Vladimir Putin’s ambitions are to reclaim some form of Russian supremacy and he is willing to risk everything to achieve this. This sets Putin apart from most global leaders.
While ultimately he made his initial point of occupying most of the Crimea it is unlikely his ambitions will lead him to take any further territory in the Ukraine. This goal is manifested in the Crimean Peninsula. Russia’s Black sea fleet has already delivered an ultimatum to Ukraine’s forces stationed in Crimea to surrender or face an all-out assault. Crimea is strategically important to Russia because it is its only warm water naval base. Despite being a semiautonomous region, Crimea’s chief is appointed by Kiev. Kiev, following the downfall of Yanukovych, is clearly not as loyal to Putin. Therefore, the Kremlin did not delay sending in troops to the Crimea to secure its interests in the region.
However, Putin’s decision to send unmarked Russian troops was not a surprise. The same ploy was used during Russia’s invasion of Georgia in 2008. The Russian parliament’s unanimous approval to place Russian troops in Ukrainian territory came as a surprise. This occurred shortly after U.S. President Barack Obama ended a conversation with his Russian counterpart. Why did Obama’s warnings not to circumvent international law and order fall on deaf ears?