Russia's leaders have recently become very worried that Russia may fall apart in the future:
They see weakness where many see renewed strength, and rightly so. Despite huge foreign currency infusion thanks to oil revenues, Russia's Soviet-era infrustructure hasn't been rebuilt and it is crumbling. And due to extremely low birth-rate among ethnic Russia's, its population is slowly dying off as well, which may leave it unable to manage such a large empire as Russia is.
I don't necessarily want the Russians to die off, but I do want Russia to become a much smaller country, because then it will become more democratic and more European, and perhaps even join the European institution. And it will become much less of a threat to liberty in Ukraine and the rest of the Eastern Europe. Russia needs to loose its empire. The sooner the better. The sooner Russia becomes a normal and democratic nation, the sooner Ukrainians can breathe freely. But Russia cannot become a normal nation as long as it is such a large empire.
I have no problem with Russians as a people and have many Russian friends. The trouble has always been with the Russian governments, who have always been ruthless autocratic dictatorships, freely manipulating their own people to their own ends. And so long as Russia mantains its empire, it will continue having these types of governments, because only they are capable of holding such a large and disparate mass of land and diverse nations together. Democracy for Russia will mean a better life for ethnic Russians, but also freedom for the many captive nations that don't want to be a part of Russia and would get out if given a chance.