A basic principle of the military doctrine of the old Soviet Union-- and now the Russian Federation -- is the concept of maskirovka. It's a word that means, roughly, to deceive. In Russian military doctrine it means to create conditions within the enemy political and military structures that will diminish their ability to react effectively to any attack. It encompasses the "justification" for any attack. It worked perfectly in the Crimea, where the Ukrainian government appeared totally helpless and unable to respond to Russia carving off one of its provinces.
We're seeing the same maskirovka pattern used in the Crimea now being played out in the eastern Ukraine -- carefully orchestrated "spontaneous" outbreaks of support for Russian annexation and extensive propaganda within Russia about the "threats" to the large number of ethnic Russians living in the Ukraine.
Odd how these "grassroots" pro-Russian protestors happen to wear full Russian army battle kit.
The next step is "requests" for assistance, followed by tanks rolling over the border.
The likelihood of a major war in eastern Europe is rising every day. NATO seems inclined to watch with alarm and the U.S. has sent MREs (that's right, Meals Ready to Eat) to support the Ukrainian military, which realistically doesn't stand a chance against the Russians if they were to attack.
The U.S. and the rest of NATO have no treaty requirements to support the Ukraine and no will to intervene. Certainly the American public isn't interested in getting involved in another war right now. The Ukraine is as isolated as Czechoslovakia was just prior to WWII.
The West has imposed sanctions. Russia has responded by selectively raising the price of its oil, upon which so much of Europe depends.
Putin is riding a wave of unprecedented popularity in Russia for his actions. We can't see why he would actually stop, now. In fact, the only curious thing about events so far is why he's waited so long.
-- Kelly Everitt