“What struck me most about President Putin’s annexation speech was just how full it was of anti-Western bile. The Russian president seems set on whipping up nationalistic, anti-Western sentiment in the country. It’s a useful diversion from the problems at home and the battlefields of Ukraine.” Putin raises stakes with phony annexations and a speech full of anti-Western bile.

+ “This annexation is also more specifically a declaration of war against the democratic world, a statement of contempt for democracy itself. Putin has been treating democracy as a tool for decades, using fake parties, creating fake opponents, and rigging elections … With today’s announcement, he no longer pretends or plays games. This deliberate farce mocks the very idea of referenda, of voting, of popular opinion. Nothing about this act has any legitimacy, and that is also part of the point. In his world, there is no such thing as legitimacy. Only brutality matters.” Anne Applebaum in The Atlantic: Putin’s Newest Annexation Is Dire for Russia Too.

+ “If there’s one thing I’ve learned from watching Putin all of this time, it’s that he is not one to walk away from a fight or back down while losing—escalation is his game, and by now he is very, very practiced at it.” Susan Glasser in The New Yorker: What if We’re Already Fighting the Third World War with Russia?

+ The Moscow Times: Putin Always Chooses Escalation. (As Putin descends further into genocidal madness, keep in mind that, on the world stage, Trump sided with him over American intelligence and the GOP stuck with him anyway.)