Fyodor Lukyanov, editor-in-chief of Russia in Global Affairs, writes of Vladimir Putin:
...the March 18 speech he gave in Crimea was definitely in the nationalist/romance genre as opposed to a work of realism. Putin appealed to Russians as a divided people, emphasizing national values. Bringing ideology into politics, especially romantic nationalism, commits a leader, tying his hands.
A pragmatist can react flexibly when circumstances change. But romantic rhetoric, even when used as an instrument, can’t be so quickly cast off. It plays on the emotions, which can bring about a strong element of irrationalism, which is something Putin has always tried to avoid in his foreign policy.
Putin’s departure from his usual realistic approach thrust Russia into a serious international crisis.
Earlier in the piece, Fyodor Lukyanov wrote:
...after Putin’s return to power in 2012, he saw the West, primarily the United States, as the main destabilizing force in the world. This wasn’t due to anti-Russian sentiment in Washington or Brussels (Putin considered that obvious in any case), but to the West’s thoughtless and arrogant interference in one situation after another, destroying the foundations of national governance.
Fyodor thinks that it was a slip to deviate from the cold realpolitik. Similarly, I questioned Putin's having revved up the troops so to speak only to appear to tone it all completely down. See: When Donetsk & Luhansk Fall, Will Sanctions Against Russia Be Lifted?
What I'm finding now is the middle ground. Vladimir Putin is doing and saying what he must in his shoes to make clear that 1) above all, Russia will defend Russia (and Russians if needs be wherever they may be, if the West won't come to its senses) and 2) Russia doesn't want war but is working for global peace and progress without Western decadence/moral decay corrupting Russia from without and within.
The combination of these concepts I term here the Putin Doctrine.
In hindsight, he has played it masterfully. Russia's aid convoy is not only practical and needed and necessary, it's genius in the way it has so far unfolded. It makes Barack Obama's policies and actions vis-a-vis Russia and Ukraine appear barbaric by comparison.
I credit Vladimir Putin with having grown immensely in office. I can't say the same of Barack Obama. Obama is not making the same errors in Iraq that he made in Libya (when he followed Hillary Clinton's dreadful advice), but he's still not even close to being up on Putin's level.
Putin doesn't have a perfect history. Who does? I don't, and neither do you. I don't like militarism; but he is the leader of Russia, and there are people in the West who have had their violent and greedy sights on Russia for centuries. None of it is lost on Putin.
Vladimir Putin's recent statements making clear that he wants peace, not war, not military conquest, not even close, and his actions with the humanitarian convoy to Eastern Ukraine, which is utterly transparent and obviously not concealing anything, should be accepted by the American people at face value. They are not tricks. He is being genuine. Is that why so many American politicians hate him? That's part of it.