Putin is playing a multi-century game where control of natural resources will define empires.
He has spent decades putting himself into a position of resource superiority and his next play is to extend that superiority, and exercise increasing control over their distribution.
The problem with much of the extant analysis is that it is based on a "modern" and "Western" perspective that makes far too many assumptions, and ignores far too many possibilities.
Putin is Tywin Lannister. In that worldview, people are simply resources. much like copper, oil and cereals. So what's a few lives here and there? In a multi-century game, what's a few weeks or months, here or there?
You may abhor his game, but he is certainly not playing by your rules.