We all present and think about Putin as the big winner in this game he is playing now. But in fact he is a big loser.
We should even pity him.
He has assembled and trained one of his best intervention armies since long at the border of Ukraine which has an underpaid and underequipped army which is totally immobilized by a political strategic indecision, international pressure and operative limitations which make any real internal military action impossible. But after a few weeks he is still at the border and hasn't conquered one mile of Ukraine even if he was several times on the brink of giving the order to go ahead.
He has mobilized one of the best organized intelligence and undercover organisations in the world to destabilize and take over a few regions in much the same way as Crimea and where there should have been enough breeding grounds for a popular armed insurrection against Kiev. After a few millions of dollars and hundreds of operatives on the ground there is not one region which is enough under control to be able to fly in the troops and to accept their demand to be part of the New Russia. Worse even in the cities where you have taken over several public buildings and immobilized every police force in the city the number of prorussian demonstrations has now dwindled to such a low number that next weekend nobody will come if you don't pay them more.
He has now occupied the Crimea for a few weeks and already the shops are empty, the conversion of the local currency to the Ruble is a mess, the local minorities are beginning to protest against the abuses and the big plans to turn it into a Las Vegas or any other investment paradise won't fill the shops and the bankaccounts in the coming days or months. Every so many days new problems arise for which you are now responsable and you can't blame the Ukranian government while the total cost you will have to invest increases with billions every week. Internationally the annexation hasn't been accepted by any of the important countries in the world and legally there a number of complaints before the international courts that may cost a lot of money in the long term (compensations).
Even if he can speak on television for 4 hours and even if all the main tv channels and the press don't see themselves as journalists but as soldiers of the army creating propaganda of sometimes even the worst kind, he doesn't have enormous demonstrations of people asking him to invade Ukraine to re-create the Old USSR or NeW Russia. Even if he has the best propagandists and an International propagandastation Russia Today to try to impose his framework on the political world and the media and even if he succeeds quite well because their opponents are some young web-enthusiasts from Maidan, Ukraine has never received so much money and support so quickly from so many states.
and so I think he is beginning to feel very frustrated, unsure and angry (maybe even at himself) because every day that passes without some major developments he can use and the west is increasing its presence and influence at his borders he is proving that it is not by confrontation but by cooperation that ones assures the security of its borders and its political survival and that cooperation is being put on pauze in an ever extending number of domains every week
and so we are moving back to the good old days of confrontation and cold war mentality but which at the same time look more and more like the endgame for Russia
and so having despised Gorbachev for the loss of the empire of the USSR he is becoming more and more just like Gorbachev risking another series of 'buffers' before Moscow who want to become independent because you doesn't understand that cooperation makes better friends than threatening them with military power and sanctions and low-level guerilla warfare and destabilization
with friends like that you need no enemies and you have to look for real friends and you go west instead of east