It appears to me that Russia’s behavior is largely the result of 20 years of angst over the loss of what the Russians thought was their patrimony in the non-Russian parts of what had been the Russian Empire and then the USSR. Central Asia, the Trans Caucasus, the Ukraine, the Crimea, the Baltics, the list is long.
The 90s were a hard, hard time for Russians, hard emotionally and very hard in terms of the reduction in what had already been a pitifully low standard of living under the Communists.
The boom in oil money has erased a lot of the economic hardship, but the scabs are still there over wounded national pride.
The United States has done little to help those wounds heal. Instead, we have insisted on measures like; the missile shield system in former Warsaw Pact countries. The Russians are neither stupid nor unsophisticated. They know that the difference between the defensive and offensive meanings of most weapons systems lie wholly in the intention of the possessor.
At the same time, we have pushed the boundaries of NATO as close to Russia’s shrunken borders as we could manage to do. NATO was always an anti-Soviet alliance. It was a necessary and useful thing. Now, the Russians see NATO pushed right up to their frontiers. Surprise! They now see NATO as an anti-Russian alliance. Its expansion is viewed as a symbol of their continuing humiliation.
The Deal: No expansion of NATO on the borders of Russia in return for a commitment on the part of Russia that there will be no further introduction of Russian Republic forces or "volunteers" into former parts of the USSR that are now independent. pl