I think I didn't make my point, because your answer appears to suggest a different problem.
Russia has a serious medium to long term problem on its south-eastern border. As in a problem that is liable to blow in its face in a decade or two. This is not an immediate threat, nor is there a potential for "anti Russian alliance". This would be a Sino-Russian event. I will readily agree that there is no immediate threat there after 2004 solution. Both Russia and China have other problems in short term to deal with on other borders that they would prefer to stick to.
Considering their mutual history, any Russian leader worth his salt should and would be very worried.
I am once again confused how "knocking us out" would improve Russia's positions on its other borders. Military theory suggests the exact opposite - it would have to commit a significant chunk of its military and political power to first conquest, then pacification and containment for decades afterwards. All to grab a large part of one of the least inhabited countries in the world that has minimal strategic value.
I would understand your suggestion if we were talking something like Lithuania, which offers more direct access to European mainland as well as Russian mainland and is fairly containable in terms of size. But Finland? That's just not a strategically sound conclusion in my eyes.
I want to clarify this point: Finland's security has been carried on two key elements:
1. Very believable defence and promise of extremely difficult containment after potential loss.
2. Low strategic value.
On your next point, we are largely in agreement on your assessment of Ukrainian crisis. My only point of contention is that it wasn't that he chose this path, but he was forced on it because that last round of expansion simply offered him no real alternatives. I've heard quite a few European diplomatic bureaucrats give interviews on smaller media sites like vice news weeks after the overthrow and Russia's reaction that "honestly, we fucked it up, because in retrospect it was obvious that we pushed Russia too far into the corner, as they have indeed warned us about this for several years".
You can probably still find relevant coverage, through with all the noise on the issue it would be time consuming.
As for weapon usage, it was actually well known that his troops were using things like riot shotguns. Those are basically standard pump action shotguns but with holes in the sides of barrels which enable them to fire rubber bullets at low velocity. There were some reports of police having to contain armed looters in the city (and there was video footage of this at times) where they faced well armed criminals. But that was typically armed police surrounding a single building. We have a lot of footage of the actual large crowd events, and those don't show these weapons being used.
Infamous snipers only appeared in final days, when Yanukovich was no longer in control of the city, and miraculously didn't hit a single important person of Maidan movement. Most of whom were in the open on the streets. All they killed was about a hundred of nobodies. Which just continued the line of "just enough to rile the crowd, nowhere near enough to contain it". Which is frankly odd for snipers who are specifically trained to take out VIPs in the crowd, not shoot at the nobodies in crowd.
As a point of comparison, Beltway sniper was operating in a peaceful environment where there was no large scale civil uprising that effectively paralysed all policing activity just to contain it.
And I just wanted to point out that militarization of police is a separate issue from racial tensions in US. SWAT killing innocent people by accident and police using significant force suppressing demonstrations happens regardless of race. It just so happens that latest bout of demonstrations happen to feature overwhelmingly black crowds.
Occupy was anything but and it met even more brutal of a fate, because direct news coverage was largely limited to non-mainstream channels.
On your last point, I would have agreed with you if not for one problem. Democracy results in virulently anti-Western government in places where colonialism remains problematic. I find that being the main factor behind the Latin America managing to free itself from vassalisation by US. To put it simply, nothing unites people like a common enemy, and decades of brutal oppression by a single party makes it a very easy thing to band against.
Iran's fate was largely an earlier show of the same problem. After Shah's rule anyone who opposed US, the biggest supporter of Shah would get people's genuine support.
In this regard, Chinese approach appears to be more successful. When they vassalise/colonise, they typically do not attempt to force government change. They specifically run a policy of "locals get to figure out among themselves what kind of government they want, we just want the economic deals that benefit us".
Which is why they are able to function in Greece just as well as they function in East Africa.
You have to remember that for overwhelming majority of the world, it's largely irrelevant what societal structure the global hegemon dominating their government has. It's not going to be democratic for THEM - because having people across the ocean vote for a leader that decides how your country is run is no more democratic than a dictator from across the ocean doing the same thing. That is why much of the developing world talks about multipolarisation of the world and appears to be largely betting on China to provide a counterweight for US. Even large and functional democratic states like Brazil are making this bet. It's simply a realistic bet on the fact that having two hegemons with different systems and agendas means that they will spend more attention on grinding each other down and less attention dominating the rest of the world.
The obvious counter-argument of "but Latin America during Cold War" fails here for a somewhat non-obvious reason: US domination of Latin America basically carried on as long as it could. But as states like Iran demonstrate, such rule is unstable and once sufficient amount of bad will is generated and people are sufficiently united, loss of control is largely inevitable. In case of Latin America, they have an added boon of having emerged democratic, which makes them more resistant to another bout of vassalisation, as easy method of investment in a single leader would not work for long.
It's not like US stopped trying to dominate the continent. Assassination attempts on Chavez are not exactly best kept secret, nor is huge support for specific parties in states like Brazil and Equador. But it just doesn't work all that well after a certain threshold is reached. It seems that modern state systems as a whole develop resistance to outside pressure of specific kind after being exposed to it for prolonged period of time.
I've heard modern historians suggest that concept of nationalism, which is only about two centuries old in its current form appears to simply have made most states heavily resistant to outside pressure and made large invasions and colonisation/vassalisation of old into far more costly projects than they used to be, because individuals actually feel like a part of the state, rather than simply people who don't care about leadership beyond their immediate vicinity.