Brett Stephens posits any interesting possibility.
“Suppose for a moment that Putin never intended to conquer all of Ukraine: that, from the beginning, his real targets were the energy riches of Ukraine’s east, which contain Europe’s second-largest known reserves of natural gas (after Norway’s).
Combine that with Russia’s previous territorial seizures in Crimea (which has huge offshore energy fields) and the eastern provinces of Luhansk and Donetsk (which contain part of an enormous shale-gas field), as well as Putin’s bid to control most or all of Ukraine’s coastline, and the shape of Putin’s ambitions become clear. He’s less interested in reuniting the Russian-speaking world than he is in securing Russia’s energy dominance.”
So it isn’t about demilitarizing, de-Nazifying, saving ethnic Russians or any of the other reasons given (and defended by some here); it is about the vast resources under the ground of Eastern Ukraine and the ability to ship the reserves to market
Makes a lot more sense then some of what has been posited previously.
There are some other tidbits in JVL’s daily Triad column, but this seemed interesting and not anything we have heard before.