Energy is an easy answer for Putin’s motives, but if he can’t access the resources due to sanctions & lack of technology, what’s the point?
And if that’s the motivating factor, then is the implication that can we rest easy, and assume Putin won’t go further into Europe? Just give him the land-bridge to Crimea and he’ll go away?
The fact is that Russia already owns these countries. They own Georgia, they own Bulgaria, they own Moldova, and so on. They may not own *everything* in those countries, but they own strategic assets (like energy), and those are the things that count.
Rosneft’s recent acquisition of a stake in Georgia’s port in Batumi is one obvious example that people keep screeching about, but it’s a drop in the bucket compared to what Russia already owns in Georgia.
Whatever is motivating Putin cannot be condensed into the cliched answer of energy.
And the cliched answer that his motivation is to maintain his grip on power in Russia is not helpful either. Putin’s Russia did not invade Crimea because less than 1% of Russians protested in 2011 and 2012.
This is much more complicated than cliches. And until we accept that, the problem of Putin is not going to be resolved.