It started a few months ago, with protest marches and demonstrations in Kiev after Ukrainian President Yanukovich decided to scrap a decision made by the Rada, that country's Parliament, to align the country a bit more closely to the West. Instead, Yanukovich decided that his country lay with his principal source of support - the largely ethnic Russian eastern part of the country, and Mother Russia herself.
This naturally gratified President Putin, I suppose; Volodya has been a big advocate of blocking what he perceives as encroachments by the West (NATO, the EU and the US) so close to the Russian Federation's borders. Russia, since the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, has had no compunction about taking steps to protect what it calls the "Near Abroad" and considers its personal sphere of influence. Examples of this attitude include the brief incursion in support of ethnic Russians in Estonia and the Russo-Georgian Conflict in 2008.
The protests in Kiev got bloodier, as we all know, and culminated with the Ukrainian military refusing to support Yanukovich. He fled the country (to Russia, imagine that), and things have started to go downhill faster than an Olympic luge entrant.
During the final set of protests cities such as Lvov and the western part of Ukraine stated that they were prepared to secede; the provincial governor of the Crimea said he was prepared to do the same. The eastern part of Ukraine and the Crimea have an ethnic Russian population.
Care to guess?
Soldiers in unmarked Russian uniforms appeared and took over government buildings in Sevastopol and Simferopol. That was the start. The Russian Fleet has apparently begun to sortie, and an unnamed source has stated (no confirmation) that the Russian Navy has called on Ukrainian forces in Crimea to surrender. The Ukrainian Navy C-in-C defected, and was denounced as a traitor when he attempted to persuade other officers to join him. The Russians have 150,000 troops undergoing 'maneuvers' along the border, and the Ukrainians are mobilizing and saying that a war is imminent - a war the Russians will win, in my estimation; the Russians are not known for either a feline touch or doing things by halves.
So. What's the West up to?
Right now the West is contemplating a certain set of sanctions (including on restricting travel, which will annoy Putin's rich oligarchic power base; the Boyars like to go to Paris), along with steps to isolate Russia (like cutting off talks to set up the G8 meeting in Sochi).
Military action? Not no, but fuck no.
Despite the cracked screeching of Senator John "I Yell at Clouds!" McCain (R-Senility), Sarah Palin, and the Criminally Blood-stained Oliver Fucking North, the United States is not contemplating any form of military action. We don't have a large enough force in Europe to contest an invasion of Ukraine, being still bound up in Afghanistan. Secretary of State John Woodenhead - er, Kerry denounced Russia's actions as an invasion on 'trumped-up causes.'
The irony of that was palpable. Johnny-Mop, we invaded Iraq in 2003 based on trumped-up causes, and you voted for
that, you stupid mook. The blood of 4500 Americans stains your paws just as much as it does Dubya, Cheney, Wolfowitz and the rest - there's plenty to go around.
What message speaks the drums?