“Russia will invade Ukraine, probably within the next few weeks. They will annex the Crimea. From there, if they meet no resistance from the West, they will take more of the country,”
― Tom Clancy, Command Authority (2013)
Call him clairvoyant. In the last novel he published before his death, Tom Clancy predicted that Russia would move against its former satellite states. As far as Clancy was concerned, that plot element was a no-brainer. Russia, whether under the rule of Ivan the Terrible or Vladimir Putin, wants its buffer states.
However, Clancy has a key qualifier in the line from Command Authority: “… no resistance from the West … .” So far, the sternest measures the U.S. and E.U. have hurled at Putin and his regime are halfhearted sanctions that will probably disappear once winter comes and Western Europe needs Russian oil and natural gas to stay warm. There is stern language from NATO, but there is also open war with Russian paratroopers found on Ukrainian soil and a massive military force just kilometers from the border.
But most of the Russian military moves are incremental. A little here and a little there, and soon Ivan has sliced up the whole sausage. This kind of “secret war” is part of a tactic called maskirovka. My article in today’s edition of War is Boring looks at the Russian’s recent use of maskirovka tactics and how it works to produce at least very little resistance from a distracted West.