A Russian attack on NATO’s eastern member states was never likely. At the same time, the threat of escalation in eastern Ukraine and the potential for more direct Russian and NATO involvement in the fighting there is a clear and present danger.
The confrontation between Russia and the United States that the world experiences today potentially could even be more dangerous than the Cold War, because each side believes that it has a monopoly on truth.
With the international investigation of the Malaysian plane crash yet to begin in earnest, the West will base its understanding on evidence supplied mainly by the United States and Russia will see Western actions as punishment not for shooting down the plane, but rather for Moscow’s position on Ukraine.
All of Putin’s actions, such as annexation of Crimea, trying to suffocate Ukraine, and trying to contain the United States and West in general, are a response to his domestic agenda. To survive, Putin wants to return to the old militaristic Russia and to become a war president.
Vladimir Putin’s policy is to do what he sees right, regardless of what others think about it. He is ready for sanctions and to accept the costs.
From the perspective of Putin and his associates, Ukraine is a red line and the West, in the form of NATO, was crossing it.
A second Cold War is emerging because of the mistakes that were made by both Russia and the West at the end of the first Cold War and during the inter-Cold War period.
It seems unlikely that Russian armed forces will move beyond the Crimean peninsula. The softer and more conciliatory tone taken by Putin could be a result of the determination of the United States and Europe to take action against Russia.
Putin interprets the victory of the Maidan in Ukraine as a victory of anti-Russian and pro-Western forces. He is very concerned about the possibility of having an anti-Russian state right on the Russian border.
The crisis in Crimea is the most dangerous moment since the end of the Cold War, with the risk of not only an escalation of tension between Ukraine and Russia, but also between Russia and NATO.