After reviewing Putin’s past actions, he has demonstrated numerous times that he doesn't over react to enemy forces attacking him. He did that in the major incident in Ukraine and Crimea around 2014. He helped the defenders hold ground in the two provinces and also held the ground in Crimea - without overreacting.
Right now, we are seeing the deck stacked against Russia in both Syria and in Ukraine again. What Putin is doing is saber rattling and pretense, but no one knows yet what he will actually do. This was the case years ago when he was being attacked by proxy forces in Syria, and many of us were worried it could go nuclear.
We are seeing a repeat of that same scenario, except Putin has taken it to a higher level. This time NATO is on alert, Turkey is siding with the US and Ukraine, and more arms and troops are pre-positioned on both sides. But judging by past performance, this could be pretense and saber rattling.
We know what Russia "could" do and "might" do, but we have no clue what will actually happen. A pretense and a show of force is to demonstrate to an enemy what you can do, and hopefully the situation will de-escalate when they see the futility of their actions - which is, there would simply be too much bloodshed and waste of military hardware. They will then make diplomatic moves to avoid a full confrontation.
It also seems to me that NATO and the US is too slow to react to what Russia can do on the battlefield. In times past this was not a problem, and the nations simply went into long term war production on their ground, and also gathered the troops together over months or years for a major offensive. But in today's world you either complete the mission at hand or else the enemy (Russia in this case) will finish them off in short order. The high-tech missiles are the backup for the modern nations now, and that can escalate into a nuclear exchange.
Judging by the number of troops on the Ukrainian side leaving their posts, the Ukrainians do not have a loyal army or a “just cause” they feel would justify losing their lives over. The Ukrainian government released some numbers of those leaving their posts at 244, which is obviously a very low estimate. Right now, their military actions are all bluster on their part. And the longer they stay on the ground next to Crimea and the breakaway provinces, the more people they will lose through lack of morale.
The same is true for the NATO troops and the US military, they simply don't believe the narrative that Russia is showing signs of aggression like Germany did in ww2.
When the attacks started happening against Syria a few years ago, they were within 2 weeks of being over- run by ISIS head choppers(which was a secretly created army by a consortium of middle eastern nations, including the US).
Russia came in and made a stand and then carried on a several year campaign to rid the country of the ISIS. The US under Trump pretended to be fighting against ISIS, but in reality, they were only doing a token amount of bombings - mostly in desert areas where few people were affected, if any. But covertly they were relocating ISIS into northern Iran and Afghanistan and other locations.
Putin took a lot of abuse in Syria and lost thousands of Russian soldiers, mostly Russian mercenaries that were volunteering to fight there. But it had to hurt a lot to lose hundreds at a time when the US attacked their bases. Right now, Turkey is turning up the pressure against Russia in Syria, and attacked Russian troops in large numbers. I doubt that Putin will be as forgiving with Turkey this time.
It is quite possible that Erdogan’s days are numbered, Russia could take over the country or attack it enough to collapse that government. Recently Erdagon allowed US warships to enter the Black sea, while at the same time forbid any more Russian ships entering the Black sea. And since the Black sea is considered Russia's southern lake - you can imagine how they feel right now. But they do have plenty of military assets in the Black sea to take care of their defenses at this time. It is probably a blessing in disguise anyway.
When Putin announced a major speech April 21st to the nation, this actually delayed any actions at least 10 days until that time. This helped cool down the entire standoff.
Ukraine is bleeding money to keep an army in the field for weeks or months at a time, and more deserters make their way home or into other countries. After reviewing all the facts, I am feeling more positive about this situation in Ukraine and Syria than before. If we take Putin's past actions as a pattern for future actions, this situation can defuse itself before going past the point of no return. George Eaton