Today, Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized Crimea, which is part of Ukraine, as an independent nation.

It’s expected that Putin will soon announce that Crimea, which had a forced referendum Saturday on whether to join Russia or not, will become part of Russia.

“The most important message for the White House to send at this point is to not accept the Crimea secession as legitimate and to let Moscow know the reset is dead,” says James Carafano, vice president of foreign and defense policy studies at The Heritage Foundation. “The White House can’t go back to doing business as usual with Moscow.”

Carafano speculates that the recognition of Crimea as an independent nation may simply be “the first shoe to drop.”

“Both houses of the Duma have to vote to accede Crimea to the Russian Federation. Putin can pull that trigger at any time,” Carafano observes.

“Unless a shooting war starts, look for this crisis to move into a protracted phase, with Putin pressing the West to just accept [the situation] and back off sanctions, and the U.S. and Europe to look for facing actions,” Carafano adds. “The crisis, on the other hand, could flare up if Putin moves deeper into Ukraine, if there is an outbreak of violence, or if a shooting war starts.”