I was recently interviewed by CTV News’ Kevin Newman Live to discuss the deteriorating situation in Ukraine and Putin’s pioneering form of warfare. My assessment should be familiar to readers of this blog: “Even though there are these suspiciously well-trained militants in Ukraine, Putin can still somehow claim plausible deniability.”
In other news, the “war without war” grinds on. The Obama administration has officially endorsed photographs that explicitly link protesters in Crimea and east Ukraine with Russia’s military and intelligence services. As the New York Times reports:
In the eastern city of Slovyansk, under the control of pro-Russian insurgents for more than a week now, the green men have worked hard to blend in with locals but have occasionally let the mask slip, apparently to send a clear message that any push to regain control by Ukrainian forces would risk bringing down the wrath of the Russian military.
A gradation of forces control the city and other areas now in the hands of separatist rebels, ranging from clearly professional masked soldiers and unruly groups of local men in camouflage, rifles slung over their shoulders, to teenage boys in sweatpants carrying baseball bats or hunting knives. At most times, only the local toughs are visible on the streets.
But when a woman sidled up to one of the masked gunmen in the city’s central square last week and asked where he was from, she got an answer that summed up Russia’s bedeviling and constantly shifting disguises. The gunman initially said he was “from Russia,” but when pressed, said coyly that he was “from New Russia,” a long-forgotten czarist-era term revived last week by Mr. Putin to describe a large section of eastern and southern Ukraine.
Asked by the woman what would happen if the Ukrainian Army attacked, he replied, “We have to stand for only 24 hours, to tend the fire, and after that, a one million man army will be here.”