Wow leave the thread for a few days and it gets overrun by paranoid Putin haters...
Some of the rhetoric you guys are spouting against Moscow's stance is stupidly narrow minded. I'll reiterate for the 10th time, either Russia plays the Global Chessboard and resoundingly wins the game for the next century, or Russia quagmires itself in a regional conflict that will be resolved when Ukraine and the Keiv junta collapses anyway. Honestly how narrow minded do you have to be to not see the outcome on a grander scale of either scenario.
In saying this some of you are actually accusing Putin of being pro-West, so you really are pretty narrow minded.
Well, Putin was definitely pro-West not that long ago and it is clear that the Kremlin is less eager to burn bridges with the USAE than the USAE with Russia.
There is a school of thought that says that Russia was, and to a great extent still is, pro West for very good strategic reasons. The most important of which was/is to buy time to increase its defences, both military and economic which were both in a pretty bad way as well as gain allies around the world. It has succeeded brilliantly.
The unfolding of the events in Ukraine has underlined that strategy. Never pushing things so far as to upset the West, forcing them to really react. Delaying events as far as possible in the expectation that the pressures in Ukraine, particularly financial (note that stunningly successful poison pill $3B loan) as well as military and political, will build to some kind of collapse and anarchy. Above all, playing the part of a reasonable non belligerent.
As said, Ukraine, both sides of the ceasefire line, is the unfortunate fall guy in this particular world power play. Both sides are dancing to the tunes of their paymasters. To look at it purely on local grounds is missing that point. Russia seems to be determined to keep Ukraine (excluding Crimea) intact with a viable Russian oriented section in the East as a counterbalance to the west of the country. Almost everywhere else the US has acted, like Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, Syria etc has crumbled into mini states that are easier for them to control. The good old British 'divide and rule' with few Brits actually there. So far Ukraine has not gone that far.
Kiev needs a fight in the east, to divert attention from the increasing problems and attract more Western money/support, much more than Russia. I suspect that in the event of the UA actually attacking east, sufficient munitions will be fired from indeterminate and deniable sources with the objective to stop them in their tracks and cause a mutiny.
In my mind it's all a play for time, while also winning the hearts and minds of people all over the world, so that the will to fight Russia in the West can only come from the top with little support from the common man. This is especially strong amongst the European population, with most not trusting their media or government, and some actually believing Russia is in the right. Remember that one of the US' main strategies during the Cold War was to play the "moral high ground" card, convincing the West as a whole that the Soviet Union was evil simply because of its communist principles, therefore giving the US a free pass to do whatever the hell it wanted to under the guise of "freedom" and "democracy". Today, the US holds no such card. Many saw them for what they were when they murdered hundreds of thousands of Iraqis in the deposing of Saddam Hussein, plunging the country into chaos. Again in Libya, now Syria. Public opinion polls showed that people around the world think the US is the greatest threat to world peace. This is why they are so eager to paint Putin as trying to rebuild the Soviet Union, because they can then fall back on the "evil communist" mantra against Russia (not that that would work too well today either, given the socialist swing most "democratic" Western countries are pushing, meaning a lot of liberals, especially in the younger generation, are completely and wholeheartedly sold to the idea of a socialist state).
It really is a high stakes game of chicken, but in my opinion the US lost it in 2000, with the succession of Vladimir Putin. Ukraine was game set and matched with the secession of Crimea, and the formulation of the Novorossiya ideology. Kiev will collapse, Porky Yats etc. will flee, and the successive government (if there is one) will no longer have the same drive to kill its own people. We'll probably end up with a North/South Korea DMZ, but by my reckoning even that won't last long.