Something is not right about the war in Ukraine.
Once we considered Putin to be a brilliant man, now we think he is an idiot.
After believing that the Ukrainian armed forces were worthless, and that the Russians had modernized and become powerful – so the invasion would be a cake walk – we are now told that Putin effectively is losing the war.
From being told that Putin was in complete control of himself, that he had a steely self-discipline and will, we are now told that he has gone crazy.
I’m not saying that may not be the case, but if so, then let us admit that the Western intelligence services had bad information, that they made a mistake in their analysis, that they may have inadvertently or not misinformed us.
However, there is also the possibility that things are exactly as we were originally told. That Putin is indeed a very shrewd man, who faithfully follows the strategy he sets out from the beginning, which never envisaged, for example, the occupation of Kiev. That his goals were to secure Eastern Ukraine with its rich sources of natural gas – second after Finland in Europe – its wheat fields and ports, and so on.
And we have to think about this: Is it possible that we are defining what constitutes victory for Russia differently from the way Moscow defines it?
Can this be ruled out? Certainly not.
But if we make a mistake in that, then we will risk sinking into the euphoria and feelings of superiority we are feeling now – despite the horrific fact that there are 4 million refugees according to the UN – only to get up and find ourselves in deep melancholy and frustration, with renewed anxiety about the unity and future of NATO and the European Union.
Certainly one of the most curious things we are now seeing is the participation of the oligarch Roman Abramovich in the talks between the Russians and the Ukrainians in Constantinople.
The question is, what was his role there? As a negotiator? As an adviser to the negotiators? As a friend of Putin guarding against possible missteps by his negotiating team?
Or was he there as a representative of the oligarchs to certify that the Russian President is sincere in his desire for a ceasefire;
I’m just not sure.