^^^ I think it would be good to try and see all of this from Russia's point of view, because then you'd see that Putin's actions abroad are not aggressive, but assertive; the purges and budget cuts he has made are not ruthless, but necessary to keep the government running. Because right now, Russia is very vulnerable. Right now,
RUSSIA IS FIGHTING FOR ITS SURVIVAL.
Today, Russia faces two existential threats:
1) The loss of its buffer zone and the expansion of NATO in Eastern Europe
2) Low oil prices and its high dependency on energy exports
combined with growing internal unrest.
Here's a map of the USSR and its buffer states:
In the Cold War, Moscow was a comfortable 1,700 km or so from the edge of the Warsaw Pact and enemy lines. The Soviets had ample naval access to the North Sea and Mediterranean.
Compare that with a map of Russia and nearby NATO states in 2016:
Russia has lost most of its important naval access (remember that most of Russia's coastline is frozen for parts of the year). Latvia, a NATO member, is less than 600 km from Moscow. Estonia is only about 140 km from Saint Petersburg. That would be like if Dallas was the American capital and the Warsaw Pact went right up to the Mexican border! For Russia it's unacceptable.
The defeat in the Cold War and the pain and hardship that followed is still fresh in Russian's minds. NATO was made to try and contain the Soviet Union, and yet it's still been expanding in Eastern Europe. So naturally Russia would be terrified that the Americans are still trying to contain them. So Putin went and tried to stop Ukraine from having a pro-Western government and bring that country, along with Belarus, into the Russian sphere. If it wasn't for these two countries, Moscow would've been wide open to invasion from Western Europe, through the Northern European Plain.
If you back an animal into a corner, what do you think is gonna happen??? It comes out and tries to defend itself. That's not being aggressive.