The annexation of Crimea did not exactly put Russia's military through the races, but it gave the Russian Defense Ministry a neat recruitment tool while pleasing its commander in chief.
In early March, just as Russia began its military occupation of Crimea, a strange series of billboards began appearing on bus stops in Moscow. They were military recruitment posters from the Russian Ministry of Defense, and they showed a soldier dressed exactly like the troops who were occupying Crimea – same green uniform, same helmets, same pattern of camouflage, same lack of insignia – standing in front of a landscape that had an odd resemblance to the Crimean coastline. For some passersby it was enough to do a double take. Hadn’t President Vladimir Putin just denied sending any Russian troops to Crimea at all?