I’m inclined to agree with David Brooks who, in his linked NY Times column, suggests that Putin did in fact blink: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/28/opinion/friedman-putin-blinked.html?ref=international&comments#commentsContainer. The blinking analogy here is that when Soviet ships, approaching the US Navy Blockade in October of 1962, promptly turned around and left. The Soviet Union, during the famous “Missiles of October” stand-off, had been in the process of installing ICBMs in Cuba (just 90 miles from Miami). Nikita Khrushchev’s decision to leave prompted Secretary of State Dean Rusk to suggest that: “We’re eyeball to eyeball, and I think the other fellow just blinked.”
Mr. Brooks’ analysis seems quite logical. Russia needs “hard” currency, especially since Europe has started to seek other sources of Gas. Its economy is crumbling, Inflation continues to rise and foreign investment has vanished. Putin travelled to Beijing recently to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping, to make a deal for Gazprom’s Gas and, thus, replace the vital marketable currency that Russia needs so desperately
Several of the former Soviet Republics have maintained their alliance with Russia; however, more have left and joined the E. U. or seem to be applying for Membership. As Russia’s aggressive behavior had accelerated, its economy weakened further–especially the Rubel and its Stock Market. When it backed-off from its bellicose actions, however, that process reversed somewhat. So, in effect, the sanctions have been working.
NOTE: I remember that Cold War Stand-off very well. As a high school senior, like many other teens my age, I didn’t know if I would be graduating in June, or be stationed somewhere in the Army. It truly could have led to World War III.