volveré y seré millones
It's not a first step at all, since it's what the US has been doing for a long time and even the EU has joined in, such as when France, Britain and the US campaigned into Libya, toppled its government and made way for a bunch of of puppets trained in Europe, the US and private companies that "run" the country, now a mess full of rebellious armed tribesmen and militants, to allow oil companies to try and funnel out oil cheaply while the living conditions of the local population plummet.
Some may say that Russia is helping those who want the ties, but the point here is the move INTO Ukraine and Russia's only real moral behind this - get land and show the world who they are. If the rest of the world sits without acknowledging Russia's actions, what stops other countries like China from seeing potential to take over land? Or anyone else. If the invasion of Russia is seen an an inclusive problem to Ukraine, people are missing the point that this situation signals a far bigger and slow change in world power. Russia is taking its first step to try and basically say that "we are alive, watch out".
East Europe should really be a bloc of its own, separate from both West Europe and Russia. You probably know the issues Russia represents, but the EU is running unsustainable austerity policies which force it to expand territorially to replace demand that it loses within or ensure primarization in business partners to dump the production of its industry (if mainly Germany's) there and take cheaper commodities.
What Russia is doing is also an escalation of a conflict that was already taking place through the economy and activists that are not independent. The EU and the US are already intruding by dealing directly with the opposition figures. That's a destabilization policy because they are disregarding a democratically elected government. Russia moved military forces but the EU and the US had already disrupted your sovereignty by working on the streets, in the markets, the media and through diplomacy to further the opposition and weaken the elected government. So Russia is fondling what's already raped.
Every time the EU and the US declare an opposition group "more representative than the government", as they did recently in Libya, Syria, Ukraine, Bolivia, Venezuela and Paraguay, they are disrupting local sovereignty and democracy, since only local elections, or at least an internal conflict, can define sovereignty, not an external power. Be that Russia, the EU or the US.