The Kremlin is attempting to impose a massive military buildup on Ukraine’s border with bold security demands. This has given it a new relevance, but also given one or more to the Western alliance.

One of the most enduring images from the Ukraine Crisis was Russian President Vladimir Putin hosting an open door for Western leaders at the other side of a large marble table.

Regardless of whether Putin invades his neighbor or not, he has undeniably attracted the attention of Europe, the Biden administration, and whose hopes of focusing more on China than Russia have been dashed.

Russia threatened a full scale invasion of a democratic European nation. This has created a new normal on the continent. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg stated last week that Russia is open to contesting the region’s borders and values.

He made the harsh assessment that Putin had already “made the decision to attack Ukraine,” and President Joe Biden said Friday that Putin was “focused on convincing the world that he can change the dynamics of Europe”.

Some experts and officials say that Putin may not be having it all his own way. His implied threats have given a new purpose to NATO. The transatlantic alliance is broadly united in its condemnation against Moscow.

The Kremlin is attempting to impose a large military buildup at Ukraine’s borders, as well as bold security demands.

James Nixey (director of Chatham House’s Russia-Eurasia program, a London thinktank), said that Putin has an accomplishment under his belt.

“On the contrary, he has placed himself in a very difficult situation whereby he’s made several demands and if they aren’t met — which he won’t — it will be seen as failure.”

The United States and its allies claim they have solid intelligence that war is imminent. This has been met with criticism in Kyiv and ridicule in Moscow . Moscow denies that the 150,000 plus Russian troops positioned around Ukraine will be used to attack the former Soviet republic.

Putin has much to lose, no matter which path he chooses in the next days.

Even if he does not hold back his troops, the mere threat to war has seen the French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, as well as British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss rush to Moscow to try to defuse the crisis.

Diplomacy efforts have led to some tentative agreements on limited demands such as arms control, transparency regarding military exercises, and transparency.

All of this gives Russia a huge influence. Russia has a lower gross domestic product than Canada, a smaller military budget than NATO, and an international position that is long gone from the hegemonic struggle between the U.S.A. and the ex-Soviet Union.

Putin may see the stakes as existential. He wants to prevent Ukraine and its former Soviet neighbours from being more aligned with the democratic West.

The U.S. and other countries would rather concentrate on China and its true clout, which only gets stronger.

Fabrice Pothier, a senior consultant at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, said that he received some attention which he was afraid to lose.

“But once that face time is yours, what are you going to do with it?”

All that attention did not come without consequences.

Putin has mobilized NATO, which was until now struggling to find meaning and purpose after its Cold War defeat.

The alliance sent 5,000 troops to Poland and Lithuania as a response to Ukraine’s buildup. It also announced Wednesday that it was preparing plans to deploy troops in Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary, marking the biggest shift in its position since Russia’s annexation in 2014.

According to Ben Hodges (retired Lt. Gen.), former commander of the U.S. Army Europe, “He is getting plenty attention all right — not the type he wants.”

NATO looks more united than ever since 1995. Germany is seeking to reduce its dependence on Moscow for natural gases. Sweden and Finland are openly considering joining the alliance, Hodges stated. “This crisis is completely manufactured by the Kremlin.”

Russia has used assassinations and cyberattacks to aid its foreign ventures. However, Russia now seems to be insinuating a complete invasion of a democracy neighbor without any provocation.

This would be a significant step that would signal “the end to the post-cold warfare and the beginning of something significantly and tragically different,” according to Gerard Araud (French Ambassador to the U.S.), on Tweet.

Putin will not win any attention, no matter how much he tries to get it. He is unlikely to ever convince NATO to grant his central demands that Ukraine be excluded from the alliance and that the U.S. and other countries reduce their presence in Eastern Europe.

According to analysts, Russia’s president could appear weak if he resigns militarily without having reached this goal. Analysts worry that this increases the likelihood of war.

There are also huge risks if Putin attacks Ukraine. There is the possibility of being a victim to a long-running, costly conflict.

“But if NATO demands that it pull back to 1997 positions, which is simply not possible, and you don’t want war, then that’s a hard thing to spin your wheels out of,” Nixey from Chatham House stated. “Necessitating NATO to pull back on Kyiv militarily puts Putin in a diplomatically, and even politically, weaker position both at home and abroad.”

The West might be afraid that the Russian leader made the same calculation.