National interest? Whose nation? Whose interest? The question of Russian national interest is not so easily framed.
Correctly, Sisci points to the way in which certain of Putin’s constituents conceive of their interest and identify it with Russia’s. He also notes that this is not conducive to the welfare of most Russians. True. Alas, so what?
A compromise on Ukraine is there to be had. Putin is not interested. He has his own ideas about what Russia’s interest, defined as grandeur, requires.
My first venture into the practice of international affairs involved, at age 23 in 1966, attending an Airlie House conference at which U.S. officials tried again and again to tell Soviets about the evils of Missile Defense and the glories of MAD. The Soviets, having not yet learned to keep their laughter under their breath, argued back: How can you Americans see your national interest in exposing yourselves to devastation? Good question.
And yet they did.
Hence it seems to me that David’s question is not useful.