"Haha, I should have known that would go over your head."
It went over my head because it makes absolutely no sense. Your argument is that NATO's only response to a Russian invasion is nuclear. That's obviously nonsense, if Russia carries out an invasion of a NATO nation in this manner NATO can simply respond in kind, either by say, fuelling Chechen separatism, or by similarly supporting the Estonians - mostly just giving enough weaponry to make such an invasion costly enough for the Russians to change their mind is sufficient. This basically describes pretty much every proxy battle in the cold war - nuclear war didn't happen, why do you think that's different now and the nuclear option is the only option? It isn't, you're simply spouting nonsense.
"Yes, and children are "involved" in their parents' decision making. I don't think that level of autonomy is something particularly attractive to most Russians."
Yes, as we've seen with Putin's regime, Russians prefer something much more restrictive and dictatorial. At least you got that bit right.
"Plus, how could something Putin learned when invading Georgia in 2008 have prevented him from doing something
before that? Does he have a time machine or something?"
No, but obviously if nothing else, Putin isn't stupid. Before 2008 he knew full well his military wasn't upto it, he assumed it would be in 2008 and found that it still wasn't. This isn't really rocket science, I'm amazed you're struggling with it. The average person wouldn't, much less someone with even a modicum of intelligence above that.
"Yeah, but your refusal to consider another perspective has "Made in USA" printed on it in red, white, and blue."
Here's the real problem - you're the only one bringing the USA into this over and over. You're the typical type of person whose view is formed something like "Afghanistan and Iraq were bad, therefore, the US is bad. Russia hates the US, therefore, Russia is good". Obviously that's the height of ignorant dumb-think because it's a fundamental fallacy. But you're excelling at demonstrating that in your oh so binary world that the only factors are either loving Russia and hating the US, or loving the US and hating Russia. Some of us are capable of seeing the billion shades of grey in between - don't think all of us are constrained by the same type of binary dumb-think that you are clearly displaying. It's perfectly possible for someone to think that both Russia and the US have done a lot wrong - the fact you don't get that shows you're a personal that suffers from serious problems of bias, ignorance and partisanship.
"He's a guy that wants democratic reform. Of course he doesn't like Putin, why would he. But what does that have to do with what we're talking about? "
Oh keep up. You asked how I could know what Putin's thoughts are - I point out it's quite simple, you simply read things from people whom he has expressed them to and who is aware of them. I pointed to one such person, again, it's not difficult.
"Unless what you're saying is that it would be preferable to you if Russia was run by people who didn't care about their strategic weaknesses and security, which I guess I agree with. I mean, lots of people would be really happy if some of the pre-Soviet imperial conquests broke off."
Honestly, I don't care what Russia does as long as it only acts either within it's borders, or outside it's borders with consent. I think the US invasion of Iraq was completely and utterly wrong, and I despise the US for it because it's clear the fucking mess in that part of the middle east still stems from that. Similarly however I despise the fact Russia has invaded and annexed the territory of a foreign sovereign nation, whilst simultaneously admitting to committing war crimes in the process (putting civilians at risk by pretending your soldiers are civilian is a self-admitted breach of the Geneva convention by Putin).
If Russians want to sit all paranoid that's fine, but that doesn't give them the right to dictate what their neighbours can and cannot do any more than the US can - if you have a problem with the US but not with Russia, then your worldview is fundamentally broken, because Russia is guilty of all the US' wrongs and then some.
But when your worldview is fundamentally broken in that way, it's not terribly surprising that you're also saying things that are either naive to what went on during the cold war, or simply make no sense requiring the enforcement of false choices. Fallacies are of course the only way you can fix the paradoxes in your mind that your broken, nonsensical and hypocritical worldview has inherently created.