Read the original text at NV.UA.
I believe that conversations that Putin is ready to attack some of his close neighbors are not reasonable. Putin tries to be unpredictable. European military structures (including NATO) seem to be relaxed for the last 20 years. He expects the West to keep calm in its fear without interfering.
And Putin’s calculations are correct. The West did not respond to the Georgian issue, as nothing has happened. The Russian President has violated 2 out of 6 agreements with Georgia. First, Russia should not make any steps unilaterally. Nevertheless, Moscow unilaterally recognized the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Secondly, under the agreement, Russian troops should be taken back from Abkhazia and South Ossetia. As an alternative, the troops have entered these territories. And the West kept silence.
The West might seem to be timid, bourgeois, greedy, and weak. This gave Putin more courage to annex Crimea. No one expected Crimea to be annexed, because there were some laws and norms, which should not be broken. However, Putin did not care about them, supposing that no one would be responsible for it. Putin has crossed the red line, and the West was forced to react.
Now the West is ready for actions. It is prepared for the attempts to exacerbate the situation in Ukraine, create a land corridor to Crimea; it is quite expected. The reaction of the West would be hard, so Putin just would not go ahead. At the same time, he cannot retreat because he would lose his fame. The possibilities of the Russian president are quite limited.
In my view, Putin will try to undermine the economic well-being of Ukraine. In addition, he might use some diplomatic methods to divide Europe. The first persons of the Russian Foreign Ministry said that Russian bilateral relations with the European countries are more important than relations with the EU, although it is not true. Moscow is trying to build a relationship with the individual states, but without a success.
I think we will move into a phase of “exchanging kicks under the table” to stop the development of Ukraine’s economy. Russian propaganda is full of reports that the Baltic States suffer from depopulation and numerous social challenges. They always say that Ukraine is about to collapse because of social problems.
Russia has enough resources to aggravate the situation in the nearby states, but has not enough forces to improve it. Crimea is a perfect example. Putin might make all permissible and impermissible steps to deteriorate the situation in Ukraine. In 2014-2015, in Donbas he started a hot hybrid war, now it would be a Cold hybrid War.