Nathan Jennings et al. The US Army is wrong on future war. // Modern War Institute @ West Point
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4. Limited Fait Accompli.
The strengthening of positional advantages since 1945 has empowered belligerent powers to occasionally execute sudden territorial acquisitions. These actions, especially when conducted in areas contiguous to nuclear-protected borders, are based on calculations that rivals will decide the cost to reverse the outcome is not worth the required diplomatic capital or military resources. Because most fait accompi “land grabs” pursue limited aims rather than absolute or continental objectives, aggressors have learned that they can seize adjacent territory without provoking a major counter-intervention and then weather the subsequent political controversy.
The success of Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 from Ukraine perfectly illustrates the dilemma created by fait accompli actions. Moscow’s surprise offensive with synchronized commando, naval, and limited conventional forces to neutralize the Ukrainian military and empower friendly leaders on the peninsula compelled a rapid capitulation and acquiescence by Kiev. The subsequent NATO response proved ineffectual as Russia consolidated its gains and explicitly threatened a nuclear response if Western forces intervened.