The past 24 hours has seen more major escalations by Vladimir Putin and his administration over what looks like will be an autonomous region of Crimea before the week is up.
Or maybe even before the day is up. While Western governments and leaders brag about their ‘hour long’ phone calls and tentative sanctions against Russia, Putin’s forces and those loyal to them are swiftly hitting flash points across the Crimea and indeed now in mainland Ukraine too.
We have heard of airspace violations overnight, bridges being planned between Russian territory and notionally Ukrainian sovereign land, the storming of naval bases and indeed defections by Ukrainian military leaders. While the West fiddles, the sovereignty of Ukraine burns. Credit to Putin, he knows how to play the game.
The incursions by ‘pro-Russia’ forces in Donetsk are likely a deliberate overplaying of Russia’s hand. In order to secure Crimea, Putin needs to show he is willing to go further, faster, and then pull back a bit in some sort of negotiated settlement. While Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague rules out military responses, the Prime Minister, David Cameron, is set to announce a slowing of the Russian visa application process to Britain later today. I’m sure Putin is shaking in his boots.
Vlad the annexer is looking at swift moves to ensure his Black Sea Fleet in Sevatastopol, as well as ethnically Russian people in Crimea are secure. No G7 rhetoric or soft power manoeuvres will halt the man.