Putin is ascending, insofar as he is expanding his and Russia’s power and sphere of influence. It continues to be unlikely that sanctions will drive him to the bargaining table. His popularity will grow, and the stakes will seem too high to directly oppose him. Thus, he will be successful with his strategy of territorial expansion in the name of refighting WWII. The West’s only response will be to whine and impose limited monetary and trade sanctions. What Putin offers back is a clear goal of Greater Russia that makes historical sense to his constituency. His behavior reveals a nuanced and polemical understanding of the trajectory of these historical forces and a willingness to play his hand out on the world stage.