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Defence University Director: Hunt for “little green men” is on again

Torsti Sirén says it is clear that Russian special forces are mobilized in eastern Ukraine. Director of the Department of Strategic and Defence Studies at the Finnish National Defence University, Sirén says Russia’s ultimate goal is to bring eastern and possibly even southern Ukraine closer to Russia – in one form or another.

Soldiers in green unmarked uniforms mobilize outside the Crimean city of Simferopol on March 3. Image: Aleksei Furman / EPA

Lieutenant Colonel Sirén likens the situation in East Ukraine today to the events in March in Crimea, considering it likely that Russian special forces are on the move in the eastern part of the country.

“There could very well be Russians there. The hunt for the “little green men” is on again, just like in Crimea. Just who exactly are these troops that are taking over the government buildings and police stations?” Sirén asked in an Yle interview on Sunday.

In his opinion, data received from Slavyansk suggests that it is clear that troops equipped with at least proper military training are involved.

“You could once again speculate over who these green men are, but the situation in Crimea was the same. When all was said and done, it was revealed that they were Russians,” said Sirén.

Will East Ukraine have the same fate as Crimea?

“An analogy could certainly be made. Seize some government buildings and key locations and see what the Ukrainian government will do. When the government does not firmly respond, activities can be brought up a notch and similar acts can be perpetrated, stirring up people's sympathies with barricades or propaganda - to make people want to join with Russia.”

Director of the National Defence University Torsti Sirén believes that Russia is trying to generate a crisis in East Ukraine in order to have a reason to intervene.  

“The final goal may now be to push eastern Ukraine and possibly even southern Ukraine to become self-governing regions that are closer to Russia. Then, after a period, they would physically join with Russia to provide a land link between Crimea and Russia. At the same time, Ukraine would be forced to relinquish its sea areas.”

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