Right. I think the next question is how far Putin is prepared to go - just taking over Crimea, or trying to force the creation of a separate republic there which would become a de facto Russian fiefdom, doesn't sound like a very stable setup in the long run. And many Russians see Ukraine as historically part of Russia anyway. Kiev is where some of the first Russian princedoms emerged, and where christianity entered Russia.
I don't know, they've been playing the de facto Russian fiefdoms along the Georgian border for a good five years now. Putin seems rather happy to let 'ugly' differences drag on where it suits him. Such as Syria, too, though it's a different level of ugly.
Though Crimea is getting a little more in Europe's face perhaps. And there just might be some worry that if it becomes a pattern, what else
might Putin want? After all, the guy has kind of been saying bring back the Soviet Union, yes?? (More influence in the Baltics, perhaps??) Actually I have no idea, really. I doubt many of the other states bordering Russia can become this embattled right away. But then, it's hard to keep anywhere completely stable forever in today's highly manipulated and generally messed up global economy too!
I'm no expert, but am gathering Ukraine really has a lot of division going on already. There are lots of Russians in the east, there are Tartars mixed into the Crimea, there are people with ethnic ties to I think, Eastern Europe in the west now at least... It's kind of hard for me to imagine how this is all going to hold together under pressure.
Everyone keeps fussing about the economics in the papers. Seems to me that whenever there really is political will, debt is not all that huge of an issue. When there isn't, it suddenly becomes everything. I'm not quite as sure about the EU, but if the US really, and I mean really
wanted to draw a "line" somewhere, it would deploy first (or loan money first, as the case may be) and pay later like most everything else it does. Supposedly there are long-term limits to all that, but it hardly stops the military from sending fleets around the world or Washington discussing debt relief for Egypt (whether yes or no, they did wave that around as if it might be possible, and that is one big sum).
A couple points I've passed that I wonder about... Europe may want Russian gas but could it find alternative sources? (As I recall, the Russian providers have not always been exactly smooth in keeping prices predictable anyway. Maybe more smooth in changing them every time they didn't like some European policy. And I believe there have been some times of threatened shutoff or delays before.)
Also: If Ukraine is not going to just give in and lose territory, one thing it might do is shut off the Russian pipelines west itself? Moscow might see that as a provocation, but a lot of this is still psychological brinkmanship and taking on Kiev would also mean a larger set of unknowns.
Or they might be just as happy to try to strike deals with China and let the west pay for sorting out the economic costs of replacing Russian supplies after all. Though I'm not sure how nice a deal Moscow could get. When it came to contracts for oilfield exploitation
at least, some Kazakhs for instance feel China has pretty much robbed them of the lion's share of profit.
I also passed some mumbling that Poland might feel threatened if the Russian military moves into western Ukraine. Not sure if the West is up to actually seeing Poland as something more substantial than a friendly buffer zone yet? Hmm. Now if only the place had more highlands...