Armed men in military fatigues block access to a Ukrainian border guards base not far from the village of Perevalne near Simferopol on March 2, 2014. (AFP PHOTO / GENYA SAVILOV)
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With Western powers increasingly concluding Ukraine has lost Crimea to Russia, the U.S. and its allies face few viable options and serious questions over future relations.Ukraine's relatively small and underequipped forces could take action but would risk inciting a much wider Russian invasion that could overrun the country.Russian troops are engaged in war games near the border with Ukraine and pro-Russian activists have hoisted Russian flags at government buildings in the east, clashing with supporters of Ukraine's new authorities, but there has been no sign of Russian military action there so far.As well as conventional forces, Russia could cut off gas supplies to Europe, which run through Ukraine, and is believed to have sophisticated cyberattack capabilities it could turn on Ukraine or the West.In sending troops to Ukraine, in contrast, Moscow is seen to have unilaterally invaded a sovereign state – although there have long been Russian forces in Crimea, which leases the base for its Black Sea Fleet in Sebastopol from Ukraine.Sending them toward Ukraine could be seen as provocative, however.Ukraine's military, now ordered to full combat readiness to repel a full Russian invasion, is considerably weaker than Russia's.
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