For all we know, Putin has already done a lot of the following things, but here's just a partial list:
1. Launch another attack on Ukraine or another neighboring nation
2. Cut off energy supplies to the rest of Europe
3. Launch an all-out cyber war on Western and U.S. companies and government agencies
4. Nationalize foreign-owned or -controlled businesses inside Russia
The question is: do the White House and NATO realize the situation? Does Wall Street?
Despite some political bluster from President Obama after the hostilities began in last spring, I still think we're dealing with an administration that thinks that light sanctions and negotiations will be enough to keep things from getting out of hand. Remember, this is still the president who told Putin's top lieutenant back in early 2012 that he'd have "more flexibility" to deal with Russia "after my re-election." He's also still the president who mocked Mitt Romney during the election for saying Russia was a serious foreign-policy threat. And while John Kerry is now at the helm, this is still the same State Department that thought then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pressing a make believe "reset button" was a good — and appropriate — response to a tyrant like Putin.
The Obama team's lack of vigilance has almost been matched by Wall Street's. Most of the discussions about Russia's ability to drag our markets down centered around the Ukraine crisis earlier this year, with little talk about the overall stability of the nation and Kremlin itself. Only people like Hermitage Capital CEO Bill Browder took the appropriate tone when he started sounding the alarm bells in 2006 about Putin's corrupt government and accomplices in the domestic Russian business world.
I'm still not sure that enough people in Washington and on Wall Street have yet grasped this reality: Romney was right. Browder was right. There is almost nothing Putin hasn't already done to stay in power already.
Just imagine what he'll do now that he's been poked with a very sharp stick.
Commentary by Jake Novak, supervising producer of "Street Signs." Follow him on Twitter @jakejakeny.