I have been trying to share a lot about the motivations of Putin and how they often are at counterpoint of the national interests of the U.S. and EU. But, unless we understand what Putin is about and what his actual grievances are, then we cannot avoid a war that might go nuclear eventually with him or his "Russian Empire".
President Obama likely considers himself as "Protector of the U.S. Empire" but that would not be politically correct to say now would it.
President Putin makes no bones about being a "protector and sustainer of the Russian Empire" including retaking old Russian Empire lands in Crimea. That may be against international law but likely so was the taking of Iraq by the U.S. and NATO. In both cases might makes right in the end.
I think to make full sense of this, imagine a country like Russia taking over Mexico for example. Would the U.S. stand for this? No. The wouldn't put up with Castro letting Soviet Nuclear missiles into Cuba either in 1962. I think you have to look at at the very least Crimea in this way too. It has been the only warm water port (outside of the one in Syria) that Russia has ever had (as far as I know) . So these two ports are the only ones they have that don't freeze over in the winters. That makes them very valuable for international shipping.
On the other hand, the U.S. doesn't want Russia to have these ports in Crimea because they are supplying weapons to Assad through these ports as well. So, there you have it strategically. I personally wish that Assad was gone and some new democratic government were in Syria rather than the mess we have now. But, this is the way things are for now.
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