It was only a matter of time before the inevitable happened and the Russians invaded mainland Ukraine.
Despite all the cautions, warnings, and disbelief in the West, Putin has been diligently working on his own plans. His plan is to keep breaking off chunks of Ukraine – and he has nothing to lose and there is nothing to stop him.
Even in Eastern Ukraine, where there's a lot of pro-Russian sentiment, people are terrified of the full-blown Russian invasion and calling for help to stop the Russians whom they have come to call "terrorists."
So far the West has imposed laughable sanctions, which suggest they are not going to get really involved, much like the Georgian war in 2008.
This gives a clear green light for Putin to further his own agenda in Ukraine and beyond.
In just the past few days, Russian forces, some invisible and some in plain sight, have been aggressively taking control of towns in eastern Ukraine, particularly in Donbas and Lyghansk regions. They are trying to stir up the local population to support the movement to join Russia.
The outside perception – one that the Russians have worked very hard to create – is that there is wide support for this movement, but it’s not as strong as many think. Even in Eastern Ukraine, where there is a lot of pro-Russian sentiment, people are terrified of the full-blown Russian invasion and are calling for help to stop the Russians whom they have come to call "terrorists."
Tyrchunov, the acting president of Ukraine, has called Russia’s actions an act of terrorism and has set up special anti-terrorists military units.
Everyone knows, especially the Russians, that Ukraine does not have much to fight with in terms of military weapons. But if one thing is clear, it’s that the Ukrainians are ready to fight their enemy with whatever they can muster.
Audio of a tapped conversation between the Russian forces in Ukraine and their commanders in Russia has just been released, providing further proof of a planned Russian invasion and not a civil war in Ukraine, which is what the Kremlin has been calling it.
In the conversation, the leader of the organized military forces was asking his commander for more weapons and backup forces. He also told him that a mission has been successful and that they have wiped out a Ukrainian unit with very high-ranking people, but that he did not know exactly who these people were.
The commander reiterated that the whole world is watching, a clear signal not to make any moves that prove too aggressive or too obvious.
At the same time, it was obvious from the conversation that Russian forces were giving orders to take over government buildings in Ukraine, rouse fear in local populations, and destroy any Ukrainian counter-terror units.
The short-term goal of Russian involvement in Ukraine is to destroy planned talks in Geneva on April 17 between Ukraine, the U.S., EU, and Russia. During these talks, and given ample proof of Russian aggression, Russia would have to admit their wrongdoing. This would be an impossible task for Putin given his belief that Russia can do no wrong and that he is only intervening in Ukraine to protect the Russian population and act as a peacekeeper.
We know that this argument is nothing but a bold faced lie. But there is, indeed, even more to Russia’s plan. Putin wants to stop the May 25th Ukrainian presidential election from going forward.
This election signifies the loss of more of the Kremlin’s power in Ukraine – an outcome Putin simply cannot allow.
He will push for more violence, he will send in more troops. The Russian military personnel without insignia, the so-called "Green Men" who took over Crimea, are being bussed to Eastern Ukraine as I write.
The Crimean plan is unfolding across Eastern Ukraine. And while all this is going on, there is still inaction on the U.S. side as the government tries to find a dialogue that Russia will engage in, a truly fruitless task.
Tetyana Shvachuk is a Ukrainian-American political activist and writer. She is CEO of Enlightened Beauty and will be publishing her first book in 2014.