As 2022 nears, the West is trying to figure out Russian President Vladimir Putin's next move on a complex geopolitical chessboard -- and preparing an "aggressive package" of sanctions, should he decide to make another land grab in Ukraine. Tensions are now at their highest since 2014, when Russia illegally annexed Crimea and dispatched "little green men" into Ukraine's Donbas region. An all-out land invasion of Ukraine is now a real possibility.
But let's face it. Putin could care less about the West's threats, sitting as he does in the enviable position of being able to call the shots. Europe is in the grip of an energy crisis with low reserves. And with Russia supplying some 40% of the European Union's gas imports, the Kremlin has already shown its ability to checkmate the West's harshest sanctions by limiting production and potentially triggering rolling blackouts across the continent.