Already a gas plant in Ukraine has been taken over by Russian troops, a gas plant that supplies Crimea with gas. On Sunday, the new pro-Russian prime minister of Crimea was appealing to Russia to send in the fleet to "protect" this gas plant. Julia explains, based on the geography, why it's important to Crimea (and Russia) to get gas from the Ukraine and ensure that it's not cut off and how in order to do that, the likelihood is that Eastern Ukraine is next in the land grab:
Crimea qualifies as a peninsula on the slightest of technicalities, dangling from the Ukrainian mainland by an isthmus (Perekop, on the left side of the map) that, at its widest point, is just 4.3 miles wide. The rest looks like Greece, or lightly melted Swiss cheese.
What’s Crimea’s physical connection to Russia? Well, there isn’t one. There is just the bay just off of Kerch. No bridge there, nothing to connect it to Russia’s Krasnodar region just across the water (on the right side of the map).
... what happens if, as is quite likely, Kiev cuts newly-Russian Crimea off from gas, electricity, and water, which Crimea has none of on its own? How will Moscow, the new owner, supply its latest acquisition with the necessities?
Take a look at those two maps again.
If you’re Russia, do you really want to ferry the necessities across the bay, or build an expensive bridge, or lay down expensive new pipelines? Wouldn’t you rather use pre-existing land routes (and pipelines)? Wouldn’t it just be easier to take the land just north and east of Perekop and the Swiss cheese area, now that you’ve already put in the effort to massively destabilize it? And while you’re there, wouldn’t you want to just take the entire Ukrainian east, the parts with the coal and the pipe-making plants and the industry? You know, since you already have permission?
Related link: The Maps That Show the Inevitability of a Russian Land-Grab in Eastern Ukraine ~ The New Republic