What does Russia want?
I have just read a VERY long-winded article in the NYT which tries to answer the question above. When people write at such length it generally means that they don't have any clear answers but hope that by covering a lot of ground the answer will be in there somewhere. And such is certainly true of that article.
The answer has to be at the psychological level and some of the senior Russian officials the reporter interviewed did after a fashion tell the reporter what the answer was -- but she hardly seemed to notice it.
What Russians generally and also their leadership want is respect and acceptance that Russia is a great and important country. They are the world's largest country, stretching all the way across the Eurasian continent from the Baltic to the Pacific. And they have over the years made colossal contributions to the arts and sciences. So when Russia lost control over half of the territory that they had controlled in Soviet times they saw that as a humiliation.
So the Russian leadership tries to restore a sense of pride in their own people and gain the international attention and influence it had in the Soviet era. They do NOT see themselves as a failed state notable only for attempts at influencing American Federal elections.
It should not be forgotten that Russia had worldwide influence in the Soviet era. It even had great influence and respect in the USA. The Democratic party at that time were shills for the Soviets. The Donks did all they could to support Russia in any political controversy. They were among Russia's best friends.
Mr Putin would like some of that back. But instead he finds his country demonized -- criticized and marginalized on many fronts. Recovering ethnically Russian territory in the Crimea seems a heroic and historic achievement to Russians but America has renewed the cold war on Russia over it.
Mr Putin has been very restrained over events happening in his own backyard (e.g. the independence struggle in Eastern Ukraine) so it is clear that countries further West have nothing to fear from him. He will however take opportunities that present themselves to get Russia noticed. A more cordial atmosphere between Russia and the USA would make such adventures less likely. If America can remain friendly to the ghastly Saudis, friendship with Christian Russia should be no strain