The situation in Ukraine is dire but something about the reported circumstances has been bugging me and since I haven't seen what's been bugging me mentioned anywhere else - I thought I'd get it off my chest here.
First you had the Sochi Winter Olympics on which Vladimir Putin and the Russians spent a reported $51 billion. You heard on how corrupt the process and how shoddy the workmanship was. Jokes were made about how the Russians couldn't even manage to build a decent Potemkin village these days. You also heard some rumblings out of Moscow on how that $51 billion could have been better spent on the struggling Russian people instead of an ego showcase for Putin. Keeping in mind how much control Putin exerts over the media - hearing these grumblings is mildly extraordinary.
Then you had the rapid succession of the Ukraine protests, the murder of protesters by government snipers and then the cowardly running away by and fall of the Yanukovych government. Putin's response was to withdraw $15 billion of support pledged to the Ukraine government and then the securing of the area around the Russian naval base in Sevastopol followed by the military annexation of the Crimea.
My immediate thought on all of this was that it was the warm water naval base at Sevastopol was the key to the events. Lost in the shuffle was the $15 billion in aid the Russians pulled back. What if that was equally important to the situation? What if there was never any $15 billion? What if it was a phony paper deal that was designed to line the pockets of Yanukovych and his cronies and give Russia a lease on the Sevastopol base and the Ukrainian energy deposits? A new government would have seen through the phony deal right away so Putin pulled it.
Since Russia has to pay the army anyway - Putin figures it's cheaper to just take Sevastopol and "free" Crimea under force of arms. And while he's there why not "liberate" the rest of the Ukraine with energy deposits. The Russian economy is dependent upon energy. What if the Russian economy is in such bad shape that Putin is forced into doing what he's been doing because the country is broke?
That's scarier than the alternative that Putin is a bully megalomaniac.
These maps show where the ethnic Russians are and just as importantly where the energy deposits are in Ukraine.
Looking back Uraine made a mistake by giving up all of its nukes.