A year ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an unprovoked, illegal, and barbaric invasion of Ukraine. On 24 February, in his invasion speech broadcast in the early morning hours, Putin imagined a quick victory. Some Russian military units told officers to pack their dress uniforms and medals to wear in parades that would take place in Kyiv after their glorious entry. That never happened. Putin’s assumptions have been proven wrong. Actually, it is noteworthy how he has managed to achieve the opposite of his declared aims.
Table of Contents
The triumph of folly
What the Kremlin imagined would be a speedy rout has turned into a tough war that has done unspeakable damage to Ukraine while killing and wounding thousands of people. The war has likely traumatised millions more, both military and civilian alike.
How the playbook went wrong
Here is a short overview of the main promises, predictions and claims by the Russian leadership.
|What did not happen||What actually happened|
|Ukraine will collapse as it’s not a state, but just an artificial construct.Ukrainians are part of the Slavic brotherhood and want to be with their Russian family. Many Ukrainians are manipulated by the neo-Nazis in Kyiv to forget their true roots||Contrary to Putin’s claim, Ukrainians defend their motherland, an independent Ukraine, with unbroken resolve despite all attempts by Russia to break this spirit with terror bombings and killings.|
|Russia wants peace.Russia’s proposals and legitimate demands will set the agenda for Europe’s handling of the ‘Ukraine issue’ – reference to Moscow’s December 2021 proposals||Russia’s smokescreens and attempt to confuse the world did not dictate EU/ Western policies. No negotiations above the heads of Ukrainians, ‘Nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine’.|
|Zelenskyy will grab the money and run.Honest Ukrainians will know the true neo-Nazi character of Zelenskyy. They will see him selling off or embezzling futile Western assistance. They will lose confidence in his corrupt leadership||Since 24 February, President Zelenskyy and his team have remained in Kyiv. Not fleeing or caught or killed by Russia. The Ukrainian people have repeatedly expressed high, stable popular approval ratings for Zelenskyy’s team. No calls for new elections for president or parliament. There are no Nazis in the Ukrainian parliament. Western assistance and weapons are making a decisive difference for civilians and soldiers.|
|Nobody will dare to stand in the way of a powerful, nuclear-armed Russia.An attack on Russian territory is a red line which will be met with a response never seen before||With frequent, thinly veiled nuclear sabre-rattling, Putin has tried in vain to scare American, European and other Western leaders from supporting Ukraine with military equipment.|
|With high-tech and superior weapons, Russia will defeat inferior Ukrainian units||Russian forces struggle for small gains with high casualty rates. In many areas, Russian soldiers launch assaults resembling World War I trench warfare including indiscriminate bombardments with heavy artillery, missiles and drones.|
|Russia acted in self-defence.The global majority sides with Russia, understanding that the country is fighting in self-defence||The UN considers the Russian attack to be a violation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine and contrary to the principles of the UN Charter. The UN General Assembly passed important resolutions (here, here) supported by 141 and 143 countries, respectively, rejecting Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine and demanding that Russia immediately withdraw its forces and abide by international law. Only five countries sided with Russia: Belarus, Eritrea, North Korea, Nicaragua and Syria.|
|Russia has fought carefully, only hitting military targets in Ukraine. After the attack on the Kerch bridge, more military-used infrastructure is targeted||From day one, Russian forces have systematically bombed and attacked civilian targets in Ukraine. Mountains of evidence and real-time reporting by independent observers, reporters, and ordinary people have revealed Russia’s atrocious methods of warfare. They cannot be swept away.|
|Ukraine has committed large-scale war crimes and atrocities which will disqualify Kyiv for Western assistance||Russian forces are the ones who have committed atrocities on a massive scale in Bucha, Kherson and numerous cities and towns elsewhere. The EU has launched an effort to support the UA prosecutors office to document perpetrators of war crimes and atrocities using modern forensic techniques.|
|Ukraine is developing dirty bombs with nuclear or even biological material for use against Russians or targets in Russia||No such bombs have been developed and no trace of them exist. IAEA inspectors at nuclear power stations continuously confirms: no unexpected activity. It is only Russia doing nuclear sabre-rattling.|
|Russia protects and helps all civilians from liberated areas. A Russian adoption programme cares especially for children||Russia has forcibly transferred, killed, imprisoned, and tortured Ukrainian civilians and abducted Ukrainian children. Ukrainian authorities and international researchers assess that 200,000 and as many as 700,000 children have been taken by force to Russia.|
|Refugees from Ukraine will pollute Europe. They are criminals exploiting naïve Europeans. They are not welcome in Europe||Contrary to Russian claims about refugees, they have been welcomed across EU Member States. In March 2022, the EU activated the temporary protection directive, an emergency scheme used in exceptional circumstances of a mass influx. This directive helps to provide legal status and social rights to refugees more quickly.|
|The West will not care about Ukraine but values relations with Russia.Ukraine will be forgotten by the EU/the West||Russia’s attack and actions are a threat to Europe. In response to Russia’s military aggression, the EU has massively expanded sanctions against Russia by adding a significant number of persons and entities to the sanctions list and by adopting unprecedented restrictive measures. The EU and the Member States has shown unity and strength and has provided Ukraine with humanitarian, political, financial and military support. Ukraine receives constant military and economic support under the motto, ‘As long as it takes’. Overall EU support now exceeds 67 billion euro. Ukraine received EU candidate status in June 2022.|
|The transatlantic bond is fake, Washington decides everything. Washington, Brussels, and the wider Europe do not share the same interests. Either they will split or, eventually, Washington, who rules its European vassals, will decide what to do||Transatlantic cohesion has been strong. Across the Atlantic and beyond in the G7 community, there is agreement on key issues in the war-time approach to Russia. International alliance building continues. For example, 54 nations recently participated in a meeting at Ramstein Air Base in Germany to discuss delivering military assistance to Ukraine.|
|Europeans will protest against the EU and force their leaders to change their Russophobic policies and war-mongering||Despite Russian attempts to manipulate public discourse and undermine EU governments, 74% of EU citizens approve of the European Union’s support for Ukraine|
|Finland and Sweden face no threat from Russia and should remain outside military alliances||Finland and Sweden have departed from decades of non-aligned status and applied for NATO membership, something Russia continuously worked hard to prevent.|
Russia into the abyss of authoritarian barbarism
Putin and the Russian military leaders have committed a combination of disregard and tactical blunders resulting an estimated 200,000 killed or wounded Russian soldiers. This figure is an estimate, as it is illegal to publish casualty reports or even to criticise the armed forces. Authorities have launched hundreds of cases and handed down multi-year prison sentences.
The triumph of folly
The war and Putin’s regime are also steadily grinding Russian society down and destroying societal decency. The Kremlin and its media apologists are turning murderers into heroes, accepting arbitrary killings, lauding atrocities against civilians in Ukraine, casually encouraging genocide over Ukrainians, suffocating public debate with censorship and Orwellian newspeak, engineering paranoia and fear and encouraging a cult of death in society. A deroute well-known in authoritarian societies.