Crimea a step closer to Russia as West argues among itself

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Pro-Russian demonstrators take part in a rally in the Crimean town of Yevpatoria. Photo: REUTERS/Maks Levin

The Parliament in Crimea has voted to become part of Russia. There are reports too that a referendum asking the same question has been brought forward to next Sunday.

At this rate, the issue will have been settled while the West is still arguing about sanctions.

No one is expecting any dramatic move from the EU meeting in Brussels today.

David Cameron speaks to the press as he arrives in Brussels today. Credit: APTN

Europe is divided among itself and from the US over the strength of action to take.

On the one hand, Washington and former Warsaw pact states want a tough set of sanctions to punish Putin.

On the other side, led by Germany, powers that favour mediation. Cajoling Russia down a path towards compromise. The Russian economy and Russia's elites are vulnerable to economic action.

Germany are trying to cajole Russia down the path of compromise. Credit: Kay Nietfeld/DPA

But both too are well integrated into the Western financial system, so the City of London would also bear the costs.

Either way, the Russian President doesn't sound like he's ready to deal. He still denies that those mystery troops on the ground in Crimea are his.

Putin's bigger problem might be to control the forces he's unleashed in Ukraine.

Armed men, believed to be Russian soldiers, assemble near an Ukrainian military base in Perevalnoe. Credit: Reuters

The pro-Russian mobs and militia that stormed the parliament in Donetsk and trapped the UN envoy in Crimea don't look like the kind of guys to go home quietly when this is all over.

That's assuming that Putin is being honest when he says he has no territorial ambitions.

As ever, events on the ground question that.