As I noted two days ago, not major war, but the deployment of Russian forces inside occupied Donbas after a kinetic exchange on the contact line is the most likely course of Kremlin aggression. Under this likely variant, there will follow a decision to recognize the two “states” by Vladimir Putin (thanks, Russian Duma,for your display of “‘love and concern” for the 100s of thousands of newly-minted Russian citizens living there). The two now-recognized independent ‘states’ will then ask for Russian troops to be deployed inside their territory to “prevent a genocide” by Ukraine. There will follow the deployment of tens of thousand of Russian troops now massed on the border. A de facto major invasion of Ukraine. But will it trigger punishing sanctions?. It should.
P.S. I also am not predicting this will happen. I am suggesting this — not a major invasion of heartland Ukraine — is the most likely scenario of Russian aggression based on the scale of forces on the border and the discourse in the Russian state media. The fact this variant was not dominant in the discourse about Russian intentions is a failure of data interpretation by the analytic community.