A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject.
A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.
1. Violated Ukraine's territorial integrity by seizing Crimea
2. Undermined Ukraine's internal stability by backing secessionist rebels in Ukraine
3. Supported Yanukovych, who was so corrupt that even pro-Russian Ukrainians despised him.
Russia behaving aggressively towards Ukraine is a surefire way to make Ukraine (as your link says, a previously nonaligned nation) attempt to ally itself with NATO.
Any direct conflict between the United States and Russia is highly unlikely, since there is no way that Putin can win (even in a nuclear conflict) unless he somehow allies with China against the US. NATO would smash Russia in any conventional war, and nuclear war would lead to the wholesale slaughter of both countries and isn't really in anyone's interest. The West had been infinitely more bold in attempting to undermine the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and nuclear conflict never occurred; it's unlikely that handing out cookies at a protest will cause a non-superpower to decide to go to war in this day and age.
Are you saying that this was the only way Moscow could have handled it? They couldn't have just fortified their base in Sevastopol? They couldn't have offered Ukraine a better economic option to compete with the EU?Russia is forced to be aggressive towards Ukraine because it is right on their border, because of the military significance of Crimea to Russian defense, and because it is a crucial point of transit for Russian energy supplies to Europe. It is a vital interest for Russia.
If that's how the Russians (incorrectly) feel about it, then they shouldn't be shocked and upset when Ukraine moves towards an anti-Russian defensive alliance as a natural consequence of their behavior.
The US also has the same ability to destroy the United States, as well as (if I recall correctly) anti-ballistic missiles. I highly dislike Putin, but I know that he's far too rational to think that a nuclear conflict will produce good results for anyone. If some crazy hardliner came into power, that would be a different story.The problem with your position is that it brushes aside the fact that Russia has the ability to destroy the United States, and that if pushed far enough, it is likely that they would consider using their nuclear weapons, because, as you have said, they cannot win a conventional war with the United States.
Crimea is illegally occupied by Russia