MOSCOW, Russia (MyNews4.com & KRNV) -- The Kremlin has now officially claimed Crimea as part of Russia.
The annexation raised howls of protest from Ukrainian leaders. The Defense Minister authorized its troops to use weapons against the Russians.
Two local political experts say there is reason for concern. Both experts say there are no easy solutions to resolve this conflict, and they fear there is great potential for this situation to continue to escalate.
"We don't see this on a normal day anymore," said Fred Lokken, Dean of Political Science at Truckee Meadows Community College. "It is not the way it's supposed to work in international politics, so it is unsettling."
"But Russia has done this sort of thing for centuries."
Lokken said Russia's actions were very predictable, in part because they have a strategic interest in Crimea. "It is critical to the survival of Russia. It is the only warm water port. The other ports they have are all iced in for certain periods of their winter months."
While Western powers also imposed sanctions, they were shrugged off by the Russian Parliament. "Frankly, it does make us look vulnerable," said Lokken. "It makes us look more weak. If we can't back up the threats, we likely should not make them in the first place."
But Ty Cobb, former Special Assistant to President Reagan has a different view, saying the options really are very limited. "When I used to teach these sort of scenarios at West Point, we had colored charts to show 33 options in dealing with a showdown with Moscow, but in reality, you only had three. You could bomb Moscow, you could do nothing, or you impose economic sanctions that sometimes hurt you as much as them."
Cobb does not anticipate a show of military force, even if Russia moves into eastern Ukraine, but the situation could escalate. "We're no where near the nuclear crisis that we saw in the Cuban Missle Crisis, but you can't rule out escalation to those scenarios."
Cobb adds that the U.S. could re-boot its military presence in NATO-aligned countries, such as Poland and the Czech Republic. The U.S. has no alliance with Ukraine, and he adds the West will be in a very challenging position, if Ukraine asks for our help.