This is unfortunately consistent with Putin’s disastrous grand strategy over the past year, which is to:
Improvise when an opportunity presents itself;
Escalate in response to criticism;
Find himself cornered;
Escalate somewhere else.
It’s because Putin’s strategy is so risky and flawed that Russia is dangerous. Indeed, this should be the one area of agreement between those who want to confront Putin aggressively and those who do not. For example, I doubt that Vox’s Max Fisher and Commentary’s Noah Rothman agree on much. Nonetheless, Fisher was correct to warn over the summer about how Russian weakness could lead to a militarized conflict with the United States.