Putin Takes Crimea 2014: Grey-Zone Warfare Opens the Russia-Ukraine Conflict
Despite the author being well-known and regarded, I was initially somewhat put off by the format of this book. It forms part of Osprey’s ‘RAID’ series, which appears to favour rather attention-seeking titles like Certain death in Sierra Leoneand ‘Storming Flight 181. In combination with the use of illustrations, my initial impression was more ‘Commando Comic’ than academic work.
One should not, however, judge books by their covers. This is, in fact, a well researched, tightly focused work that treats exactly what the title suggests. While it does include several illustrations of notional scenes from the conflict, these are greatly outnumbered by copious photographs and several excellent maps. In just 78 pages, it neatly delivers an authoritative account of the seizure of Crimea, diving into details where these add explanatory value. For example, it highlights and explains the significance of the Ratnik body armour worn by the ‘Little Green Men’. Much of the book is narrative, with analysis sprinkled along the way, then consolidated in a section near the end.
I was particularly impressed by the way Galeotti brought together the various actors in Crimea – both Russian and Ukrainian . By setting each group and key individual in context, he makes it much easier to comprehend the whole, smoothing some of the distortions created by media attention.
I did ponder the publisher’s intended audience for this book. While authoritative, its size and format do not suggest it is intended to be definitive. There are undoubtedly readers who will digest this as part of the series, yet perhaps not in large numbers. I note it has already been marked down from the £15 recommended price. I’m sure NR readers would enjoy it and I recommend it for anyone wanting a very effective primer on this opening chapter of the Russo-Ukraine war. For units and teams with an interest in the subject or the area, it would be a very useful pre-deployment primer. My sense, however, is that this book will be a good addition to service libraries; I can easily see it being useful to ICSC and ACSC students.