Maybe history will record it as the War of Unintended Consequences.
The Ukrainian people won't care what it's called, just that it ended and they won. It remains an ongoing disaster, but they have unbounded confidence that they will win. But not before Putin tries to redefine the whole thing into a war against Russia, of all things.
Writing in The Atlantic on September 30, Anne Applebaum said, "Russia’s actions under these circumstances [those being Putin's recent sham annexation of four Ukrainian provinces] show contempt not only for international lawyers in European capitals, but also for Chinese politicians who like to talk about sovereignty and African diplomats who have agreed that borders matter, even when they are arbitrary. In the upside-down reality that Putin has created, he will now claim that Ukrainians, by defending their own land and their own people, are somehow attacking Russia [emphasis added].
Would he really make such a claim?
Well, the Ukrainians didn't waste any time testing that assertion when they blew up a very nice and crucial bridge connecting Russia to Crimea, which happened to be a major supply route for the Russian Army.
Putin reacted exactly as Applebaum predicted. The Wall Street Journal reported on October 9 that:
Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his first public comments on the incident, blamed Ukraine and called it a “terrorist attack” aimed at civilian infrastructure.
“Its plotters, perpetrators, and masterminds are the Ukrainian security services,” Mr. Putin said Sunday in a televised recording of a meeting with his top federal investigative official.
Kyiv didn’t claim responsibility for the attack, though senior Ukrainian officials celebrated it on social media.
The nerve of those Ukrainian security services, daring to defend their country!
But then Putin decided to punish Ukrainian civilians with a massive rocket barrage designed to terrorize, kill, and maim. According to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, “The occupiers cannot match us on the battlefield, and that is why they resort to such terrorism.” Mr. Zelensky said this as he stood near a crater left by a strike in Kyiv.
Putin impressed no one, and we suspect he is running out of friends.
In the WSJ report, North Atlantic Treaty Organization Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg condemned Russia’s “indiscriminate attacks on civilian infrastructure,” writing on Twitter that the Western military alliance would continue supporting Kyiv “for as long as it takes.”
A spokesman for the EU’s foreign-policy chief called Russia’s attacks a war crime. “As always in such cases, the European Union recalls that all those responsible will be held accountable,” spokesman Peter Stano said.
And in Ukraine, Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council said, “Your attacks provoke only rage and contempt in us! Not fear, not desire to negotiate.”
What a mess. Even if Putin can pull this off, he has lost the hearts and minds of millions, not to mention their trust and respect.
Maybe they can replace his portrait in the Kremlin with something like this: