By these developments Europe has come closest to a major land war for the first time since the fall of the Berlin Wall, with shades now of a return to the Cold War, and of Russia set against the West. Suffice to say that is a hugely dangerous scenario with potential global impact.
I think most people, including myself, expected a very significant Russian reaction to the fall of the Yanukovych regime in Ukraine, but I think the consensus was that this would primarily be in the field of the economy, with for example, the expectation for the pulling of the remainder of the USD15bn aid package for Ukraine, higher gas prices and disruptions to cross border trade. No one imagined a scenario involving direct Russia military intervention in Ukraine – which is what we are currently experiencing. Russia has crossed all the lines, the only question is how much further it is willing to go, and what the West can do to halt Russian expansionism?
Russia has explained its intervention in Crimea as defending the safety and security of ethnic Russians in Ukraine, following what it claims is the victory of radical/terrorist forces in the recent Maidan unrest in Kiev and elsewhere. There has, however, been little real evidence of inter-ethnic conflict in Ukraine though the last several months of street protests.