The leader of the Crimean Tatars has proposed that the 300,000 strong Muslim minority group form an autonomous region in the Black Sea peninsula.
In a press conference, Refat Chubarov said: "By adopting this document, we are announcing to all parties involved the commencement of political procedures to create national and territorial autonomy of the Crimean Tatar people on its historical territory in Crimea."
Many have already fled the region, which was annexed from Ukraine by Russia. They fear falling under the control of Moscow again, due to hardships they had previously suffered under the Soviet Union.
An unusually frank Nato Secretary General issued an unequivocal warning on the course of events should Russia attack Latvia or Estonia.
The West responds with sanctions and closer political ties with Ukraine as Russia's President seals the annexing of Crimea to much fanfare.
Supporters of the controversial fracking industry believe shale gas could be America's most potent weapon in the stand-off with Russia.