first published on June 19, 2016 by Will
Russian naval infantry of the 810th Separate Brigade, Black Sea Fleet conduct a training exercise in their recently annexed Crimea, in which an amphibious assault drill evolves into a dismounted walk and shoot exercise.
Realistically, Ukraine is never getting Crimea back from Russia. Putin acted quick, took what he wanted, and pushed the war elsewhere, diverting the focus from Crimea and locking it in as his own. Both NATO and non-NATO eastern European states have identified the threat and are realizing that if Russia wanted to, they could snatch them up, and nothing could be done about it in time to save them.
By successfully annexing part of Ukraine at the wrist-slap cost of sanctions and a few dead patriots, Putin shows that he is smart and well calculated in his actions. However, it also shows he is a gambler and a risk taker. Will he roll the dice on a NATO member Baltic State and call the West’s bluff?
That may sound crazy and paranoid, but these annexation attempts will not be flat out military invasions… at first. In fact, many of the operations have already started, but not in the way that you would think. Russia is currently picking at ethnic tensions through physical infiltrators as well as cyber trolls. The Baltic States have considerable “ethnic” Russian-speaking populations. Much like in the Ukraine, Russia will incite ethnic strife and continue to fan the flames until riots break out and there appears to be some breaking point. At that time, Putin “…will do everything possible to defend the rights and interests (of ethnic Russian minorities)… wherever they live.”
Finally, NATO is inflating troop numbers, rotating in more heavy armor units, and escalating training exercises with NATO and NATO-friendly states in the region. Hopefully it’s not too little, too late.