People watch the Russian anti-submarine ship "Ochakov" which was scuttled by Russian forces at a Black Sea shore outside the town of Myrnyi, western Crimea, Ukraine, March 6, 2014. Russian seamen sank the noncommissioned ship to block the exit for Ukrainian naval vessels located at Donuzlav lake.
I think if we are to ask this question we must look to how the last war was won and lost on Crimean soil.
|Siege of Sevastopol|
If the people of Crimea vote on succession we should expect some violent reaction from those remaining in Crimea and more likely those of Russian decent falling into a wave of ethnic cleansing. This is of course the worst case scenario but if cooler heads prevail and allow the Russians to annex Crimea there will be long term consequences to stability not necessarily in Eastern Europe but more likely in the old soviet states such as Uzbekistan and Kazakistan.
Putin is not really playing poker as much as he is brutally trying to recover old Soviet ground. Russians have a long and well to be honest a depressing history this current war in the Crimea seems to be the same old tune just with a new conductor.
If Russia annexes Crimea the end result is a Putin win in the eyes of the Russians, if he does not annex Crimea then it is still a win as he will be seen to looking tough on the world stage and at home. Russians love to hate a strong man. Putin is that man.