This was no accident by Putin…..

Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a “proxy war” against the United State when Russian jets bombed CIA-trained rebels in Syria, and the U.S. military should have been ordered to retaliate, former U.S. Army vice chief of staff General Jack Keane said Thursday.

Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, the retired four-star general said retaliatory options could have included bombing the runway of the Syrian airbase being used by the Russians, and establishing and enforcing protective zones.

The U.S. should also have made it clear to the Russians that the coalition would conduct its air operations against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL) anytime, anywhere and that “the Russians should stay out of our way if they want to avoid confrontation.”

Instead, Keane said, U.S. aircraft were now “rarely” flying against ISIS targets in Syria, but rather focusing their efforts in Iraq.

(U.S. Central Command tallies for coalition airstrikes against ISIS from October 1-7 are 44 in Syria, compared to 115 in Iraq.)

Keane, chairman of the Institute for the Study of War, gave a scathing assessment of the Obama administration’s response to Russian maneuvering in the Middle East and Ukraine.

He said Putin, believing U.S. and European leadership to be weak, “is counting on the U.S. fear of escalation and fear of confrontation to stop any thought of retaliation.”

“Historically, aggression unanswered, has led to more aggression.”

“If we continue to wring our hands and continue to be dominated by fear and opposed to instilling fear, then Russian aggression will not just advance in the Middle East – it will with certainty escalate in the Baltics and eastern Europe,” Keane said.

Russia launched a campaign of airstrikes on September 30, ostensibly targeting ISIS but according to the U.S. focusing more on other rebel groups, including U.S.-backed ones, in an evident bid to strengthen its ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Keane said it was not in error that the Russian warplanes “struck, continuously, moderate rebel forces trained by the Central Intelligence Agency.”