The annexation by Russia of Crimea has produced a hostile reaction to this event by US politicians, and speculations in the US media as to what Putin will do next.
Most of what is said and written in the US and Europe on this subject reveals view of Russia in the West in the same way as it was seen in the Cold War days (as The West versus the Soviet Union) mixed up with the Doctrine of Promotion of Freedom and Democracy (part of the current "War on Terror" ideology).
But, if seen without political ideological blinkers, the roots of the present Russian involvement in Crimea go back far beyond "Russian Communism" (which only existed 74 years) to centuries of the Russian Imperial History, which preceded the USSR.
Thus, Crimea was conquered by the Russian Empire in 1783, which makes the Russian presence in Crimea almost as old as the existence of the USA (proclaimed in 1776).
But the Russian Imperial past goes much further than that, to the 1500s, when Russia started to expand and became one of the largest empires in the world. And the consequences of this, relevant for the present times, and explaining the events in Crimea, are that (1) the Russian Federation contains many non-Russian areas (like non-English Scotland and Wales in Britain), (2) some areas of the former USSR, which became independent after the dissolution of the USSR, contain large areas populated by ethnic Russians.
The events in Crimea are the result of (2) above, it has nothing to do with "the West versus USSR Cold War" or any ideologies within Russia. The Russian government took action to protect Russian population within a Russian majority area, not very different from the British involvement in the Falklands, or Northern Ireland, although, so far, with less blood and destruction.
What will happen next in Crimea? It depends on how the Russian government will behave towards the non-Russian minorities, and especially towards the Tartars, who, for historical reasons, have a hostile attitude towards the Russians. They should be given administrative autonomy, their religion and culture should be respected, and they should be given generous economic support to overcome their historical suspicions and hostility towards the Russians.
It also depends on the behaviour of the "West", if they keep to try to influence the events in Crimea and Ukraine, this can lead to a "New Cold War" which can last for many decades, as the "Old Cold War" did.
What about Ukraine?
The Western Ukraine was for most of its history under Polish, Lithuanian, and Austrian rule, and as a result its people have more cultural affinity with these countries, than with Russia. It did not become part of the USSR until the Second World War.
The Eastern Ukraine was the Kiev Russ in the 11th century and was part of Russia since the 17th century, and has considerable (18% of all Ukraine: E + W + Crimea), 8 millions) Russian population.
If there are nationalist tensions within Ukraine, some Russian majority areas may want to leave Ukraine and join Russia.
Can it happen in some other areas which became independent countries after the dissolution of the USSR?
Yes, it can, in those areas which have similar situations, that is, existence of large predominantly Russian areas and nationalist tensions, often encouraged by the "West".
But this does not mean that "Russia has imperial expansionist ambitions", as some are suggesting. But, if subjected to hostile "western" pressures, the Russian government will be pushed to assume a more assertive position both in relationship to its own "back yard", and on the world stage.
Today the aggressive expansionist force is not "Russian Communism", it does not exist, but the USA with its attempts to spread "freedom and democracy" (homosexuality?) around the world by force of arms, economic sanctions, fomenting of internal unrests, "regime changes", and other hostile criminal acts.
And while this "American Crusade" has already claimed hundreds of thousands (some say millions) of lives and caused much chaos and destruction around the world, it has also lead to countries like Russia and China assuming more active roles on the world stage to counter this lawless aggressive behaviour of the ideologically motivated "West".
Will the current US President put an end to this ideologically motivated "American Crusade" within the remaining time he has left, or will he leave this task to his successors?