Something I have noticed with some amusement is the conjunction in utterances by Western talking heads of the conviction that they know exactly what Putin wants with the admission that they haven't a clue what he wants.
Reading what he says and watching what he does is apparently out of the question.
Here's NATO commander Breedlove in April as an example. Just for fun I invite you all to read through thickets of impenetrable prose to find more examples of we know but we don't know.
He knows what Putin wants
- We also know that Putin only responds to strength and seeks opportunities in weakness.
- You know, I believe that Mr. Putin very much wants in a very simple way, he wants the West out of Ukraine, and he wants Ukraine out of the West.
- Mr. Putin wants Ukraine as a part of his sphere of influence.
He doesn't know what Putin wants
- We cannot fully be certain what Russia will do next, and we cannot fully grasp Putin's intent.
- So we can't know what Mr. Putin has in mind.
- We don't know what Mr. Putin's objectives are.
PS if he can't bear to read what Putin actually says, here's a piece in Newsweek (of all places) from last December that might have helped him be less surprised "The rise of ISIS confirms what Moscow has long said to the West: Backing Assad’s opponents will lead to state collapse and jihadism."