Six days after the referendum Putin has signed the act of annexation of Crimea and added to the territory of the Russian Federation the new administrative region and the port city of Sevastopol. As it was predictable Russia annexed Crimea quickly without too much effective opposition on the part of the international community apart from some bearable sanctions and speeches of condemnation.
At the moment Putin is strengthened in this pulse because it has achieved what it wanted by fait accompli, in spite of the “international isolation” softened by the fact that Russia can veto any resolution in the UN Security Council and by the reluctance of the other powers to impose serious sanctions.
Gone are the grandstanding speeches on the territorial integrity of Ukraine according to their recognized borders. The principle has been broken.
Well it is true that Crimea belonged to Ukraine since only 60 years. A decision by Nikita Khrushchev. But now it remains to be seen whether Putin will continue to use the same system of fait accompli and change of borders to “protect” the pro Russians from the rest of Ukraine which would lead to a deeper crisis.
In any case the quick secession of Crimea and its annexation by Russia can have a devastating effect in the eastern regions of Ukraine with a numerous pro Russian population contrary to the government of Kiev, where already there have been clashes and violence that according to the logic of Moscow expressed by Putin, would justify a military intervention. The pro-Russian feeling of those flying Russian flags against those who carry the Ukrainian ones will exacerbate. If Crimean pro-Russian have achieved being Russian why not them?. The confrontation between them and the supporters of Kiev can radicalize on both sides. A very tense and dangerous situation for the country, with or without Russian troops on the ground. More dangerous for Ukraine and the world with Russian troops, evidently.
The same day that Russia has annexed Crimea by law, Ukraine has signed a comprehensive agreement with the EU. A similar agreement to which the former president Viktor Yanukovych refused to sign the last november to what originated the crisis that has come to the end that we are seeing today.
Now that Russia has annexed Crimea, Moscow also removed the economic benefits that had granted to Ukraine in exchange of the use of a naval base in Sevastopol. So automatically the Ukrainian debt with Moscow increases, especially the debt with the gas company Gazprom. In the past Putin has already used natural gas as a pressure weapon over Ukraine and Europe because if Russia closes the taps from the pipeline it can leave them without supply a vast part of Europe.
Putin knows his cards. He played fast. On the offensive. The other players are slower. On the defensive. There are many factors to be careful with Russia despite what happened in Crimea.
Now Let’s see what happens with the situation in the Eastern regions of Ukraine and with the gas supply to Ukraine and the rest of Europe, among other factors.