It may look spontaneous to outsiders, but Russian President Vladimir Putin knows exactly what he is doing in Ukraine—and his strategy is actually quite calculated and clever, says defense expert Janine Davidson.

Davidson is a senior fellow at the American Council on Foreign Relations.

“He's using the same strategy he used in Crimea, and that seemed to work,” says Davidson to Kevin Newman Live. “All you need to do is look at the equipment, their professionalism, and it's pretty clear these ‘militants’ are not from Ukraine.”

Skip ahead to the 4-minute mark of the video above to see our full interview with Davidson.

Davidson is referring to the groups of “pro-Russian militants”—as the media has often referred to them—who have appeared in droves throughout eastern Ukraine. Kiev and the West have accused Putin of having a hand in the takeover of government buildings in eastern Ukraine, a charge which he has denied.

With this deniability, Davidson says Putin can argue Russia is not in any position to order these pro-Russian factions to leave, despite any agreement the nations might reach (and in fact did reach earlier today).

“Even though there are these suspiciously well-trained militants in Ukraine, Putin can still somehow claim plausible deniability,” says Davidson.

She cited an example of these pro-Russian militants storming what they thought was a government building in eastern Ukraine. It turned out to be a movie theatre.

“You would think that Ukrainians would know the difference,” she says.

Despite the confusion and tension in Ukraine, this is actually all part of a calculated campaign on Putin’s part.

“[Putin] wants it to look spontaneous,” says Davidson. “If he simply rolled in tanks, it would be too sloppy, and draw unwanted attention. He would rather let the situation get unstable from the inside, because the more he does, the more he looks like a peacekeeper.”