Putin seems to have greatly miscalculated the Ukrainian people and army in its will to fight against all odds. In what was supposed to be a short war of not more than a week, has now lasted over 30 days, with no real ending in sight. What could Putin be thinking other than to continue to barrage and destroy cities killing many civilians into the stone age in order for them to acquiesce? Even that strategy does not seem to be very effective in breaking the will of the Ukrainians who have the full support of the world.
The myth of the mighty Russian juggernaut army has been exposed as a clumsy force that fails on many levels from the battlefield to its commanders. Maybe it is because the Russian soldiers are not invested into attacking former Russians now called Ukrainians.
What is left for Putin now? He has made sure that his population believes his lies about why Russia is conducting a special military operation to save Ukraine from Nazis (of all things!). He has demonstrated some of Russia's advanced weapons against cities. Now, even he must be thinking to himself this has turned into a fiasco of sorts and something totally unexpected. He must feel some embarrassment for Russia and his own ego. Even the extent of the sanctions caught him off guard as far as their depth. The one thing he was sure of was that NATO would be divided somehow and that went totally in an opposite direction! NATO has really been united like never before.
Putin's plan to seize key Ukrainian ports also has so far failed. With Ukrainian forces sinking a few of their landing craft trying to dock, this must be a total shock for him. It seems whatever he has tried to do has failed. While failed, the Russian army still is a real danger even should a stalemate set in for another month as cities are pummeled into oblivion. Maybe the current state of the war is a pause for Russia to once again re-supply and get more troops to finally finish the job of at least encircling Kyiv.
Time for either side can play against them. Both sides know this for different reasons in this David vs. Goliath fight. However, with Putin facing humiliation of losing a war to a small Ukrainian army just may push him over the edge in making desperate moves.
The Russians do have options of a dastardly nature. Using tactical nukes to demolish Ukrainian resistance is one. The attack would just be a local area of a city but still the contamination would be a danger to all sides. Putin could use deadly gas to have the same effect on unsuspecting Ukrainians and then attack those troops. It has worked in battles many times since WW1. That could be his next likely move. Either of the above cases would cause some sort of retaliation from the NATO countries, which remains unclear. Is this the red line that causes NATO boots into Ukraine or just more stiff sanctions? The gas option would be localized and dissipate in hours.
Another option would be to have Belarus attack towards the Lviv area to cut off the main resupply route for Ukrainians. It is actually a surprise this has not been already done, it seems like a basic thing for Russia to do strategy-wise. Perhaps Putin does not really trust the Belarus army that might refuse to invade. Russia may elect to conduct massive cyber warfare against NATO countries, but that would not solve his dilemma with his army unable to achieve objectives after 30 days and the stalemate that has resulted. The most unthinkable thing Putin might do is to negotiate to his advantage somehow, declare victory, and withdraw to the borders. Putin would never admit defeat.
The Putin war is awaiting his next moves. He must feel back into a corner of a mess he created and how can he still pull it off. This is a dangerous time for the world given the limited options he seems to have and the sanctions making it all for the worse.