The West tried to assuage Russia, promising to never place nukes or standing armies in any new member states, but what Russia really wanted were assurances that NATO would never seek to incorporate any former Soviet Republics into its organization. The Russia-NATO Founding Act, though passed by both sides on May 27, 1997, fell a bit short in this regard. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, NATO has grown by 13 new countries. Bush tried to incorporate Georgia in 2008. Today, it's Ukraine's turn to at the center of the tug of war.
Another major point of contention in all of this is that President Viktor F. Yanukovych was elected democratically by the Ukrainian voters. He was, and still is, the legitimate leader of Ukraine. Following the coup d'etat supported by the West, Parliamentary Speaker Aleksandr Turchinov has been given the title of President of Ukraine. The people of Ukraine had no vote in this decision. When the candidates of the West don't win via democratic elections, the West often forces its way into power through coup d'etats a la Cuba, 1952, Iran, 1953; Guatemala, 1954; South Vietnam, 1963; and Chile, 1973, for example. The Ukraine appears to be merely the most recent example of this.
One final point involves the West's and especially America's desire to surround Russia with weapons. President Bush tried for years to get missiles into Poland and the Czech Republic in order to "protect Europe from Iran." This idea played well in the US where knowledge of reality around the world barely exists. Unfortunately, the rest of the world knew very well that there was never any threat from Iran and that these missiles were primarily to be used to intimidate Russia using former Warsaw Pact nations. Indeed, as proof that this was the real intention, when Russia proposed such a system to be set up in Russia at a point far closer to Iran, the US was not interested.
In 2008, Georgia invaded the semiautonomous region of South Ossetia. Over a thousand people were killed. It was done to provoke Russia into a conflict with Georgia where the US would be seen as a hero for helping out the Georgian government and supplying it with weapons aimed at Moscow to "protect" the Georgians. In the US MSM, this information was forbidden. Fox News, unfortunately, interviewed a Californian family that was there at the beginning who were not told to lie for the TV. They were summarily cut off when they started praising Russian troops for saving them from the Georgian military's unprovoked attack. It became obvious there what the US and Georgia were intending and Bush eventually had to give up his military desire.
WHAT ABOUT BUSINESS IMPLICATIONS?
There are always many business implications in these types of conflicts. One early bell-weather meter has always been the world's stock markets. When major companies become skittish about world events, they get out in a hurry. Dow Jones crossed the 16,000 barrier for the first time ever on November 21, 2013, the first day of the conflict. On March 20, 2014, it was at 16,331. The Dax (Germany), the CAC (France), the Nikkei (Japan), and the FTSE (UK), all show similar growth. Clearly, the world's business community is none too shaken with these "cataclysmic" events.
Goldman Sachs is now going long on the Russian Ruble. In a recent article in Bloomberg, Goldman Sachs sees nothing but sunshine and rose buds for the Russian currency going forward (my words). Even after Putin's takeover of Crimea, Goldman says that Russia will come out of this smelling like a ... well, you get the idea.
Perhaps the largest deal that will ensure that there will be no long-term hostilities between the US and Russia is the Rosneft-Exxon exploration deal worth around $500 billion. Starting in the Kara Sea and quickly moving to Alaska, this deal will see the first Arctic drilling ever. They've cornered the first "Black Gold Rush" of the 21st century. These are the #1 and #2 largest oil companies in the world.
WHAT TO TAKE AWAY FROM THIS ARTICLE
The West, and especially Americans, are playing "Crimea River" (pun intended) over the events in the Ukraine. There is evidence pointing to a planned overthrow in the November-initiated putsch to oust President Viktor Yanukovych. The idea was to strong-arm the Ukrainians into accepting NATO, EU, and IMF loans that would have crippled the poor and antagonized Russia. The inclusion of neo-nazi organizations into the subsequent p arliamentary mix only further heightens the strain on all sides. This will become a huge sore spot for the West going forward, trust me.
Russia, in recent years, has become very cash healthy, a lot of it in foreign reserves (read dollars). It's a member of BRICS and has a rather nicely growing economy. If it wanted, it could conceivably join with China to make American growth slow to a crawl. It could more easily do the same to Europe, especially with its oil. In any case, American businesses are too heavily invested with Russian counterparts for any serious hostilities to ensue.
In other words, this is really much ado about nothing. The American far right wants WWIII and the use of nuclear weapons. That won't happen. The ultraconservatives in Russia want full annexation of Ukraine, Georgia, and other sore spots for Russia. That idea is equally null and void. There will be showy sanctions on both sides for a while, but billionaire companies hate for economies to tank for a long time, especially when there's a ton of money to be made. Capitalism will prevail and the extremists on both sides will move on eventually and forget the whole thing.
In the interim, enjoy the dog-and-pony show.
It is noteworthy here as well to point out that the US has NEVER attacked a nation that had nuclear capabilities. Russia is the most prominent member of that group. There is absolutely nothing to suggest any change in that basic rule.