There exists an array of methodical objectives — Not annihilate Ukraine.
There essentially is no more Ukraine — it’s only being propped up by the US, UK, NATO members. Ukraine on its own would pretty much cease to exist TODAY on its own.
Russia is taking on the US and NATO.
For some of the most accurate take on what’s actually taking place, you can look up and review former US army Colonel Douglas Macgregor, and Scott Ritter content on YouTube.
Truth be candid, the US military is incapable of defeating Russia in a conventional war in that particular combat theater / region. IF Russia hypothetically invaded the U.S. territory however, they would lose.
If things go “hot” (nukes), we’re both done.
Ukraine is a fuking wreck. They have the second most corrupt government only to the US.
The UN/NATO created Ukraine to funnel money.
This invasion would have never happened if the Ukraine government didn't continuously use military forces to kill its own citizens. Putin warned them several times about killing Russian supporters but Ukraine banked on US to back them so they continued. I can't help but speculate that NATO pushed Ukraine to attack citizens who were protesting in the streets in support of Russia to be killed.
The US media, as usual, twists a narrative to make idiots who don't know, believe that Putin is the bad guy. Common Ukraine citizens want to be merged back with Russia. They are Russians. I work with several former Ukraine citizens who left there 5-6 years ago because of Ukraine government. Ukraine denied them the ability to become Russian citizens but let them come to US.
As you said, NATO doesn't stand a chance in beating Russia in Ukraine.
Putin is proving a point to the West, US more specifically. He sees the corruption. Hell, most of Europe sees it.