What's at stake in the conflict between the West and Russia over Ukraine is not just the future of Crimea, it's the future of international order.

Some weeks ago, Crimea was a remote place, to historians known as the center of a war in the 1850s, while ordinary people would have associated it with some kind of sparkling alcoholic beverage. But suddenly and unexpectedly, Crimea has become a geopolitical hotspot in a conflict between Russia and the West that seems to be straight out of a Cold War playbook.

Moscow has raised the stakes dramatically with a de facto annexation of this region, which is home of an important Russian naval base and inhabited by a population whose majority is oriented towards Russia (while an important minority, among them the Cossacks, is strongly attached to Ukraine).

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