Two quotations from the historian Arnold Toynbee, gleaned from random readings, have relevance to current events. The first says that civilisations die by suicide, not murder. Is that what Russia is bent on just now? It has bungled into Ukraine, and is being cornered by the Western alliance with an unprecedented unleashing of geoeconomic aggression. The two issues are linked, but have to be viewed separately. Militarily, Russian forces now occupy about a quarter of Ukraine, putting Moscow in a good position to negotiate Ukraine’s neutrality and some territory. That Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, is not yet negotiating these with any seriousness suggests that (rightly or wrongly) his reading of his military situation is not as dire as Western analysts have it.
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