The futility of US-Western policy over Ukraine is indicative that Russia is holding most of the cards in this poker game of Western vs. revived Russian imperialism. US and EU corporations have no stomach for huge loses in the Ukraine and Russian markets, just as the West has no stomach for destabilizing a world economy that is just now trying to return from the oblivion of recession. My prediction is there is absolutely nothing that the West will do over Ukraine, as long as Russia sticks to the Eastern provinces that it claims constitute a legitimate zone of influence and strategically vital for Moscow.
Moreover, the US and NATO appear weak and helpless over this issue, because their threats are hollow without much muscle to back them up, thus projecting the image that tough rhetoric and a massive propaganda campaign - just as massive as the one from the Russian side - could finally persuade the influential people around Putin to negotiate their way out of the crisis. Eventually, there will be a negotiated settlement, but not as long as the US and West are pumping millions into the pro-West Ukrainian elements in order to secure the mineral and agrarian rich country as a valuable satellite.
On April 27, 2014, US deputy National Security warned Russia that the US and its allies demand a resolution to the crisis over Ukraine because the sanctions would be escalated. Although Republican Sen. Bob Corker suggested the West target Russia's banking system to cripple its economy completely, the Obama team continues targeting individuals close to Putin and the Russian defense industry. Obama repeated the "targeted sanctions" strategy would continue, avoiding any type of a broad and general sanctions policy and certainly refusing a military solution for the ongoing Ukrainian crisis. The best hope of the US is to secure G-7 cooperation on the targeted sanctions strategy, and hope it works as Russia's defense industry begins to feel the pain along with the pain that millionaires and billionaires around Putin would feel as well.
That the US refuses to accede to Ukraine's demands for military assistance or to put the military option combined with a general economic sanctions option on the table reveals how dangerous the US views the situation if it pushes Russia too far. Needless to say, Ukraine will not deter Russia from pursuing what it deems legitimate sphere of influence interests all around its border, and the US with its NATO partners simply lack the will to place their own national interests on the line over Ukraine. Sending IMF and World Bank aid to Ukraine only means mortgaging the country and sinking it into deep debtor status for the next one hundred years, and without providing any guarantees that Russia will not get its way in the Eastern provinces or inside the country as it did in Crimea.
As China is becoming very powerful and likely to replace the US as the world' richest nation at some point in this century, the US needs Russia for the long term. The aggressive antagonistic relationship it has been pursuing over Syria, Snowden, Iran and Ukraine is shortsighted and fails to take into account larger longer term geopolitical and economic interests. Just as the US decided to strengthen China economically in order to weaken and break down the Soviet bloc, similarly, it may wish to strengthen Russia to counterbalance China in ten to twenty years from now. After all, the US worked very hard to end Communism and bring about the kind of open market system Russia has today. That Putin is trying to introduce a more nationalistic course in the economy to reflect his own political vision and ambitions does not mean that Russia will be closed to Western integration, assuming the West does not itself close the door on Russia.
The Asia trip by Obama in late April 2014 was intended to strengthen US ties with China's neighbors so that the US is not left out as a player in the next few decades. I understand that policymakers are immersed in Cold War thinking mode that prevents them from thinking outside the confines of the existing model. However, isolating and weakening Russia is to the detrimental longer term interests of the West that ought to be more concerned with China's might. The caveat here is simple; the US even with its allies assisting is simply unable to impose containment policies on both Russia and China as it is trying to do, as the US tried to do with some degree of success during the early Cold War. The days of the Cold War are long gone and, as I wrote in a recent article, the time has come to promulgate a new realistic foreign policy doctrine that takes into account the realities of the present and not the dreams of the past.