Putin hates the West and wants it to collapse. When that happens, Russia will be able to occupy its place of leadership and appropriate its cultural, political and economic hegemony. He is no secretive about this goal. To the contrary, he spells it out very clearly every chance he gets.
What will the collapse of the West look like? Here are a few things that the Kremlin propaganda machine has been advancing as the positive scenarios that would benefit Russia:
- The collapse of the EU.
- Another global economic crisis.
- The turmoil in the US political system that would demonstrate that the democratic institutions are weak and rotten.
- Animosity between different US states. Ideally, talk of secession or profound regional tensions in the US.
- Demonstrably falsified elections in the US.
- An explosion of racist and xenophobic violence in Europe and the US.
- Far-right governments in power in Europe and the US.
While Obama was president, Putin limited himself to a practical advancement of the first of these goals. Now the rest of the goals have opened themselves up as serious possibilities. With Obama in the White House, Putin wanted to rule part of Eastern Europe and that was that. Now he knows he can get a lot more.