Ukranian officials are livid today after a referendum set the stage for Crimean accession into the Russian Federation. Crimea is being recognized as independent by Russia now, and annexation is expected at some point in the future.
Ukrainian interim President Oleksandr Turchinov says his government will “never accept” the annexation of Crimea into Russia, though the practical matter is there is little to nothing he can do about it.
What this means in the long run, if and when the annexation comes, is a protracted territorial dispute, though Russia’s size and the overwhelming results of the referendum mean it will be a theoretical dispute more than a literal one.
There are scores of territorial disputes worldwide, so this is really nothing new, though the Crimea is among the largest such disputed territories. Barring some dramatic shift in popular sentiment among Crimeans, however, it is likely to stay a Russian Republic within the Federation.