Well, I think there's plenty of other possible scenarios besides the aggressive Putin one. Like I wonder how sick and tired he must be of the West constantly inching closer and closer to his actual borders, and from many directions? I wonder how he feels about this ongoing, Nazi like coup in Ukraine backed by the U.S.?
How might Western leaders feel were the roles reversed? (Hint: Hair on fire.)
Maybe he does have eyes on taking back Ukraine, from his point of view that wouldn't at all be an evil, warmongering type of interest that the West just loves to portray his every thought and move as. What if he just took back Ukraine and called it a day, then what?
Or maybe he's just looking for a little respect, flexing a little muscle as if to warn "hey, back the fuck off, you can only push me so far. I can be a force to be reckoned with as well, maybe this will get your attention."
So yeah. Catastrophism seems to be all in vogue these days, every blip on the world radar screen picked up and run with like the sun may not rise tomorrow. I think it's right up the ally of Western propaganda to give a pass to any and all cases of U.S. aggressions, while screaming bloody murder that the sky is falling whenever an adversary farts too loudly. A bit of exaggeration there, but quite possibly not by all that much.
Anyway, my 2 cents there. Time always tells of course. But my prediction is no start to WW3 here.