Thursday/ it’s not just about Ukraine

Columnist David Ignatius writes in the Washington Post, in an opinion piece called ‘Putin’s assault on Ukraine will shape a new world order’:
Now that Russian troops have surged into Ukraine, how does Putin plan to extricate himself? It’s likely that he hopes to keep Russian ground troops out of Kyiv and other big cities, instead using Spetsnaz special forces and FSB operatives to neutralize these targets. He will probably seek to install a puppet government. But here’s where U.S. officials believe Putin’s planning breaks down.

Map of tracking the Russian Invasion of Ukraine, from The New York Times on Thursday.

What Putin doesn’t appear to realize, with his vision of Russian-Ukrainian oneness, is that his bullying has deeply alienated Ukrainians. I saw that anti-Putin sentiment when I visited Kyiv in late January, and it’s undoubtedly even stronger now that Russian tanks are on the streets and jets are in the sky. Putin obviously believed his own rhetoric that Ukraine wasn’t a real country. That level of self-absorption so often leads to mistakes.

With his unprovoked invasion, Putin has shattered the international legal rules established after World War II, along with the European order that followed the Cold War. That old architecture was getting shaky, and it was destined to be replaced eventually.

The Ukraine assault, pitting a messianic Russian autocrat against the wishes of every other major nation, perhaps including China, will determine the shape of the new order to come. If Putin loses his battle to subjugate Ukraine, the new order will have a solid and promising foundation. If Putin wins, the new era will be very dangerous indeed.

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