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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Putin’s excellent Ukraine adventurism -- Capture of Crimea models past Russian operations -- By Ken Allard, The Washington Times

Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times (Illustration by Greg Groesch, The Washington Times)

Last weekend was a trip back in time for an intelligence officer who well remembers the Soviet military machine that once threatened Western Europe, particularly its ability to project power with elite airborne and naval forces.

Stay tuned: Their campaign may have only begun, since the assault-force mission is simply preparation for any follow-on attacks that may be required.

By any measure, it has been a remarkable fortnight for that new post-Soviet man, Vladimir Putin. He neatly flipped Egypt from the U.S. to the Russian orbit, won the Olympics and then executed the surprise airborne intervention that swiftly subdued Crimea.

It was unlikely that the wily KGB apparatchik was unduly troubled by his 90-minute phone call from President Obama.

Instead, the Russian leader was probably recalling one of Lenin's great teachings, equally useful in bayonet fighting and testing the mettle of your opponent: If you hit steel, then pull back. If your blade strikes only mush, then thrust forward.

There was little steel available to deter Mr. Putin. He must have savored the irony of a week that began with precipitous cuts being scheduled for the U.S. Army — and ended with Russia's stunning demonstration of what boots on the ground can actually achieve. Among other things, they produced a psychological shock wave that shook the Western alliance to its thoroughly demilitarized core.

The speed and scope of Crimean events also stunned the usual cast of correspondents and media pundits. For them, the only things more shocking than Mr. Putin's sudden transition from affable Olympic autocrat to steely-eyed Cold Warrior were the instruments of the Russian blitzkrieg.

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