It is certain that what is left of Ukraine, if there isn't a world war now, will push Ukraine to join NATO. Putin thinks his actions will prevent this happening. This is a great strategic mistake on his part. Adding eastern Ukraine onto Russia will make the rest of the Ukrainian people fearful.
A new cold war could result instead of a war, Probably a face off of missiles along the remaining Russian-Ukrainian border, much like North and South Korea. The thing is, Russia is a very small target. The West is a very large one. How can Russia possibly defeat the whole West. It isn't possible.
Russia is heading for further isolation that is pushing it backwards technologically. Furthermore, taking in eastern Ukraine will be a tremendous financial burden. Russians may like what he is doing now, but they will change when economic hardships begin. Note that the conflict has already pushed Russia into recession.
✴ Politics by Ty Buchanan ✴