If his news conference of December 18, 2014 is any indication then President Putin, in addition to economic & financial problems, is still not understanding the problem of Southeast Ukraine as explained below:-
(1)- The economic & financial problems which Russia is facing (mainly due to fall in petroleum prices and Western sanction related to Ukraine crises) are the same which so many other countries are facing and unless Russia do the following it will not come out of these problems:-
(i)- Like India in Russia also Central Bank has become de-facto Finance Minister where interest rates is allowed to become the major instrument for tackling inflation etc. Instead of changing interest rate all the time it should be kept at maximum (say) 4 % per year which should be sufficient to take care of overheads of financial / lending / banking institutions. If a country like Russia (which once was the major element of a socialist country in the form of USSR) needs to be taught lessons about perilous effect of usury then it should be saddest day for mankind.
(ii)- Like India [where Union handles practically every subject like roads (in some villages), power, health, natural resources, education, railways (even other than national) etc] Russia also instead of Federalism is practicing centralization and like India does not understand that Center is supposed to deal only with martial matters whereas States with civilian matters (mainly economic). With the result like India Russia has also started showing the sign of martial deficiency as is evident from its inability to understand Ukraine crises
(iii)- Like India Russia has also inherited the predatory Western financial / monetary system, where State -capital is squandered (which was the main reason for collapse of USSR) and fake money system is given credence and recognition (in India too despite Article 292 & 293 of Constitution State - capital is looted and squandered). Though Russia is having comparatively less public debt to GDP ratio but Russia is not understanding that it is also working within this predatory monetary system of West and which is now causing major currency / financial problem for Russia (including present steep fall in Ruble value). Unless Russia takes initiative (which may be emulated in second stage by BRICS) to launch currency with proper asset back-up (of precious metals, land and landed properties) under the physical and constructive possession of money issuing authority (Central Bank), Russia will not come out of this crises easily.
(2)- The military problems which presently Russia is facing can be solved if :-
(i)- Russia stops thinking that NATO wants to grab its Siberian and other resources. Geography is destiny and once USSR dismantled, naturally splintered countries bordering NATO will try to merge in militarily powerful NATO. What Russia should do is to use the similar advantage of geography and should work for "Federal Secular Democratic United States of RUSSIND" or with any other suitable name [comprising Russia, some former USSR countries and India, preferably SAARC] as I mentioned at http://english.pravda.ru/opinion/columnists/10-12-2014/129261-russia_india-0/
(ii)- Russia does not understand the Ukraine problem. Russia should know that now entire Crimea, Donetsk, Luhansk region (Novorossiya) either will remain with Russia or with Ukraine. Therefore Putin should not be surprised if Russia’s unnecessary initiatives like the Minsk agreements failed. Russia is not understanding a simple fact that on the basis of referendum, when Russian speaking Ukrainians of Crimea could go to Russia then why Donetsk and Luhansk region will not try the same - Especially when they (and thousands of mainland Russians who are there at the call of their heart and are not mercenaries as they, as per Putin, are not getting paid for it) have shed so much of blood and given so many lives and endured so much hardship for this merger with Russia. Putin’s argument, that Crimea is special because it was part of Russia, is untenable in view of Budapest Memorandum of 1994. Therefore now whether Russia likes it or not but it will have to take rest of Novorossiya militarily, sooner than later.
Putin need not be apologetic about taking over of Novorossiya militarily, because as he said during his news conference of December 18, 2014 too that - “[The problem is that after the government coup by military means, part of Ukraine did not agree with these developments]”. Hence Russia is very much within its legal rights to assimilate rest of Novorossiya militarily in Russia. As far reaction of NATO to such military take over by Russia of rest of Novorossiya, it is most likely to be conciliatory if Putin handles this matter diplomatically and tactfully.