Moscow's quick acceptance of the Crimea as an independent sovereign state is about "Russia's fears that the West is systematically encircling and diminishing it," Britain's former Ambassador to Moscow told Daybreak.
Sir Tony Brenton said Ukraine was "a very important domino" for Russia and Putin would do everything he could to prevent it from falling.
Putin's decree recognising Crimea as a 'sovereign country' has triggered the toughest sanctions against Russia since the Cold War.
With over half of the votes counted, over 95% of people in Crimea have voted to become part of Russia, election officials have said.
At some point the West's warnings will have to become deeds, part of the problem is they don't know which Putin they're dealing with.