As for the Crimea: Did anyone seriously think that Vladimir Putin would let the main port of Russia’s Black Sea fleet fall into unfriendly hands? Russia will take the Crimea, and the strategic consequences will be nil. We couldn’t have a strategic confrontation if we wanted it. How would we get troops or ships into the Black Sea area in the first place in order to have a confrontation? Perhaps the Belgiums will send in their army instead. I suppose we need to denounce the Russians for violating Ukraine’s territorial integrity.
What should we do (or what should we have done)? It’s obvious that the Ukrainians have no faith in their democratic institutions, having staged a coup against a democratically elected president. In that case, the next step is constitutional reform. The existing system has broken down and the people should choose a new one. But constitutional reform has to take into account the prospect of partition. Lviv and Sevastopol have about as much in common as, say, Bogota and Montreal. The West should encourage the Ukrainians to amend their democratic institutions in order to achieve a national consensus, which might mean a different sort of nation. If Crimea, for example, were to vote for partition, why object? If it voted against partition, that would put Putin on the spot. The West would have come off better by getting in front of the events rather than chasing them.