There is evidence that Putin is trying to de-escalate the war with Ukraine.
Ukrainian secret services report that the Russian troops have moved away from the Ukrainian borders (albeit not very far).
The Russian ambassador has returned to Kiev.
Putin has actually referred to Yanukovich as “the former president of Ukraine.” This is a big deal because until now he’s been insisting that Yanukovich is still the only legitimate president.
Putin has met with Ukraine’s actual president Petro Poroshenko one on one. This meeting was kept secret from the citizens of Russia but it did happen.
Now, and this is important: the reason why Putin is (kind of, somewhat, a little) de-escalating is 100% regional. It is not in any way linked to Obama, Merkel, Western sanctions, or the Tooth Fairy.
Putin had obviously hoped for a Blitzkrieg in Ukraine. He committed the mistake of all intellectually challenged dictators and believed his own propaganda. He was sure that Ukrainians would be eager to become part of Russia and did not envision the possibility of a massive and passionate Ukrainian resistance to his invasion.
It has become clear now that Ukrainians will fight a guerrilla war if the invasion continues. And Ukrainian guerrillas are known for having defeated Hitler, which means that Putin stands no chance against them.
This is why he is now retracting and regrouping. This is a temporary lull in hostilities, of course. The goal of rising to the role of the world’s greatest superpower has not been abandoned.