The Crimean Parliament has moved up its plebiscite to about ten days from now, presumably so that nobody gets a lot of time to think about it. The boys (and maybe a girl or two) are hoping the Russian speakers will just go for rejoining Russia, and Russia can maintain that "the will of the people" justifies re-annexation.
The other choice, aside from rejoining Russia, will be remaining in Ukraine with more autonomy than Crimea already enjoys — and that autonomy is not insignificant. Crimeans who don't want to put up with Putin, even among the majority Russian speakers, just might vote that way (but who will be monitoring the vote?) Funny, though, there's no way to choose independence. (Think Kosovo.)
Okay, there won't be a hell of a lot of independence in Crimea no matter how the vote goes — not with those Russian military bases there. So why in hell is Putin making such a big deal out of what is, for Russia, essentially nothing. The bases will stay, whatever transpires. The fleet will stay, if only because it pumps a few extra rubles into Sevastopol.
I read the Times this morning (as always), and I think it may have been devoting a few too many column inches to Ukraine. Granted, not much else was going on.