My article for War on the Rocks covering the Crimean incident and Russian exercises. The full piece can be found here.
There’s something afoot in the Black Sea basin. Last week Moscow accused Ukraine of attempting a terrorist attack in Crimea, alleging that a firefight took place on August 7 and 8 between a supposed team of infiltrators and border guards of the FSB, Russia’s internal security service. The details of the incident remain murky. It was clear that something had happened when Russia closed a key crossing point on the peninsula early last week, internet providersblocked web access in northern Crimea, and rumors swirled of military movements as a state of emergency was imposed by security services.
Some have rushed to judgment, claiming this is an elaborate pretext for a renewed invasion of Ukraine, but so far these fears seem out of step with the evidence we have. If Russia is preparing to escalate its involvement anywhere, it is likely in Syria – not Ukraine. The Kremlin does have something in mind though. This mini-crisis in Crimea appears to be part of a larger political game with the West over Ukraine set to unfold in the coming months.