Someone using the nom de blog of Streiff posts at Red State and has a very interesting take on Putin's motives. As the presumably pseudonymous Streiff admits, we have no way of absolutely being certain the source he cites - Bellingcat - is on the level.
What they posted, and Steiff quotes, does have the serious advantage of making sense of Putin's motives. Whether or not it was on several Russian sources, and then mysteriously disappeared, is something that can be verified.
Here is Streiff's interpretation of what that source claimed.
If you think the goal is a reconstituted USSR, I believe you have it wrong. The goal is the Russia of Nicholas II. He’s not interested in Potemkin Soviet Socialist Republics. He sees Ukraine and Belarus, and Moldova as integral parts of Greater Russia.
"Greater Russia" meaning people of one ethnicity. Along with, probably, what we know as Sweden and Finland. I bet Putin thinks Tsar Vladimir the Reuniter would be a bol'shoy epitaph.