If we want to assume anything, a wiser assumption might be that Putin intends to breathe life into the former Soviet Union. Like Attila the Hun, Napoleon, Hitler and others, Putin is not likely to be satisfied with one acquisition. Crimea will almost certainly only whet his appetite for more.
How realistic is Vladimir Putin’s claim he simply wants to protect Russian speaking people in Crimea? Isn’t this reminiscent of Adolph Hitler’s assertion to Neville Chamberlain he wanted only to unite all German speaking people? Unfortunately for Europe and much of the world, Chamberlain believed the Fuhrer and allowed German troops to invade the Sudetenland.
This served only to embolden Hitler and convince him the Allies didn’t have the will to oppose him. Surely it is foolish to assume power seeking individuals like Hitler and Putin will act in accordance with their words.
If there is an anaemic push back, he will conclude no nation has the will to stand in his way. Only a determined, united opposition by the G7 nations will thwart his ambition. Appeasement didn’t prevent WW 2 and it won’t prevent another even more devastating conflagration.