There are a number of people in military clothing but no unit or national insignia running around the Ukraine and interfering with public order. Everybody has jumped to the conclusion that they're Russian military operating under a fiction. What if they weren't?
Would we have a better result in the Ukraine if we formally believed Vladimir Putin and treated these people like they weren't part of the Russian army? What if, miracle of miracles, he isn't actually lying? If they were mercenaries operating under the direction of non-state forces, how would their actions look different? If a Russian oligarch spent some of his pile to hire Russian veterans and take Crimea like Leopold II took the Congo Free State, what would our obligation be? Wouldn't air cover and drone operations to relieve besieged Ukrainian military bases from a private army be a treaty obligation?
Russia should not be sending their military out of the country when they're out of uniform. But they seem to be counting on us calling them liars and treating them as if they were Russian troops anyway. Why do they deserve that consideration?