Andrei Raevsky gave the subject a thorough write-up and this his conclusion is spot on:
First, for all the PR manufactured by paid and unpaid western propagandists, Russia does hold all the military cards. The Russian problems are not military, they are political: how to defang the US+NATO without having to openly intervene in the Ukraine? How to regime-change the Nazis in Kiev without an open intervention? How to counter the truly formidable AngloZionist propaganda machine which has, at least so far, very effectively concealed from its consumers the very real military danger the collective West and its delusions are running into at full speed? How to counter the (very dangerous) propaganda of those supposed “patriots” who dream about a Russian liberation of (most of) the Ukraine? There are those who want to keep it all simple, stupid. Alas, the reality is much more complex and the kind of idiocy uninformed civilians take seriously has no relation at all to the real world military decision-makers have to live in every day. So the bottom line is this: Uncle Shmuel needs a face-saving “out” which his own ideology and propaganda deny him. The Europeans are too brainwashed to understand even the basic elements of what is at stake, while Russia is desperate not to use military force, but she might well be given no other choice: the Russians have now literally retreated behind their own national border. If somebody, anybody, or any combination of anybodies, crosses the “red line” known as the “Russian border”, it will be war. Then, of course, it will all become very clear very quickly, but by then it will be too late: war will be upon us.
This is a very astute observation but Russia is now also playing an "ambivalence game" and that makes many people in NATO capitals nervous. Hey, two can play the game. Or as Pepe Escobar put it:
Mr. Zircon is on the line, Sir
I suggest you read both pieces--a lot of food for thought. I did today almost two hour interview and it should be available tomorrow. I'll let you know.
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