Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Meaning of Russia's Military Campaign Against Ukraine

Moscow has broken the trust that many worked long to build. Now NATO must adapt to this new security threat.

By Phil Breedlove, WSJ
July 16, 2014 7:06 p.m. ET

In just the past few months Russia has managed to use its military, political and economic forces to fundamentally destabilize a European nation and change internationally recognized borders by illegally annexing Crimea. In that short time, this new chapter in Russian policy has become a very unwelcome part of Europe's 21st-century security landscape. Not to belabor the obvious, but the sudden shift carries significant implications for the future and seriously challenges how Europe has developed its stability and security since the end of the Cold War.

Let's be clear, Russia's military actions in and around Ukraine have not been, and are not now, defensive in nature. Russia's military operation against Crimea relied on pre-deployed regular and covert forces and unbadged "little green men" conducting unconventional warfare as well as cyberattacks and significant information-warfare activity, using conventional media and the Internet to spread its propaganda. This is a 21st-century offensive employing 21st-century tools for strategic deception and calculated ambiguity to achieve Moscow's political goals.

Russia's military actions inside and along Ukraine's border exceed any definition of "defensive" and part with any reasonable understanding of what is militarily required to secure the border. The movement and positioning of Russian forces is also well beyond anything that could be called routine training. Their military actions, however, do allow Moscow to shape the crisis, by putting pressure on Ukrainian authorities at all levels, and shielding (by providing a cover story for) Russia's financial and military support to separatists. All the while, Moscow retains other larger-scale military options for action against Ukraine even as it provides life support to the continuing separatist movement inside Ukraine, with Russian money and propaganda helping to subvert authorities in Kiev. This, of course, leads to an unstable Ukraine, which in turn weakens European stability.

(More here.)

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