The June meeting with Mr. Biden, however, had not led to any changes to what Russia sees as an untenable situation in Ukraine. Russia seeks to compel the Ukrainian government to grant autonomous status to the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk. Such a constitutional change would give pro-Russian forces a veto over any future attempt by Ukraine to join the European Union or NATO.
“Putin is really ready to do something to shock the world and demonstrate that he will not tolerate any more the status quo …. He is ready to go much further than before,” said Tatiana Stanovaya, a non-resident scholar at the Carnegie Moscow Centre. “It’s not about [gaining more] territory. The idea is to severely and without any doubt stop any Ukrainian ambitions to join NATO one day.”