A strategic stalemate is probably the best result that can be expected from the current Ukraine-Russia conflict, as the post states, but such a stalemate requires that (1) Ukraine be provided defensive weapons it does not currently have and (2) that eastern European NATO members, especially the Baltic states and Poland, be reinforced with ground force elements that if attacked would trigger an all-NATO response. Putin’s goals are strategic, not tactical, and involve a reassertion of Russian hegemony over the former Soviet republics, an old-fashioned sphere of influence, free of Western interference. He is a true representative of the ideological movement called in the 19thcentury, slavophile. Russia is and will remain a great power and must be recognized as such. It’s domestic political and social arrangements are no-one else’s business and it will not stand for external economic or political pressure or attempts at subversion. If subject to such activities it will take measures of its own, including economic boycotts and embargoes and activities subversive of the West, particularly Europe, such as penetration of the new, powerful extremist political movements and parties of the left and right, to the extent of funding the Front National in France through a Russian-controlled bank.
Ukraine is a pawn in all this, albeit a large one. It cannot stand up to Russia in an all-out war, but Russia does not want an all-out war and should be encouraged in that stance by the equipping of the Ukrainian armed forces to defend successfully against the current forces arrayed against it in the east. An enclave will be formed in the Donbas as in Nagorno Karabagh, Northern Cyprus, the Kurdish Regional Government in Iraq, Abkhazia and Southern Ossetia and Transdniestria. It is messy, but it is the fact and in most cases destined to last a long time, as witness Kashmir. All Westphalian countries are threatened at this time by non-state actors (NSAs) and the struggle between and among states and NSAs is now raging.worldwide. Conflict among and between NSAs and among and between states will add complexity and confusion to the overall context. Those actors who cannot handle complexity and confusion will fail. Those which can, which include Chancellor Merkel and President Putin, are more likely to succeed, as long as their goals are limited in scope.