Putin's opportunism in moving troops near and into Ukraine territory acts as the fiercest gauntlet to the post-Cold War settlement yet seen. Based upon notions of a 'sphere of influence', the rash of articles and statements in recents days devoted to the dismemberment of that country reveals some of the 'justifications' for domestic and international consumption.
Yet, if Russia effects an invasion, even in a limited form, this will be a consequence of confusion in US foreign policy. The vacillation and conflicted decisions arising from the Obama administration has left other powers confused or hungry. Why sould Russia listen to the United States now? Who has the boots on the ground?
However, the Ukraine is not Georgia and the risks of conflict are far higher. Breaking the territorial integrity of a near neighbour will backfire. How can others trust a large power if it undertakes a revisionist aggrandisement of territory? Other countries in East and South East Asia will note the correspondences with Chinese salami tactics and conclude that appeasement achieves nothing. This has set the scene for possible war.