He is going to escalate. The huge prize for him is to test the credibility of Nato while Obama is still in office. (emphasis added)Withers? NATO dies, period. Note the British usage of not capitalizing all letters in the acronym for North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
That worry is shared by many, especially in the Baltic states with Russian minorities. Four-fifths of Estonia’s fortress town of Narva are ethnic Russians, and they live within sight of the border. An incident could flare up at any time. (see map here)
The nightmare scenario is if ‘little green men’ appear in one of the Baltics, and it then invokes Nato’s Article V [mutual defence clause],” says Ian Bond, the former British ambassador to Latvia and now at the Centre for European Reform. Any dispute may be murky. Yet if Nato ever fails to uphold an Article V plea, the alliance withers.
Evans-Pritchard agrees that Putin believes he can back down Obama. Ironically, Europeans who formerly praised Obama's cautious foreign policy now see him as an unreliable protector of their interests and sovereignty.