The fall of the corrupt and incompetent Viktor Yanukovych, after bloody riots and demonstrations has forced Putin to act, and act, he will, irrespective of the sound and fury coming from the West and especially, the USA. This is all puffery, because Obama can do very little and the feckless British and French, together with Canada are simply inconsequential. They may threaten sanctions and embargo and send "strong" messages, wag their fingers or even visit, as Harper, "he of little consequence" has done, but it is to no avail. Putin will do whatever is in the interest of Russia. He is no Yeltsin and he is brimming with confidence what with the success of Sochi and the bounty of oil and gas.
Nikita Khrushchev, who was Ukrainian and had imbibed too much vodka, had given Crimea to Ukraine in 1954, but had retained control of Sevastopol for the use of the Black Sea fleet. Ethnic Russians dominate East Ukraine and the Crimea and they will not accept to be ruled from Kiev. Already they have taken certain actions, like occupying the parliament, raising the Russian flag and even set up local militias There is also the Tatars, who have had a very hostile relation with Russia.. Only Putin can prevent a bloody civil war ( there is a lot of animosity on both sides...the Russians remember that some Ukrainians had sided with Hitler and the Nazis and Western Ukrainian have chafed under the control of Russia. The Tatars remember their forced settlement.
The USA and Britain cannot talk with any credibilty about intervention, given their recent history in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. The French and Canada less so also, given their actions in Libya and in the case of France, its forner colonies. So what is there to do? Diplomacy is the only way. Not threats. They are meaningless. No one in the West, is going to go to war for the Ukraine. Ukraine will either be split violently or some arrangement with Russia will have to be made and the Russians wiil dictate the terms.
So stop with the blusters and get down to talks with Russia. This is their backyard and it is their national interests that are at stake.
Russia has taken the Crimea without firing a shot. The locals have welcomed the Russians as saviours. The newly appointed head of the Ukrainian navy has joined the Russians. The West led by the United States continue to fulminate and threaten, but can do little. They do not want an economic war with Russia which sits on the second laggest reserves of oil and gas. So they should try to limit what the Russians do, with diplomacy. That would mean recognising Russia's concerns about its security, especially with regards to the Crimea and Eastern Ukraine. The Americans and the rest of the West have played the "game of national interests" when they attacked Iraq and Afghanistan and Libya. They failed and created a greater disaster, same as the Russians in Afghanistan, but there, they, the Russians, were confronted with military weapons, especially shoulder-fired missiles which wreaked havoc on Russian helicopters, given to them by the USA. They will not do this in the Ukraine.
The Crimea had been a part of Russia for over 300 years. The Russians had sacrificed much blood over the years, against the British the Turks and the Germans. 60% of the population are ethnic Russians; 25% ethnic Ukrainians and the rest are Tatars and others. The port of Sevastopol is crucial Russia's national security and economic interests and important pipelines run through Ukraine taking Russian oil and gas to Europe. 40% of Germany's oil come from Russiaa and 30% of Europe's gas. Germany and Britain has many trade and financial deal with Russia and will not support strong economic measures. The 28 members of NATO
are divided. So the USA has to focus on building a workable coalition. It can only be diplomatic.
Russia's concerns have to respected. The USA and the WEST have been pushing to the Russian border with NATO expansion. Russia has historically suffered with the fear of invasion ( Napolean and Hiler) and they feel threatened with NATO expansion, which started with Clinton in 1996 and a weak/drunken Yeltsin. Now Putin is pushing back
The invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan and the attack on Libya has taken away the high ground from the USA and the WEST. The French military involvement in their former African colonies exposes their hypocrisy also and the continued occupation of the West Bank and the gradual siezure of land by Israel, while the USA welcomes Netanyahu to the White House has put a lie to the contention of " territorial integrity". Double standards expose and weakens and that is why the USA and the WEST have little or no credibility. They are judged by their own actions and are found wanting.