Thus spake James Crisp, Europe editor of the Daily Telegraph:
Vladimir Putin has achieved the impossible many times over by invading Ukraine.
The EU, which has always styled itself as a peace project, has turned into a supplier of weapons and even fighter jets to the Ukrainian army.
That decision to use EU cash to finance bullets and weapons is unprecedented. It is a historic step closer to the ‘geopolitical’ EU punching its weight on the world stage dreamt of by the likes of Emmanuel Macron.
Unquestionably it is a historic moment for a bloc traditionally riven with deep divides over foreign policy, which had led to fears EU sanctions against Russia could be watered down or even blocked.
On Sunday, Mr Putin succeeded where successive US presidents have failed for years. He convinced chronically pacifist Germany to finally meet and exceed its Nato defence spending targets.
The volte face by Europe’s largest economy was hugely significant, as was Berlin’s decision to overturn a decades old ban on weapons exports to conflict areas to allow weapon supplies to Ukraine.
Germany also halted the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline as it slaughtered another political sacred cow.
Mr Putin has even managed to stir the EU’s long dormant Enlargement policy, which has been on ice for about a decade.
Croatia was the last country to join the bloc back in 2013. Other countries have been kept waiting.
Ursula von der Leyen on Sunday said of Ukraine, “They belong to us. They are one of us and we want them in.”
The European Commission president will not decide whether Ukraine gets EU membership, which, if it ever happens, will not for many years.
But the fact it is even being seriously talked about in Brussels would be unthinkable if it was not for Mr Putin.
Meanwhile, a once divided West is increasingly in lockstep in issuing unprecedented sanctions against Moscow. Splits over issues such as kicking Russia out of Swift payment system have been overcome.
Non-aligned Finland and Sweden have never been closer to joining Nato and it is all thanks to Mr Putin.
He has transformed Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky from a former TV comic struggling in the polls into a world statesman and icon of resistance.
Faced with backfiring miscalculation after backfiring miscalculation, the Russian president put his nuclear arsenal on high alert on Sunday.
But he could not distract from the taboos being busted across Europe or the sense the sands of history were shifting against him.
This comes as more and more people, now including Trump’s national security advisor, General H. R. McMaster (whom some of you may know from the Hoover Institution’s “Goodfellows” podcast), seriously wonder if Putin has lost his sanity and saying “he is not a rational actor”.
“I think now he knows that all of that is at risk,” he added.
“The Russian military doesn’t look very good right now, he does not look very powerful and this is going to jeopardise his ability to stay in power.”
The Russian leader was “living in a bubble” where he was told what he wanted to hear.
“These totalitarian leaders can look very strong, but they are in fact very brittle and, as ugly as democracy is, democracies are actually pretty darn resistant, and you see that with Ukrainians, and I hope they inspire confidence in all of us across the free world.”
Speaking of which: concerning the nuclear alert, Russia is now pathetically claiming “she made us do it” about UK Defence Secretary Liz Truss. [Yes, the Brits spell “Defense” with a “c”.] Who or what are they going to blame for their next outrage, Twinkies?
The Daily Mail reports that 150 Russian officials condemned the invasions, are asking people not to cooperate. How long until they are placed in mental hospitals with “sluggish schizophrenia”, as the bogus diagnosis for dissidents in the USSR usually went?
And meanwhile, the vaunted “Blitzkrieg” appears to be mired in logistical problems, bad planning, and (anecdotal reports suggest) poorly motivated troops. Not even Kharkiv/Kharkov with its largely Russian-speaking population went right, as it appears to still be in Ukrainian hands. (What, he’s going to revive Erich von Manstein from the dead and offer him a billion rubles to conquer the city for him? ;))
And some students asked me if Putin had been put up to this by “the oligarchs”. While I’m sure they’d have been delighted with a near-bloodless conquest of Ukraine in 24h and its getting turned into a satellite state, the current situation is really not what any high-flying businessperson likes. So oligarchs Oleg Deripaska and Mikhail Fridman are speaking out against the invasion, while Roman Abramovich — richest man of several countries, and a onetime Putin confidant — actually offered Ukraine his services as a mediator.
Moving from the Daily Torygraph to Der Spiegel: Mrs. Arbel was wrily amused to see opera diva Anna Netrebko had been told she was not welcome at the Met Opera because of her support for Putin. As much as I despise Putin and hold his apologists in contempt, I would not have supported this as long as she agreed to “shut up and sing” on stage, preferably with vibrato dialed down 90% 😉
Also, Switzerland [!] is joining EU sanctions agains Russia.
Meanwhile, a UN General Assembly session on Ukraine started. Will they find a way to blame Israel, the inveterate cynic in me wonders?
TO BE UPDATED
UPDATE 1: Douglas Murray blames Putin’s antics on “weak” Biden and “painful to watch, beneath a school child” Kamala Harris giving Putin the idea that he had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to strike while the USA was in a shambles.
UPDATE 2: Ouch (via Instapundit):
UPDATE 3: Victor Davis Hansen takes no prisoners: The Crowded Road to Kiev
And wow: “no taboos” in Germany’s energy about-face. Even nuclear, supposed to be phased out completely in 2022, is back on the table.
UPDATE 4: after contradictory reports earlier, Die Welt now reports that Turkey has closed off entry and exit to the Black Sea to all warships (in practice: to Russian ones).