In a stunning sequence of events, the Russian military opened fire then seized three Ukrainian navy vessels in an unprovoked attack on the Black Sea last Sunday. In the melee, several Ukrainian sailors were wounded and 24 captured. Moscow followed up this flagrant act of war by parading the sailors on Russian television to give clearly coerced confessions of guilt.
This attack is but the latest escalation in the ongoing Russian war against Ukraine that has been churning since 2014. It’s also the first great test for the Trump administration regarding Russia and one that will have lasting consequences on the future of Europe and the world. . .
The war in Ukraine began in 2014 after Russian special forces seized Crimea. The tactic Moscow used is what I dubbed, in U.S. Army publications, “the strategy of ambiguity.” Putin directed that his troops remove all symbols and anything else that would identify them as Russian soldiers.
This had the desired effect, as American journalists breathlessly reported of the ridiculously labeled “little green men” from unknown origins taking control of Crimea. President Obama and the rest of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies wrung their hands on what to do. The tactic worked––as President Obama dithered, Russia seized Crimea within a week without firing a shot in anger.
The takeover of Crimea was quickly followed by local referenda to ascertain if Crimea desired to become part of Russia––a vote, of course, that overwhelmingly supported the idea. The deal was sealed just a month after the little green men seized the country, with Putin announcing that Crimea would be annexed by Russia. (Read more from “Why Putin’s Game of Russian Roulette With Ukraine Is a Big Deal” HERE)