So Putin has rather predictably called Obama's bluff, having made the correct assessment that Obama is a man of straw, and deployed his armed forces into the Crimea region in a de facto annexation. His motivation? The defence of his dream to reconstruct the USSR, and revenge for the revolution in Kiev that humiliated him.
Putin's next move in the fourth act of this crisis will most probably be to annex eastern Ukraine under the guise of protecting the Russian speaking population which will precipitate a short lived conflict between Ukraine and Russia. America and the West will scream and shout, but will not act militarily outside their sphere of influence. However, after much shuttle diplomacy the West can be expected to impose financial sanctions and evictions from organisations such as the G8. This will have one single and profound consequence of forcing Russia into the arms of an alliance with China. As highlighted in 'Breaking The code of History' such an alliance would be the very worst outcome for the stability of the world in the next decade. Europe and especially Germany would as a consequence be forced back into the old Cold War paradigm as a peripheral satellite conflict zone to the Chinese challenge to America.