Less than a week into this war, says Yuval Noah Harari in The Guardian, Vladimir Putin is already “heading towards a historic defeat”. He sent his troops in knowing that Russia dwarfs Ukraine militarily, and that Nato wouldn’t deploy any of its own forces in the country. But his plan – to hit Ukraine “hard and fast” and establish a puppet regime in Kyiv – still depended on the Ukrainian people rolling over and accepting their Russian occupiers. Putin gambled that they would, perhaps in part because Crimea offered little resistance in 2014. It is becoming increasingly clear that this gamble is failing.
“The Ukrainian people are resisting with all their heart.” Each act of heroism and bravery – the soldiers from Snake Island telling a Russian warship to “go f*** yourself”, the civilians sitting in front of Russian tanks – will strengthen their resolve further. “In the long run, these stories count for more than tanks.” And the more Ukrainians are killed fighting off the invaders, the more they will hate Moscow. For oppressed nations, hatred can “sustain resistance for generations”. That’s the problem for Putin. Only a “relatively bloodless victory” will lead to a “relatively hateless peace” – but the Ukrainians aren’t playing ball. Yes, Russia may well “win all the battles” and occupy the whole country. But it will lose the war.