Today, President Obama announced that he is imposing sanctions on some Russian and Ukrainian officials. This action came about after people in Crimea voted overwhelmingly to separate from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation. While there were unmarked military vehicles in the streets of Crimea, no one was forced to vote and there was no violence in the election process. The fact that Tatars and some others refused to vote did not affect the results of the election.
Apparently, the U.S. recognizes democratic votes only when the results agree with its political goals. For example, President Bush refused to recognize the win of the Palestinian elections in 2006 by Hamas because of the perceived goals of that group. The fact that the election was democratic and fair seems to have been irrelevant.
In contrast, Kosovo was forcibly separated from Serbia by NATO bombing and declared an independent state in 2008 despite the protestations of Serbia and Russia. The United States, however, almost immediately recognized the independence of Kosovo. This inconsistency shows that the U.S. foreign policy is based not principles or respect for democracy. The U.S. accepts the results of democratic processes only when it is convenient and when the results are consistent with its political goals.
The attached video presents a brief review of the issues relating to the crisis in Crimea. President Obama also has stated repeatedly that the Crimea vote was illegal and against the Ukrainian constitution. However, Ukraine has had a multitude of constitutions, with Russia and the Crimean parliament arguing that the referendum is legal, citing
"The UN recognized right of self-determination and the advisory opinion on Kosovo in which the International Court of Justice declared that international law contains no prohibition against declarations of independence."
It is probably a forgone conclusion that Crimea will become part of Russia. If the West increases its threats and sanctions against Russia, it won't be surprising if Russia goes further and even annexes the eastern part of Ukraine proper where Russians also dominate. So, a delicate balance must be employed in responding to the events in Ukraine. Sanctions will have no effect on Russia and military maneuvers in the Black Sea by the U.S. and its NATO allies can only serve to aggravate the situation since there is no military solution to this problem.
More generally, as Ron Paul stated in his farewell speech to Congress, it is time to end the interventionist foreign policy of the United States. The ability of the U.S. to force other countries to follow its dictates has diminished considerably.