Just days after the ouster of Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich, Vladimir Putin ordered the Russian military to deploy fighter jets to patrol the Russian/Ukrainian border and put 150,000 soldiers in that area on high alert for war games.
Meanwhile, separatist tensions are coming to a head in Ukraine's Crimea region, where armed gunmen have taken control of the parliament building and hoisted a Russian flag.
Russia also appears to be sheltering deposed Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovich, who is insisting that he is still the rightful leader of Ukraine.
Through statements in the Russian media, Yanukovich rejected the legitimacy of the acting president appointed by parliament and praised the actions of separatists in Crimea:
I still consider myself to be the legal head of the Ukrainian state... I call on the immediate return of the situation in our country to the framework of the constitution.... Right now it is becoming evident that the people in southwestern Ukraine and the Crimea are not accepting the anarchy and de-facto lawlessness in the country, when ministers are chosen by a crowd on a square.
That acting president, Oleksandr Turchynov, has made it clear that any incursion into Ukraine by Russian forces will be treated as a "military aggression."
I am appealing to the military leadership of the Russian Black Sea fleet ... Any military movements, the more so if they are with weapons, beyond the boundaries of this territory (the base) will be seen by us as military aggression.
Some observers are concerned that this escalation of political tensions could lead to a full scale military conflict between Russia and Ukraine, pointing to similarities between the current situation and circumstances preceding the five-day war between Russian and Georgia in 2008.
That conflict resulted in Moscow's official recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent nations.
US Secretary of State, John Kerry, said that the he can't understand how Russia reconciles its staunch, anti-imperialist stance on US intervention in Syria and Libya with its failure to "respect the sovereignty of Ukraine and the will of the people there," and added that the situation should not be seen in a Cold War context.
We are not looking for confrontation, but we are making it clear that every country should respect the territorial integrity here, the sovereignty of Ukraine. Russia has said it will do that, and we think it's important that Russia keeps its word... We're hoping that Russia will not see this as sort of a continuation of the Cold War... we don't see it that way. We do not believe this should be an East-West, Russia-United States - this is not Rocky IV, believe me.
But a Russian invasion is still unlikely, according to the former British ambassador to Russia.
[Putin knows] a full-scale invasion is entirely unnecessary...after all, he possess a whole arsenal of nonmilitary tactics that could undermine the new Ukrainian government, many of which have been used successfully in the past.