Ukraine crisis: How do you solve a problem like Crimea?

With shots fired by Russian troops, Putin condemning a ‘coup d’état’ and senior diplomats scurrying to ease tensions, there seems no end in sight to the grave crisis engulfing Europe’s eastern edge

Vladimir Putin has given a confident performance in front of the media, insisting that the events of the last 10 days in Ukraine amounted to nothing less than a coup d’état. At almost the same time, the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, arrived in Kiev to shore up the new, pro-Western, yet unelected government.

In Crimea, where Russian troops have taken control and faced an ugly stand-off with Ukrainian forces at the Belbek military airbase, the situation is a long way from being under control. The Russians have effectively annexed the region, despite Mr Putin’s protestations to the contrary.

Ukraine’s finances have flirted with the precipice for a month and Washington announced a $1bn aid package; but beyond that, there seems to be little of substance from the West that will ultimately bring a swift end to the stand-off.

In truth the West has very few sticks with which to beat Moscow: the UK Government’s position – seen through a photographed briefing paper on Monday – makes clear that Mr Cameron is hoping others pick up the mantle. But allies in the EU are just as concerned about the supply of cheap energy from Russian gas fields as they are with the future of Crimea, and the US administration under Barack Obama has proven itself over six years to be doveish to the point of being seen as weak in the face of aggression.

Despite the tensions, the Russian military went ahead with the test-firing of a Topol intercontinental ballistic missile. The missile hit a range in Kazakhstan. The US said it had been notified of the test before the crisis began.

Vladimir Putin said Russia saw no need to use military force in the Crimea region of Ukraine for now (Reuters) Vladimir Putin said Russia saw no need to use military force in the Crimea region of Ukraine for now (Reuters)
Moscow has no interest in armed conflict – a point underscored by Mr Putin – and its financiers will take as real the threat posed to the Russian economy by investors being spooked. But nor does it want to lose face by appearing to cave in to Western demands. All of which means the crisis in Crimea – in which nobody appears to have the upper hand – is far from being resolved.

Read more: Diplomacy: US threatens Russia with political, diplomatic and economic isolation
On the ground: Gunfire, paranoia and football on the base that plays host to two armies
Senior Tories linked to energy magnate with ties to Yanukovych
Russia: Putin won’t rule out force, but will not annex Crimea
Comment: Russia needs the West’s expertise as much as we need its oil
Sketch: Opposition could well get a little more robust on crisis
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Home Care / Support Workers

£7 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This care provider is looking for Home ...

Recruitment Genius: Web Team Leader

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...

Recruitment Genius: Client Manager

£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...

Recruitment Genius: Property Negotiator - OTE £20,000+

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...

Day In a Page

Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate