The New York Times has an interesting article here detailing some of the reasons for the recent Russian actions in the Crimea, along with the actions of pro-Russian Crimeans. It posits the argument that Putin’s actions are not part of a grand design; rather they show how reactive Putin has been, and how the issue of NATO expansion is the main driver of Putin’s actions. I also suggest taking the time to read some of the earlier (2005-2010) US diplomatic materials via wikileaks. What you can see from wiki leaks is that the Western looking Ukraine is clearly concerned with attracting investment and reforming the banking sector, the lure of liberalism is intoxicating. What we see recently from the Eastern looking Ukraine is that it is concerned with the important economic investments, especially in the oil and gas sector, made by Russia. These two visions of whither Ukraine may be incompatible.
And some good links on the subject.
Mark Ames from Pando here.
Ben Judah at Politico here.
Anatol Lievan at Zocalo here.