The Russian president has been accused of all manner of grand national and self-aggrandising schemes, from the annexation of Crimea to the occupation of Georgia in 2008. But Mr Putin’s ultimate ambition may be more routine and humble than ambitious territorial claims. A geopolitical expert specialising in Russia’s domestic and foreign agenda told Express.co.uk that Mr Putin had his own deeply personal goal to accomplish.
Keir Giles, of London’s Royal Institute of International Affairs, explained: “For Putin, obviously he needs to ensure his own personal survival.
“The survival of his fortune and of his family.
“And that will be what is primarily dictating how he arranges the succession.
“But, of course, the main objective for any Russian leader has to be one of those few Russian leaders that actually survives the end of their tenure.”
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Mr Giles also explained Putin’s prioritising of his personal over his national legacy is just one of several ways in which the West has consistently misunderstood Russia.
He continued: “The West persistently tries to reset relations with Russia – to start all over again on a clean sheet and hope that things will be better this time.
“The persistent lesson of all the previous attempts at doing this is that it simply does not matter.
“What would be far more stable and less dangerous would be to, rather than encourage Russia into thinking that it can get away with all of its hostile actions and will be forgiven and everyone can get back to business to business as usual, instead, we need to recognise there is a contradiction and conflict in terms of what Russia and the West actually want.
“That it’s not going to be possible to resolve.
“Living with the differences instead of pretending that they don’t exist would be a far more stable basis for the relationship.”
Mr Giles’ colleague, James Nixey, reiterated and said: “I think, sometimes, the West believes that Putin is 10 feet tall.
“And that there’s a certain need to tread carefully, walk on eggshells.
“I think people are genuinely afraid of this slightly sinister, ex-KGB colonel who clearly doesn’t have any particular love for the West.
“And, sometimes, that fight is legitimate. Sometimes it’s illegitimate. Sometimes it’s clean, sometimes it’s dirty.
“It’s a bit of a chessboard, I’m afraid.
“Giving the pie to them probably means sacrificing the interests of smaller countries.
“What the Russians probably want is not so much dominion but control over other independent countries.
“Not ours, not Ireland, not the US. But to be a great power you probably have to control areas beyond your internationally defined borders.
“And the West hasn’t been willing to give it to them.”
A December 2018 UK foreign policy document described Russian relations unfavourably.
It read: “Other significant challenges come from Russia, a declining power, which is exploiting both traditional and new methods, such as cyber capabilities, to act as a disrupter.
“In the face of Russia’s provocations, the UK should continue to seek to counter and deter its activities, but must also remain open to dialogue with Russia on issues such as counter-terrorism and non-proliferation.”