Austin Bay

Ukraine's fledgling government deserves credit for clarity. It has no trouble referring to Russia's latest despot, Czar-Commissar Vladimir and his army as their enemy. The Ukrainians know they have suffered an invasion.

As this column is written, there have been no reports of lethal gun battles (fire) between Russian invaders and Ukrainian units. Because of successful Russian operational maneuver, leveraging surprise, fire (so far) has been limited to a display of the Russian invaders' capability to kill -- fire demonstrations.

For example, the Wall Street Journal reported that Russian soldiers "fired warning shots over the heads of unarmed Ukrainian soldiers" at the Balbek air base in Crimea. The Ukrainians were trying "to go to work" despite the fact that the Russians had captured the installation. The Russians agreed to let the Ukrainians enter the base as long as they remained unarmed.

Is this Twilight Zone warfare, a strange limbo between potential combat and "kinetic action"?

No, not really. Combat maneuver has occurred, folks. The Wall Street Journal report depicts a Russian operational victory won by maneuver. The Russians took the air base and did so without the political downside of videos of dead Ukrainians going viral on the Internet.

Balbek is a major Ukrainian Air Force base. Or it was. As a political and military fact on the ground, Balbek is now in Russian hands. For that matter, so is most of Crimea.

Austin Bay

Austin Bay is the author of three novels. His third novel, The Wrong Side of Brightness, was published by Putnam/Jove in June 2003. He has also co-authored four non-fiction books, to include A Quick and Dirty Guide to War: Third Edition (with James Dunnigan, Morrow, 1996).
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