With nobody to physically come to its aid, Ukraine's predicament appears dire: a perpetual loss of territory, including sea, to its former soviet master, Russia. And given the current status of United States (US) refusal to engage or to loudly criticize Russian actions, Ukraine could be invaded by Russia at sometime before 2020.
A naval incident between Ukraine and Russia, on the Sea of Azov, this weekend, affirms Ukraine's delicate sovereignty. Russia fired upon, seized three Ukrainian vessels and detained 24 Ukrainians in a remilitarization of the sea that Ukraine depends upon for trade access to its industrial city in the east, Mariupol.
This weekend's incident was forthcoming ever since Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimea in 2014. Russia has since built a bridge from Russia to Crimea. The Sea of Azov is strategic to Ukraine's eastern sea access to the wider Black Sea to the south. Entry is narrowed considerably at the Kerch Strait that rests between Crimea and Russia. While a 2003 agreement between Russia and Ukraine shared control of the vital sea lane to the Black Sea, that all changed tilting the balance of control to Russia following its annexation of Crimea in 2014.
Ukraine has been fighting a Russian supported insurgency mainly in its east ever since 2014. Relations between the two nations soured on November 21, 2013, when Ukrainians, desiring a closing relationship with Europe over a stronger relationship with Russia, demonstrated at the Maidan and later forced their despot president and Russian supporter out of the country. Democratic elections and a new government have failed to realize the desires of many youthful Ukrainians. Western sympathy has accomplished very little in bringing Ukraine closer to the continent and out of the grips of Russia.
France has expressed deep concern over the recent "serious maritime incidents" and it has called on Russia to release the detained "Ukrainian sailors as soon as possible and to return the vessels that were seized". That's it! There has been no big international rejection of Russian actions.
The noted absence of US condemnation of Russian actions underscores that Ukraine is alone and out-gunned against Vladimir Putin's Russia. And in spite of a commendable reaction from the French, Ukraine remains vulnerable to the loss of sovereign lands and further Russian military action, including armed invasion up until the time of 2020, when US present policy toward Russia could change.