Map of Ukraine
With the people in Crimea set to vote Sunday on the referendum to join the Russian Federation or remain within Ukraine-and all but certain to join the former- lets call it a fait accompli especially with the majority in Crimea being ethnic Russian.
Reading the American corporate media basically accusing Vladimir Putin and the Russians of resistance to negotiate with the current Ukrainian government in Kiev-which the Russians see as illegitimate coming only as a result of the coup of President Viktor Yanukovych who they still recognize as the legitimately elected leader of Ukraine-is a non starter considering the Russians are fully aware of the coup being a U.S. conspired attempt to successfully seat their man Arseniy Yatsenyuk as the acting Ukrainian prime minister who the Russians refuse to recognize as the legitimate elected leader of Ukraine. So negotiations are at a standstill.
Then there's the usual talk of sanctions against the Russians now focusing on the Russian oligarchs that have financial assets in the west and could be hurt financially if the U.S. and the west carry out the threat of sanctions. But this too is a non starter. Putin warned them after returning to power in 2012 that they should bring their financial interests back to Russia saying if there was a confrontation with the west they could lose.
Besides that, the oligarchs are not within Putin's inner circle and have little influence in his decision making. More significantly, the Russian people overwhelmingly support Putin and his move to support Crimea's return as part of Russia.
And let's remember, sanctions are basically an American inspired idea- think Iran- but in this case Europe and the EU- despite mouthing their support for sanctions- are tepid on the idea considering their need for Russian natural gas, which becomes the equalizer, so the threat of sanctions is a muted one.
Let's just say, the west is hardly in a position to issue ultimatums to Russia and Putin knows it.
Diplomacy will eventually come into play to resolve the crisis in Ukraine, but for now it's nothing more than "shadow boxing" diplomacy.
A larger question is what is happening in eastern and southern Ukraine with a majority of ethnic Russians living there.
There have been many protests and demonstrations in the cities of Donetsk, Luhansk, and Kharkiv located in far eastern Ukraine by ethnic Russians also wanting referendums to vote on seceding from Ukraine and joining Russia.
As I have written earlier on these pages, "Ultimately, The Breakup and Partition of Ukraine May Be the Only Viable Solution to Ending the Crisis", OPEDNEWS, March 3, 2014, the actual breakup of Ukraine may occur under ethnic guidelines with Ukraine west of the Dniepr River becoming the new geographic area of Ukraine as a part of Europe- as is their want- while the area south and east of the Dniepr- with a majority of ethnic Russians- voting to join the Russian Federation.
All the talk in the west is maintaining the territorial integrity of Ukraine which ignores the ethnic realities on the ground.
To digress, one of the consequences that came with the end of the cold war was the stirring of ethnic and sectarian populations rebelling against their government overseers and their push for independence-think of the breakup of Yugoslavia in 1990's- which was previously held in check and repressed during the cold war. Also in Europe, Czechoslovakia split into the Czech Republic with the eastern half becoming Slovakia. Russia is still contending with the Republic of Chechnya which remains tenuously within the Russian Federation after two wars against separatists in the 1990's, yet ethnic Chechens ' still clamor for secession from Russia.
Also ethnic and sectarian divisions have occurred in Africa with Sudan partitioned with South Sudan becoming independent. Clamoring for independence is occurring the Catalonian region of Spain, Scotland is wanting separation from the English dominated Great Britain, French speaking Quebec wanting separation from English speaking Canada. On and on it goes.
In Iraq we're seeing the sectarian divisions between the Sunni's and the Shiites all but breaking up the country with radical Sunni jihadists returning to the country to conduct suicide bombings while the Shiite led government continues to exclude and repress the indigenous Iraqi Sunni minority- albeit a direct result of the invasion and occupation by the U.S. which was the catalyst that unleashed the sectarian divisions in the country.