© Alexey Druzhinin/AFP/Getty Images
After the shock, the response. For two days Western governments clung to the illusion that Vladimir Putin would not ignore their concerns, despite the hour-by-hour escalation of events in Crimea. The Russian parliament's vote to send in the tanks snapped them out of that illusion.
The European Union, which at lunchtime yesterday was vaguely saying that foreign ministers would meet "early next week", announced this would now happen tomorrow. The UN Security Council went into emergency session last night.
"We are now deeply concerned by reports of military movements taken by the Russian Federation inside of Ukraine," President Obama said. John McCain, the former presidential candidate who in recent days has insisted threat be met by threat, went further. He wrote on Twitter: "Russian Senate backs Putin request to send troops to #Ukraine - straight out of Soviet playbook. Don't want Cold War back, but Putin seems to."
Catherine Ashton, the EU foreign policy chief, said last night: "This is an unwarranted escalation of tensions. I therefore call upon the Russian Federation not to dispatch such troops, but to promote its views through peaceful means."
Yet, as the howls of protest grow, what can actually be done? The international community has looked impotent, condemning the actions but remaining a considerable way away from putting boots on the ground.