Russia is playing a blinder over the Ukraine and will get just what it wants.
I don’t believe they have – or ever had – any intention of full scale invasion and/or annexation in the way they took the Crimea. The Ukrainian economy is in crisis and the ethnic mix will always make the country toxic to attempts at external control. Putin’s goals will be to make the EU and NATO look like chumps and keep the Ukraine destabilised.
Putin knows that the EU will drag its heels over helping the Ukraine. Having cut the Ukraine’s fuel supply, he just needs to wait another six weeks for winter to arrive and the tenuous political consensus in the country will break down in the face of the practical problem of survival. And NATO will not admit a new member who has not got a stable government!
Russia will then still have a big customer right next door (population 45 million), but if kept unstable, perhaps with a bubbling civil conflict – certainly without any single, credible government – the Ukraine will pose no threat to Russia, and will not be a drain on Russia’s economy.
Looks like Putin has again outwitted the West.