First, the usual association of wingnuts is urging military action, including Fred Hiatt and the Washington Post editorial board, the same John McCain who wanted to egg us into the Georgia-vs-Russia war of a few years ago after egging Georgia on by stupidly hinting at NATO membership, and Dr. Death Warmed Over, Charles Krauthammer, who claims that Obama thinks global warming is a more serious issue. (Actually, in terms of actions, rather than talk, Dear Leader doesn't think it's that serious.)
the last wingnut commentator to be faux-shocked, or rather Faux-shocked,
over Obama not nuking Sebastopol please turn out what's left of the
lights inside his or her head?
The reality is that the ruble and Russian stocks got pummeled Monday. Along with that, Russia's trade treaty partner, Kazakhstan, started sounding the alarm bells. If the financial pummeling continues, Putin will draw in his horns after the Crimean escapade and will butt out of Ukrainian regime change. Up to this point, his adventuresomeness has generally been rational.
Indeed, per a great Guardian piece, which tells Obama not to listen to the blather, this is ultimately Putin's Waterloo, if anybody's.
US financial incentives to Ukraine are so far not enough to provoke him further, but at the same time to indicate the US won't be totally idle.
Most of this will work out in the wash if Putin doesn't double down on dumb. If he does, there's little we can directly do, expect possibly covertly encourage protests inside Russia as its economy continues to tank.
Actually, there is one financial move we can take: Boot Russia from the G-8. However, European members, dependent on Russian gas, will be quite leery of that.
However, encouraged by American technology, and warned by American regulatory blind eyes, European nations could, and should, start fracking for natural gas in their own countries.
That said, this is another case where, like Syria, Dear Leader was dumb enough to draw a bright line. Apparently, he doesn't get that his mellifluous dulcet tones aren't recognized as such in large swathes of the world abroad as well as domestically.
Update: Peter Beinart reinforces the idea that there's been no US "retreat." He also, along with other smart-minded people, says we can't support an anti-Russia Ukrainian government. That would, indeed, be a bridge too far.