Kremlin: Crimea and Sevastopol are now part of Russia, not Ukraine - CNN.com...the Kremlin says Ukraine's Crimea region is now part of Russia.
A signing ceremony Tuesday between Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Prime Minister of Crimea and the mayor of the city of Sevastopol made it official, the Kremlin said in a statement.
Crimea and Sevastopol, where the Russian Black Sea fleet is based, are now part of the Russian Federation, it said.
This development is not surprising for a number of reasons:
1. Russia has long viewed Crimea as constituting a crital national interest (naval base, majority ethnic Russian population, history).
2. The balance of power favored Russia in moving to regain control of Crimea. Ukraine lacked the military power to impose high costs.
3. Neither the U.S. nor Europe have sufficient interests at stake to consider military options.
4. A military approach would be impractical under any reasonable circumstances.
5. The costs of non-military measures are not likely to be so high relative to the gains Russia perceives it will make so as to reverse Russian policy. Russia also has capabilities of retaliating ranging from restricting access to its resources to withdrawing cooperation on major geopolitical matters e.g., Iran's nuclear program. It expects that its ability to complicate U.S. geopolitical goals will constrain the degree of U.S. economic and other non-military sanctions.
6. Past precedent concerning Kosovo's being separated from Serbia with NATO military force playing a role during what amounted to a civil war.
In his national address, Russian President Putin has cited a number of those factors. He did disavow intentions to become more broadly involved in Ukraine, but he has shown a willingness to act decisively where he perceives major Russian interests are at stake.
This development also speaks anew of the need for the U.S. to develop a clear and coherent foreign policy doctrine and relearn how to engage in contingency planning (military and broader foreign policy). It needs to tighten its integration with existing NATO members so as to make clear that NATO members will be safeguarded under any circumstances, even if the use of force is required. In Asia, the U.S. needs to strengthen ties with its leading allies. Japan and South Korea need to know that American commitments to their security are reliable.
Finally, to maintain military credibility in a world in which the balance of power is dynamic, the President and/or Congress need to abandon planned drastic cuts in military expenditures and manpower, even if that means reducing other expenditures, larger budget deficits than would otherwise be the case, or some combination of reallocated spending/larger budget deficits. Otherwise, the U.S. will be perceived as a great power, but one with declining capabilities. That outcome would rightly worry American allies. It could invite challenges to peripheral American interests by hostile actors.