With the ‘secret’ Russian invasion of the Crimean peninsula and the vote for independence already taken place, it is only a matter of time before Russia annexes the peninsula and makes it a part of Russia. The only problem is that it is completely illegal. It is more akin to the German annexation of Austria. Some might argue that was a vote for independence, however, that vote had a highly suspicious outcome, with over 96% of voters wishing for independence. Not only have Russia had suspect elections before with high voter fraud, the vote had zero international over sight, with Switzerland refusing to send officials over to verify the legitimacy of the vote, regarding it as completely illegal.
Russia never has cared for how the international community has viewed it. Nor do they really have the need to, as they are a very powerful nation with a nuclear arsenal on par with ours. It also controls massive oil and natural gas reserves that many European nations rely on for their day-to-day operations. Those nations have asked for fewer sanctions against the nation, with hopes of reducing the inconvenience of Russia breaking international law and it’s effect it has on them.
While relations between the west and east at an all time low, the risk of nuclear confrontation remains low, with mutually assured destruction still playing the same role it has been for 60+ years. Though, as Russia continues to proceed down this path, without any sign of stopping, all progress that has been made in the international community over the past 20 years will regress to the point of a second Cold War, with belligerent nations such as Iran taking full advantage of the unrest.