Putin, it seems, hasn’t just misjudged Ukraine’s ability to defend itself, but also just how hard a line the international community would take against Russia in the event of an invasion.
For years, the Russian president has faced very little pushback from the West over his illegal annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea, his brutal support for the Syrian regime and acts of aggression in other countries.
For all their strong words of condemnation for Putin and his regime, Western countries still bought gas from Russia, offered a safe haven to Russian oligarchs and retained relatively normal diplomatic relations with Moscow.
But this time around — despite a few early rocky patches which saw Western nations accused of not hitting Russia hard enough — Putin has faced an unusually united Western alliance.
From unprecedented sanctions that are already hurting the Russian economy to international sport slowly turning on Moscow, Russia’s international pariah status becomes more acute by the hour.
Those same citizens might soon wonder just why Putin is risking so much for a war that didn’t need to happen.
Of course, things are very fluid on the ground and could change very quickly.
There’s little hope that Monday’s talks will yield a deescalation, and no one expects this war to end in the immediate future — either by force or by agreement. But it’s likely that Putin, having come this far, will throw more at Ukraine in the coming days.
However, as the invasion enters its second week, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that Putin’s best-laid plans have been met with firmer resistance than he — and many of his opponents — ever imagined.