Make no mistake - the Cold War is back. As with the first Cold War the main task is to ensure that it does not turn hot. Paradoxically, the way to achieve that is for NATO, with all the clarity it can muster, to tell Putin that a move against the Baltic states would be met by military retaliation. It is the message that should come out of the crisis summit which president Obama has called for next week. It's scary, but Putin, like so many of his predecessors, understands all too well the language of force.
I feel sorry for the people of Russia. They are being led into a totalitarian abyss of economic and spiritual collapse which goes hand-in-hand with poverty and devastation. Using degrading and immoral means, the Russian government has destroyed the notion of truth with their mad propaganda for the occupation of Ukraine.
When countries set out their cases for energy independence, the main reason is generally cited as the need to ease reliance on oil and gas from unfriendly places. President Barack Obama's 'All of the Above' energy strategy for example, a plan that has seen this US administration extract more fossil fuels than any other, is very much predicated on the need to lessen oil imports from Iran and Saudi Arabia.
The crisis engulfing Crimea is a grave one. Vladimir Putin's armies have cut the region off from the rest of the nation, and are insisting on an illegal referendum in order to give elusive legitimacy to a brazen act of aggression. Now is not the time for the West to take options off the table - even rather unpalatable ones.
With Russia integrated into the borderless world economy, all sides have a great deal to lose. Unless the West is willing to engage militarily, the only obvious way to get Putin's attention is by imposing real economic sanctions that have a real effect. However the New Russia cannot be isolated by sanctions without severely damaging Russia's trade partners and investors in the West.