One important historical fact about Russia is that Russia is a unique civilizational empire built upon defense not offense. What this means is that historically, Russia does not start the wars, or series of wars (though it may strike first in a confrontation that is punctuated by a series of wars). In Russian history, Russian leaders, since Russia's baptism to Orthodoxy, have tried hard to avoid war with our neighbors, though just about every time this has failed. In parallel, as much as we do not like war, and in Orthodoxy killing in combat is still a sin as we do not have the heresy of Just War, we are very very good at killing and destroying. A paradox, but it is the reality.
This was so profound that in the summer of 1914, the Tsar Nicholas II, when war was eminent, even haulted mobilization to try and defuse the situation one more time and talk the Austrians and Germans out of what would become the great tragedy of early 20th century.
The problems with modern, and in truth historical, Western politicos is that these guys are absolute fools with no understanding of the Russian psyche and are sure to be the cause of WW3, be it intentional or accidental. They are projecting their psyche onto Russians.
What this means is that they are projecting a typical negative reinforcement mentality. Europe and the US are societies built on constant aggression towards neighbors. Aggression like that is staved by building up a credible large counter force of allies and blocks, which causes fear of defeat and deescalation...your typical European balance of forces approach.
Russia is a defensive empire, that is, most wars or series of wars were not started by Russians but by enemies attacking or massing on Russia's borders. After 800 years of almost non-stop aggression by Europeans, Russia does not tolerate any enemy massing on her borders in what appears as a preparation for invasion or the creation of large scales basing areas as would be a US neo-con dominated Ukraine.This is also coupled with the Russian approach of not abandoning Russians (ethnic or cultural) and allies, as opposed to Anglo society where back stabbing allies when the opportunity to earn exists, is a prized skill.
As such, this is a spiral approach. Any escalation by the foreigners will lead to a direct escalation by Russia and not deescalation. Balance of power does not work when Russia feels her survival threatened. Enough of an enemy escalation in the hope of forcing Russia to back off will generate an exact opposite effect in generating a first strike and total war, as Russia feels her life and existence is threatened by the enemy.
Nothing like putting Russian society in a threatened siege mentality to force the individual chaotic Russian nature to crystallize into one direction: total destruction of the threat and the states that generate it.
Russia's army may be only 1 million but the ready reserve is over 20 million with a follow capability of total mobilization of over 40 more million, and maybe more if one starts counting female combatants and one should.
Last time the factories were run by children, old people and women. Now with massive automation, even more of society is freed up to fight. Since Russian civilization is not just land but a cultural idea/philosophy it generates an absolute fanatical loyalty. This is a loyalty to a culture that allows the temporary surrender of land for time in the understanding that this will then be used, combined with non-stop partisan warfare, to grind down the invader and decimate him deep in the Russian interior, before marching on his cities and burning them to the ground in revenge.
Europe needs to find some German or Romanian veterans and ask them how much fun they had. Mamal Kurgan, the highest hill in Volgorad (Stalingrad) a 1,5 km sq area had 35.000 identifiable bodies on it, half of them German, after 4 months of fighting. That is more than both sides lost on the beaches of Normandy. In WW2 the Germans were on average having 1 soldier killed every 30 seconds. Figure 3-4 times as many wounded.
The present serving armies of NATO would be used up in 3-4 months. That would amount to almost a million and a half dead and wounded.
NATO would collapse. Greeks would refuse to fight. Serbs would be a war in the middle of all this. Cypriots would refuse to fight. Turkey would likely also refuse to die in a war they could only loose from. Bulgaria would probably have a revolution. Romania and Italy and Spain and Portugal would not long suffer heavy casualties before their unpopular governments were overthrown. France more than likely also. US couldn't fully concentrate their army as they would have to release their grip on all other sectors which in turn would be blowing up.
As for a second front, that is, if America was to invade the Russian far east, well, outside of grabbing Sakhalin and Vladivastok and Khabarovsk, all of which will cost hundreds of thousands of corpses, a US invasion force would be faced with a march of 3000km, or about 1,800 miles to the nearest major oil fields and forced to cover a land area larger then the continental United States, in wilderness terrain, with Russian partisans and the very cold Siberian winter (8 months long) filling the corpse lists on a daily basis. In other words, outside of a temporary land grab, nothing to fear.
Also if things got bad China would step in knowing they are next on the hit list, and thus Siberia would be fairly safe from US forces.
The reality, Americans, Germans, and foolish Poles, is, Russians will fight and 152 million people will fight to the end, not because Putin sits in power, or because we fear the enemy, but because love of Russia, the very idea of Russia, will drive fanatical, well trained and armed with advanced weaponry resistance. Russians will fight regardless of who sits the throne, because we are not fighting for the leader but for Christ and for Russia, the land He gave us as the Third Rome. What exactly will you be fighting for?