The Crimea is Russia's to Keep in Putin's Land Grab
Under the fraudulent claims of a coup-like seizure of the former Ukrainian government, with its former president fleeing to Russia leaving opulent living quarters (his mansion has a $30 million dollar chandelier) Russia used armed intervention in the Crimea.
As the unrest in the Ukraine worried Russia in the days before, Putin was never happy with the Ukraine's independence from Russia in 1994, be continued to look at it as part of Russia. This is much like a parent having issues of letting their adult kids leave home or off to college. Ukraine was still a possession of Russia many thought. Putin did not like the fact that the Ukraine was leaning towards the West, so Putin tried economic incentives to influence them. After some resistance, the Ukraine agreed to lean towards Russia. But that is when the public went bezerk and demanded changes for weeks during the last week of the Olympics.
Putin does not think the current government is legitimate. Putin, a trained attorney, argues his case in the public forum, claiming because the Ukraine is not legitimate, Russia is threatened and Russia has secured the Crimea, its only warm water port for its navy. As time went on, he sent more and more armed Russian soldiers there without a shot being fired and no opposition. The Ukrainian navy was trapped when Russia sank a ship to block passage. Their troops there, surrounded and Russia demanded their surrender or else.
Meanwhile, like in 1938, when Hitler grabbed parts of Czechoslovakia, the Western powers can only agree to disagree with Putin. They provide cheap talk and rhetoric about how illegitimate Putin's actions are, threat sanctions that will boomerang back upon them, fly some F-16's to Poland, and offer $1 billion in aid (when the Ukraine needs $35 billion). Meanwhile, what does Putin do?
He shrugs it all off. Sends up to 30,000 Russian troops to secure the Crimea. Creates a new border between the Ukraine and Crimea using land mines and armor units at the few crossing points into the peninsula. The Ukrainian troops in their bases that are surrounded are pleading for food and supplies. In other words, Russian troops are starving them out simply by waiting. Putin is winning and will win by doing nothing more. He has taken the Crimea. The referendum will no doubt pass allowing Russia to annex this area, despite how the world states it is "illegal".
Russia isolated? Really-false bravado. Putin and Russia is one of the world's largest natural gas and oil areas. The trade with the US is nil regarding this because America has its own large reserves, but Europe does need the resources from Russia, especially Germany, which receives much of their natural gas needs from them. Putin can simply stop it. China is remaining very muted about this because they need Russian gas and oil and their weapons. Whatever the EU does to punish Russia will boomerang onto them, so the EU is most hesitant in doing too much to provoke Putin.
So, President Obama is bluffing. Putin has called his bluff by ignoring him and continuing to reinforce Russia's hand. Barring some sort of military action, which is so unlikely, Putin has done what he wanted. Sanctions worked with Iran, but Russia can continue with or without sanctions from the West.
Crimea is now Russian. What is next? Eastern Ukraine? All of Ukraine? If either were to happen, would the West intervene militarily or just give it lip service? Idle threats? But for sure, Putin does not want Ukraine to be part of NATO, and that would be a real threat in Putin's eyes.