England-Russia clashes planned by Putin.

Vladimir Putin is a master of military deception, known in Russian as Maskirovka. From the camouflaged troops that were used to annex Crimea, to Russia’s confusing policy in Syria, Putin is clearly achieving his goal of destabilizing regional politics at the expense of the West.

The clashes in Marseille, in advance of, and during, the Russian-England Euro 2016 game were not just hooligans who’d had a pint too many. This was a planned attack by Putin on the West.

There has long been a history of using football fans as recruiting ground for extremists, who can often then be used to build true paramilitary organizations, as Arkan did in the early days of the Balkan wars.

The logic is simple.

Mass brawls dominate the headlines, and lead to talks of a possible ban of England from the tournament. This perceived attack on England’s team will push enough “undecided” referendum voters into the “leave” camp. Before you know it, Britain votes to leave the EU. With Greece’s bailout on life support, and Italy’s banks the brink, a Brexit will tip Europe into instability and recession.

And what did all this chaos cost Putin? A bus load of thugs who, with all security eyes on ISIS, slipped by unnoticed. That is Maskirovka.