Friday, February 28, 2014


Good grief. Did Russian Spetsnaz just seize Crimea airports?

Because that's what this looks like:

Armed men took control of two airports in the Crimea region on Friday in what Ukraine's government described as an invasion and occupation by Russian forces, raising tension between Moscow and the West.

Russia's Black Sea fleet, which is based in the region, denied its forces were involved in seizing one of the airports, Interfax news agency reported, while a supporter described the group at the other site merely as Crimean militiamen.

They took a military airport near the Sevastopol naval base and a civilian airport.

Some don't carry their weapons like ordinary joes, if you ask me.

I'd like to add that the Spetsnaz would not be part of the Black Sea Fleet, and so the denial irrelevant.

I did say that I'd fly in paratroopers to reinforce the base if I was invading. If it is an invasion, we'll know soon. You follow up such a move with the big transports pretty quickly.

UPDATE: I stand corrected. The Black Sea Fleet apparently has a Spetsnaz unit.

Militias seem to be involved by their looks. But Russian Spetsnaz could be leading them. Our special forces specialize with working with indigenous forces, after all. Russia's would, too, I imagine.

Or this could be just locals acting on their own. If this is a set up for an invasion, we'll know quickly.

UPDATE: Live blog says Ukrainians regained control of airports. Also, that men had Spetsnaz uniforms consistent with navy units. This could be ex-Spetsnaz putting on their old uniforms and taking their own initiative.

Given that the airborne troops didn't quickly flow in, this seems likely. So no invasion, it seems.

UPDATE: Our intelligence people don't think Russia is planning an invasion.

Define "invasion" please. I will say that the figure of 150,000 Russian troops massed in exercises is misleading. That includes forces from the Ukrainian border to the Barents Sea and includes naval and air forces. I don't know how many ground troops are present.

But this wouldn't include troops preparing in the central region able to move toward Ukraine. Nor would it include southern district troops already on high readiness status from war in the Caucasus and the Winter Olympics security operations.

I don't think Russia could occupy all of Ukraine. But Russia could grab chunks in the east and in Crimea. Does that count as an "invasion" in our intelligence agencies?

And one more question: do the Russians evaluate the issue the same way our intelligence analysts do?