By now it is a commonplace that, by invading Ukraine, Vladimir Putin has committed not only a monstrous crime but a calamitous error. And like many commonplaces this is mostly true.
There can be no doubt the war is not going as he had planned. Badly trained, poorly led, indisciplined and under-supplied, Russian forces have made little headway in the face of ferocious Ukrainian opposition. As of Thursday the invasion had cost the lives of more than 9,000 Russian personnel, according to Ukrainian defence officials. Even allowing for some degree of exaggeration, that is an extraordinary figure: more than half as many dead in a week as the Soviet Union lost in 10 years of bloody fighting in Afghanistan.
And yet, but for Kherson in the south, no major city had yet fallen to the invaders. Ukraine’s air force, far from being destroyed as expected, was mostly intact. Its power grid and communications networks were still functioning. Anti-tank missiles and other advanced weaponry, late to arrive before the war, are now pouring into Ukraine from countries around the world. Worst of all, from Mr. Putin’s perspective, the fighting spirit of Ukrainians appears only to have grown, even under the most savage Russian bombardment.