The Kremlin insists that Russian forces are in no way involved, and that Mr. Strelkov does not even exist, at least not as a Russian operative sent to Ukraine with orders to stir up trouble. “It’s all nonsense,” President Vladimir V. Putin said Thursday during a four-hour question-and-answer session on Russian television. “There are no Russian units, special services or instructors in the east of Ukraine.” Pro-Russian activists who have seized government buildings in at least 10 towns across eastern Ukraine also deny getting help from professional Russian soldiers or intelligence agents.
But masking the identity of its forces, and clouding the possibilities for international denunciation, is a central part of the Russian strategy, developed over years of conflict in the former Soviet sphere, Ukrainian and American officials say.
And now there’s evidence to back this claim up.
So, uh, when do we start to get seriously worried about this thing?