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Ukraine: what does Vladimir Putin want?

Officials and analysts in Washington and Europe — and even people close to the Kremlin in Moscow — admit Putin’s true intentions with Ukraine remain a mystery. Some speculate the troop build-up is a form of “reflexive control” that Russia has used to pressure the US into halting Nato’s expansion. Others see the aspersions Putin casts on Ukraine’s statehood as a sign the president is now willing to solve what he sees as the key foreign policy dilemma of his two decades in power with force if necessary. “This is his life’s work. Everything he’s done as president has been about fighting Nato expansion,” says Tatiana Stanovaya, founder of political consultancy R.Politik. “So now he thinks it’s either now or never.”

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