Mr. Putin just announced to the Duma that Russia was annexing Crimea in order to protect the ethnic Russians who live there. It is a done deal. But it is not. The reason it is not a done deal goes to the argument underlying the decision. If it is legitimate to protect ethnic Russians living outside Russia by ignoring national borders, many countries bordering Russia find themselves suddenly at risk.
Right or wrong, one can see how this rash action has opened the door to a longer term conflict and it is very difficult to predict how this will turn out for all who now cannot avoid being part of it.
Conflict is like that.