WATCH: Analyst: Putin Seeks to Leave Ukraine a 'Weakened State'

The Russian strategy is to support separatists to gain leverage over Ukraine's government, says commentator for the Financial Times.

Russian President Vladimir Putin seeks to destabilize Ukraine by supporting separatists and deliberately weakening the government, argues one prominent analyst in a new video, "Putin's game plan in 60 seconds."

In a short video posted to the website of the Financial Times, Gideon Rachman, the news organization's chief foreign affairs commentator, framed the Russian involvement in Ukraine as part of a grand strategy aimed at achieving Russian hegemony in the region occupied by the former Soviet Union.

According to Rachman, Russia's leader seeks to "continue to keep Ukraine as a weakened state" in order to "increase Moscow's leverage in a power struggle with Ukraine and with the Western powers that back Ukraine."

"I think the Russians have both a defensive and a more positive vision for Ukraine," said Rachman. "The defensive vision was simply to stop Ukraine from going on the path to membership in the European Union and therefore leaving the Russian sphere of influence. The more positive vision is that the Russians want to create a Eurasian union counterpart to the European Union which would be based on the territories of the former Soviet Union."

Rachman added that by travelling to China in the midst of the crisis in Ukraine and signing a major gas deal with the Asian nation, Putin was signalling his independence from the West.