It is interesting to note that this year is the fiftieth anniversary of Crimea becoming part of Ukraine. In 1954 Russia (then the USSR) under General Secretary Nikita Kruschev gifted Crimea to Ukraine (then known as the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic) as a gift to celebrate Ukraine’s 300th anniversary as a part of the Russian Federation (at least according to the Russian Federation).
Crimea, due to its situation jutting into the Black Sea, has been passed around quite a bit historically as a strategic land holding. Most recently Ukrainian citizens revolted against their president Viktor Yanukovich for a variety of reasons but primarily because of his government’s decision to forgo talks to join the European Community in favour of closer ties to Russia.
As a result of this Russian troops entered the region of Crimea and stationed themselves strategically near military bases and transportation hubs like the airport. Since this has occurred the Crimean parliament has since voted to secede from Ukraine and join Russia. This decision is now to go to a public referendum.
Given the populace of Crimea is largely Russian sympathetic it is likely that the vote will pass.
This is a VERY simplistic overview of recent events in Ukraine and Crimea but it shows you that actions and their various reactions are not as clear cut as the media will often present.
Not too many people in the west said much against the Ukraine populace overthrow its own elected government (with no small amount of encouragement from the west) in favour of a new one. However the western response to Crimea and Russia’s involvement has been very different. It is not surprising that Russian troops entered Crimea given its history and the fact that they maintain their Black Sea Fleet out of a naval base in Crimea.
My prediction: When the dust has settled, various sanctions (temporary) will be placed on Russia by the west and vice verse. Crimea will secede, and Ukraine will eventually become part of the European Community. It is doubtful a hot war will erupt as a result.