As far as I can tell, the battle to save the Crimea was lost a long time ago--when President Obama removed anti-ballistic missile systems from eastern Europe in 2009, really, and was made a lot worse as he telegraphed his decisions, more or less telling the world "you just sit back a while, you'll get what you want if you wait until after the U.S. withdraws." And then there's that "we'll have more freedom once I get reelected" bit. Afghanistan and Iraq are even now paying a bitter price for this, and now it's Kiev's turn.
But that said, the controversy of the Crimea is about a former Muslim Khanate--the Tatars that tormented the Czars--absorbed into Russia, filled mostly (but not fully) with Russians and Ukrainians (58% and 24% respectively), then granted to the Ukraine in an effort to make it difficult for Kiev to operate independently of "Mother Russia." It's a controversy that is more or less designed to be a pain in the rear for everyone involved.
So the solution? Well, if I'm understanding things correctly, shedding the Crimea and a couple of other majority-Russian counties could be a huge blessing to the Ukraine. Immediately the number of votes for the Pro-Russian party drops by about two million votes, and if the remaining Tatars want to be a pain like Chechnya, that would belong to Russia. It might even reduce the fuel bill--though that's unsure, as Crimea does produce some natural gas.
In other words, you use the Russian tendency towards empire to make Ukraine a viable nation while ensuring that Russia has yet another headache to deal with. You might even get Russia to pay for the Ukrainian bases and infrastructure they're taking.
OK, probably a moot point now--"leading from behind" is no way to run a superpower--but if we had someone in the White House who actually understood Russia and Eastern Europe (hint; they're all paranoid about being invaded, since it's happened so often), we might have had a much better result.
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