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The Importance of Identity

11 Mar 2014

If you have been following events unfolding in Ukraine you may have noted various claims regarding the identity and origins of the armed groups currently contributing to the unrest in Crimea. Headlines are reporting that heavily armed soldiers have surrounded Ukraine's military bases in Crimea and have taken control of 11 border posts in the region. Clearly, the situation is serious. But who are these armed soldiers, and who has given them orders?

Many media outlets have reported claims that these troops are "local militias" who are wearing Russian-style fatigues because such attire is available in army shops across the former Soviet Union. Other outlets are repeating an assertion that armed men deployed to Ukraine's Crimea region are simply ''self-defense forces.''

I would like to address these claims.

Here at NATO's military headquarters we have been closely monitoring and analyzing the situation in Ukraine and have been keenly focused on these troops. After extensive review of multiple information sources we believe these are Russian military forces acting on clear orders to undermine Ukraine forces in Crimea.

This conclusion, although hastily stated by some members of the press, is based on deliberate and painstaking scrutiny of the many sources of data available to our professional military analysts. As we move forward and continue to closely monitor the situation in Ukraine, it will be with the understanding of the real identity of these forces.

The photos below are just a few examples openly available that help paint the picture.

Example #1

The following several photos show military vehicles that are currently operating in Crimea. Note the Russian military licence plates on the vehicles.

The first picture is from the Crimean town of Balaklava.






Example #2
This example is from YouTube
In this video, local journalists interviewed a soldier who admitted he was part of the Russian military. When asked why he didn’t have any insignias or symbols on his uniform, he responded that he was told not to wear them.


Example #3

The pictures below are of soldiers currently operating within Crimea. The weapons and equipment they are using certainly are not typical of ‘local militias' or ‘self-defense forces'.






"From the Cockpit"


Phil Breedlove
General, USAF
Supreme Allied Commander, Europe
Commander, U.S. European Command


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They are Russian Special Forces (SPETSNAZ) period. They are probably doing recon work and up to no good. They are probably going to do some sabotage work. These people cannot be underestimated
Posted by : Ken White - Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Please,Ukraine needs help from EU/NATO...Glory NATO/EU/USA/UKRAINE!
Posted by : nina - Thursday, April 17, 2014
General Breedlove, thank you very much for your able service to our great country and all freedom loving people in this world who do not want to live under the tyranny of a dictatorship as is Russia under Vladimir Vladimrovich. I hope you will continue to put the pressure on our President to get off the time, stop navel gazing and take some more risks vis a vis his real politik, or history will not look kindly on his administration and their legacy of endless rumination over a course of action in some of the most important ares of our foreign policy.
Posted by : Rudolf Rojas - Monday, April 14, 2014
Hi, i have been one of those unusual Americans that has liked vacationing in Crimea... i was there in Yalta this past end of October with Ukrainian friends. Everything was peaceful. There was no problems with people speaking Russian... everyone around me was speaking Russian practically. Had an idyllic time there. There was no justification for what Putin did... Russian speakers there were under no threat.

It is truly strange how this has split my Ukrainian friends. Some (from Sevastopol and with ties to Russian navy) think that Russia is going to turn Crimea into a sort of paradise. Others from the central part of Ukraine are incredibly dismayed at the behavior of Russia. Even here in my local Orthodox Church here the people don't want to talk about it... as it has split lots of relationships.

In any case the Russians aren't fooling anyone. i am not normally in favor of interventionism, but i feel that the USA has really let Ukraine down when it comes to helping. Putin is a thug and bully and only understands force... and the sooner the USA wakes up to that and organizes a genuine effort to help Ukraine defend herself, the better off the world will be.

PS: i won't be going back to vacation Crimea this next summer unfortunately :(((( i have the feeling that the Russians have destroyed their tourist seasons for a long time to come.
Posted by : Peter - Monday, April 14, 2014
Really? they are wearing Russian uniforms, gear, and carrying Russian weapons. They're driving Russian troop carriers, Armour vehicles and light tanks with Russian license plates. They also have Russian built radios and communicating in Russian. I don't think they're Russian at all.
Actually, they're Crimean self-defense forces and local militias, who purchased all their uniforms, weapons and vehicles with Russian rubles at Putin's Army and Navy Store near the Kremlin. Auf-Wiedersehen!
Posted by : SSG George Rivera - Thursday, March 13, 2014
Europe,United States,and the rest of world need to put a stop to this bullying from Russia,END PERIOD!
Posted by : Ernest Geering - Wednesday, March 12, 2014
It's ironic for Gen. Breedlove to claim that members of the press "hastily" came to the correct conclusion that these armed elements in Crimea are Russian soldiers, when the very sources that he's listed are from.. you guessed it.. the press. It's worth mentioning that the first reports of Russian soldiers in Crimea came from the local population and the local press, not NATO, and that these soldiers were being asked questions along the lines of "Where are you boys from?" But I digress, waiting for the eventual analysis of professional military analysts was the solid evidence needed. The assertion that a person (LN, tourist, press, etc.) actually in Crimea speaking to one of these Russian soldiers on camera is somehow "hastily" forming a conclusion is silly... unless "hastily" is the new "timely."
- Michael Silverado, I.A.
Posted by : Michael Silverado - Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Local militias are mostly recognized by the various armament and the use vehicles. This is not the case in the Crimea area, as seen on the photographs. In accordance with Russian (Sowjet) doctrine, special groups without markings of any kind, will be deployed unexpectedly at strategic points, before major force will be used. Noticing the uniformity in clothing and weaponry, this groups are on Ukrainian territory and are called SPETSNAZ.
Posted by : L. Gabee - Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Please come and defend us, Ukraine needs help from EU / NATO...
Posted by : Mark - Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Some people are saying now that they are Russian Private Military Contractors.
Posted by : AJ - Wednesday, March 12, 2014