In the first Gulf war, the USA took the opportunity to test all the new toys against Saddam’s Russian-supplied arms. It was no contest.
In this war, the shoe is on the other foot: Russian president Putin is convinced that within a decade, if not even sooner, Russia will have a direct conflict with the West (NATO/USA). It is a battle for which he has been in preparation. So, now he is testing. As just one example, those new air defense systems his troops now use in Ukraine obviously were not purchased down at the lakeside bait and tackle shop. Neither were the new Strela rocket systems found at the Army Surplus store.
Putin is banking on “sooner than later,” and that is one reason why he do not seem to care how much suffering goes on at home–because when the real battle begins, he is confident that the Russian people will see the wisdom of his planning and foresight.
Russia is taking her time in a two-pronged strategy because they have a lot of new toys:
– Testing and training exercises within her own borders, but close to Ukraine.
– Then sending in select units across the border to gain live action experience after the training exercises. That is why there are frequent rotations of Russian regulars in and out of Ukraine.
That being said, Putin has no motivation for a negotiated settlement, unless it is strongly in his favour. He is practicing for a much bigger battle ahead. The Ukrainians are the JV, and his forces are the Varsity. He will practice and perfect his Army’s abilities until either he wins, or he is forced to go home.
The fact remains that control of the whole of Ukraine is important for Putin’s Eurasian Economic Union. There are a number of ways to realize that control, and marching into Kyiv, a costly adventure, will not be necessary if the EU hands him Ukraine on a platter.