Will they, won’t they? They might, he might, but not before looking at the potential profit and loss balance sheet of moving the 100,000 Russian troops near the Ukrainian border across, and into war.
On the plus side a successful military invasion of Ukraine increases the buffer zone Russia craves between it and the NATO powers. It probably could link the parts of the Donbass region, already controlled from Moscow, down to the Crimea region annexed in 2014. It could lead to the toppling of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his annoying political reforms which are undermining pro-Russian businessmen in Ukraine.
In the loss ledger are not just the large numbers of dead Russian soldiers – the Ukrainian military is in much better shape than it was 7 years ago. There are also the economic sanctions which will be piled onto those already hurting the Russian economy. What looks like an economic warning shot was fired on Tuesday when the German energy regulator suspended certification of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline on the grounds that it needed to be complaint with German law before approval can be granted. The project is crucial to Moscow’s economic and strategic plans and a full-scale invasion of Ukraine would probably lead to various non-compliance technicalities being found to make the suspension permanent. If Nord Stream 2 is up and running, Europe becomes even more reliant on Moscow for its energy. Risking that is quite a risk for Moscow.