A so-called ‘limited operation’ could be enacted by Russia instead of a full-blown invasion.
This could come in a number of different ways: from cyber attacks to psychological warfare, as well as targeted attacks on regions in Ukraine.
Such an operation would see Russia implement disinformation drives and propaganda, which could soften Ukraine to a later invasion.
Only earlier this month, a major cyberattack on Ukrainian government facilities was blamed on Belarusian hackers believed to be acting with Russian support.
It would spare Russia the long-term cost and damage to the Kremlin’s reputation within Russia.
What’s more, Russia has scaled this sort of attack before in 2008, when a Georgian attack on the breakaway province of South Ossetia prompted a swift and huge Russian attack which quickly defeated the Georgian army and briefly occupied much of the country.
However, Moscow’s goals of forcing Ukraine out of its alliances with NATO outstrip the effects of a limited operation, which would have considerably less staying power.