As Garry Kasparov put it, while the West is playing chess, responding tactically to each turn of events, Putin is playing high-stakes poker. We ignore Putin at our own peril.
I totally agree. Mr. Putin has an inherent advantage in dealing with the west. He knows that he can sell the pain caused by his idiotic policies to the populace. The public believes that the pain is the fault of the west, not him. And with that assurance, he is in a position to withstand the damage caused by sanctions and falling oil prices — at least until his gold runs out. His hope is that western resolve will crumble before then.