I could be wrong , but I dont think Putin could break NATO , the Ukraine is yet unaligned , therefore open for annexation of the provinces that want to go to Russia . Whatever his plans are , you can bet that they have been thought out very carefully as to the European reaction . Look at Crimea , that was a different story , because they held an internationally monitored vote to join Russia . Agree with it or not ………this gave Putin legitimacy to take action , without repercussions . THe only ones still crying about that is the US , the Europeans dont care . If he takes the separatist provinces and stops there …………..its over , and he wins . He could point to that as restoring order to the region ………something NATO and the Europeans have not done . But whatever his goals are in that region , you can bet that the risks have been well considered , like any good Mafia boss would , weigh the Pro’s and Con’s for the action you are about to take . If US influence continues to decline , other things may be possible , but not until later . Putin may not look it , but he is getting old , his years in office are numbered . The next leader of the Russian Federation may be of an entirely different cut of cloth . Just Sayin .