George Friedman, director of STRATFOR, was invited to Moscow and, being a very smart observer and analyst he is, he made the following terse findings which he reported back in the US:
1. To kill the bear is better and much safer than only to wound him;
2. "the Russians will settle for a degree of autonomy" for Donbass; how much or how little of autonomy is not a key question;
3. the Russian government just needs to get out of it at least a "gesture ... affirming their significance."
4. The Russians then seem to be forgetting that "history is about power," not about gestures mainly;
5. Putin appears to be way to self-confident, which, in the scheme of things, "does not mean much;"
6. the Russian government does not want to make any other trouble for the US or the West anywhere (else);
In his reflection on his recent visit to Moscow, he wrote among other things:
"The more important question was what will come next. The obvious question is whether the Ukrainian crisis will spread to the Baltics, Moldova or the Caucasus. I raised this with the Foreign Ministry official. He was emphatic, making the point several times that this crisis would not spread. I took that to mean that there would be no Russian riots in the Baltics, no unrest in Moldova and no military action in the Caucasus. I think he was sincere. The Russians are stretched as it is. They must deal with Ukraine, and they must cope with the existing sanctions, however much they can endure economic problems. The West has the resources to deal with multiple crises. Russia needs to contain this crisis in Ukraine.
The Russians will settle for a degree of autonomy for Russians within parts of eastern Ukraine. How much autonomy, I do not know. They need a significant gesture to protect their interests and to affirm their significance. Their point that regional autonomy exists in many countries is persuasive. But history is about power, and the West is using its power to press Russia hard. But obviously, nothing is more dangerous than wounding a bear. Killing him is better, but killing Russia has not proved easy.
I came away with two senses. One was that Putin was more secure than I thought. In the scheme of things, that does not mean much."