OK

 The election is now over and the results were pretty much as expected.

 The head of the referendum committee in Ukraine's Crimea region says more than 95 per cent of voters have approved splitting off and joining Russia.
   Mikhail Malishev said the initial result came after more than 50 percent of the ballots had been counted. Russian news agency, Interfax, said voter turnout had exceeded 80 per cent.
 
   Kiev and pretty much all of the west has refused to acknowledge the results.

  Our news media appears to want to protray this as some simplistic standoff between Russia and NATO. It is much more complicated than that.

Pro-Russian demonstrators burning books in Donetsk

 Crimea's pro-Russia authorities say that if Ukrainian soldiers resolutely occupying their garrisons don't surrender after Sunday's vote, they will be considered "illegal."
   Ukraine's acting defence minister, Igor Tenyuk, said in an interview published Sunday by the Interfax news agency that "this is our land and we're not going anywhere from this land."
 Some fear the Crimean Tartars will launch a guerilla war against Russian occupation and start a "second Chechnya". Without a doubt the Tartars appear more organized and motivated than the Crimean Ukrainians.
   The Crimean Tartars largely boycotted the election.

   Even before the election, the Crimean government was looking to abandon the Ukrainian currency and adopt the ruble.

 Interfax news agency cited Rustam Temurgaliyev, Crimea's vice premier, as saying: "All Ukrainian state enterprises will be nationalized and become the property of the Crimean autonomy."
   Hoping Moscow would let Crimea become part of Russia, he said: "We are ready to introduce the ruble zone."
With the Russian government seemingly headed towards conflict, 50,000 demonstrators turned out in Moscow opposing war.
Marchers carried placards reading "Putin, get out of Ukraine" and others comparing Russia's move on Crimea with the Nazi annexation of the Sudetenland as Europe rushed headlong into World War II.
 There is a lot of talk about the illegality of the Crimean occupation and the referendum, but I personally think that we've gone way past the law here. While there is nothing illegal about people voting for secession, there is also nothing legal about a foreign military ceasing all the military bases and bridges in another country without a declaration of war. The seizure of Crimea was an extremely well planned out and organized affair.
 More disturbing is the fact that Russia appears to be testing the borders of Ukraine.
   The Kiev government is also accusing Russia of stirring up violent protests in the eastern cities of Kharkiv and Donetsk. Considering that Putin used the excuse of "protecting ethnic Russians" for invading Crimea, this is very disturbing.
 Natalya Sedova, 50, said she was "for a united Ukraine and against occupation" and that, as an ethnic Russian, she felt no threat in Ukraine. She feared pro-Russian activism was part of efforts by corrupt allies of the ousted president to return. "All these Russian demonstrations are just pretend," she said.
 It's easy to forget that domestic politics, such as the former president, is having more influence than Russian.

  Finally, there is the western response to consider. As of now it seems unlikely there will be a military response. Most likely the response will be economic sanctions. Those sanctions will bite the Russian economy very hard.

 I have no idea what is going to happen next, and I doubt anyone else does either. But it looks pretty obvious that more violent clashes are coming.

4:18 PM PT: Putin's approval rating is now 72%. It seems military expansion into Crimea is good politics in Russia.
   But those numbers won't stay up once the economic costs hit.

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