It's a scripted situation.....planned out likely for months by the Russians, and everyone else just missed all the signs.
At some point by summer, some massacre-like event will occur where Ukrainian-Russians will be wounded or killed, and thus become a trigger for Russian troops to enter the country. The new dividing line of Ukraine-Russia and Ukraine will end being the Dneiper River, which runs north-to-southeast, and literally splits the entire country .
NATO will stand by and mostly watch, with some military maneuvers and patrols being the full extent of their participation in the defense of the Ukraine.
Poland will gather up its leadership and ask questions over the purpose of NATO and if there's any reason to believe they would be defended. The Americans will appease them (my humble guess) by moving the current Air Force assets at RAF Lakenheath, UK to be permanently based in Poland, along with 6,000 US Army personnel....mostly from US posts in Germany.
The Baltic nations will suddenly find Russians in their midst.....have frustrations and civil actions are on the upswing. None of the three nations will feel comfortable over riots, hooligans, or demonstrations.
The new residents of Ukraine-Russia will be proud and happy over their new empire. About six months into this era....some folks will observe that economic conditions are not improving after all the chaos dissolved. The old factory operations which offered jobs in various communities? Shut down because the markets for the products in Europe are closed-off. Purchases to improve commerce via Russia? It won't be appearing....nor will any "candy-money" appear to an extent to help the locals survive. Two years into Ukraine-Russia....the question will be....what kept us from economic recovery?
The Germans? They will look mostly at the lack of US participation, lack of US leadership, and limited EU courage. Some will eventually turn toward the SPD and ask stupid questions....noting some negativity over how this mess started and the emphasis to bring the Ukraine into the EU market was pushed heavily by the SPD. Somewhere by 2016, Germany will allocate more funding for the military, and go into a rebuilding process....to take ten years to reach the anticipated goal. The SPD won't be able to argue their long-term agenda in any positive spin....losing support across various state elections in Germany.
The US? Well, the network news media will do their best to avoid talking about this new Dneiper River border and the new Ukraine-Russia existence. It's not a US problem....will be the typical comment given in public forums. Some will come by 2016 to associate President Obama with the division of the Ukraine and 'lines of the Dneiper' will be passed around the White House negativity that comes to exist.
Putin? Game over, won. He will sit back, and proudly note that not a single NATO asset stopped his advancement. For that matter, a limited and marginally capable Russian force was able to take one-star military force in the Ukraine....in a matter of days. It looks good on paper....even if it was a limited episode.
Someone will nominate Putin for a Nobel Peace Prize....noting that he brought peace to a region engulfed in chaos and suffering.
The threat of cutting off natural gas flow into Europe or the remaining Ukraine? Well, it pushes everyone to look toward Norway and the coast of Africa. Russia will push prices higher by the end of 2014, and Germans will mostly agree that this Russian natural gas deal is screwed up. It may take three years....but the thirty-five percent control of natural gas going into Germany.....will be cut in half by 2017, and mostly down to five percent by 2020. Russian billionaire wealth will have been seriously hurt by this cut.
By 2020, what most will note is that what is left of the Ukraine....has economically recovered and people in that region are better off than they were in 2012. Open markets in Germany, France and Poland have helped in the recovery process. Trucks, boats, and consumer goods are sold easily in the market place. Educational facilities are booming with IT and technology students within the remains of Ukraine. Ukrainian agricultural products got picked up on Tuesdays, and delivered into Frankfurt fruit markets by Friday. What remains of Ukraine.....will eventually boom economically.
By 2020, Ukraine-Russia is marginally no better than in 2012. They sit idly by and wait for Russian purchases to occur....but it's haphazard. Most of the youth pack up and leave by age eighteen....because there's no jobs, and head toward Europe (shocking, huh?). While natural gas is abundant.....it's pricey and most everyone in Ukraine-Russia complains daily about the cost and wonder why they can't afford it. Infrastructure? Mostly stalled. Occasionally, the Russian government give a 'gift' of funding....to build a bridge.....but rarely are there any projects which mean commerce growth.
By 2020....American policy thinkers will mostly see a failed US foreign policy from this era....a President with no real perception of foreign affairs nor having a staff capable of grasping such matters....and a comical mass media device in existence with no ability to ask questions. History will be written over this division, and most will wonder if anyone in Ukraine-Russia ever thought about the big picture or what would occur after the chaos.
In essence, the fat lady sung. It's an ending that is both woeful and dynamic. It forced change, and a revisit of safety and security in Europe. The 1990's tune of a bold new safe world.....is mostly gone. And reality starts to creep back into big picture.