’re going or telling their parents what they’re doing.” The spokeswoman further indicated that we wouldn’t change our policy of refusing to provide Ukraine with defensive weapons.

Plainly, Russian President Vladimir Putin has taken the measure of President Obama and found him to be no obstacle to re-creation of the Russian empire. Former assistant secretary of state Brian Hook observes: “Putin’s aggression is a direct challenge to the post-Cold War security order in Europe that America largely created. The President doesn’t seem to fully appreciate this, which is both strange and troubling.” But it’s not unexpected, given his track record. Of course, the concern goes beyond Ukraine or even the other former (soon to be current Russian territories?) Soviet states. “Don’t forget that how we handle Ukraine has repercussions outside of Ukraine,” warns Hook. “What conclusion do you think China is drawing as they watch Russia easily outmaneuver the West?” Probably the same one Iran, Syria and other bad actors have come to.

There is no better example of the ruinous Obama foreign policy than Ukraine. The president has issued empty threats, diminished sanctions and refused to allow Ukraine to protect itself. If you are the leader of a Baltic state, you’re probably and justifiably panicked. The president will no doubt issue more empty threats. But that doesn’t do Ukraine any good, and it surely won’t protect other potential victims. Hillary Clinton‘s reset policy, it seems, has been a complete failure. Or is she going to blame others for this one as well?

Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.