StrategyPage reports on Vladimir Putin’s own very light brigade in Crimea:
Apparently several hundred members of the GRU 45th Spetsnaz Regiment were then sent in, disguised as civilians, to create a “popular uprising” that would enable Russia to annex Crimea. Some of the uniformed men who then took control of Crimea were apparently hired, pro-Russia, locals, but the core of this “local militia” are men with obvious military training and who have been using those skills recently. These were the spetsnaz men and they were obviously in charge. Nearly 60 percent of Crimeans are Russian and GRU has probably been recruiting for years. Some of these locals admitted that money changed hands and they were glad to be part of the effort that returned control of Crimea to Mother Russia. When you use armed amateurs you have to expect this sort of thing and these comments did not sidetrack the takeover plan. The armed men were obviously briefed and most would not talk to reporters or even let journalists get close. But a few of these guys just could not resist a reporter with a camera crew looking for a few snappy comments for the evening news. Some of the anonymous armed men may be civilian contractors (which Russia exports to some parts of the world) and some were just pro-Russian veterans willing to take a gun and endure a bit of risk.
How many of these guys have since moved on to the Donbas?