Beneath the pallid smog of billowing smoke that hangs above Independence Square in Kiev, the belligerents of the civil war pause for breath in a conflict that few can be sure will not resume. If it does, the rebels that hide behind their barricades, and the state forces that try to haul them down, may discover that - beneath the burnt-out tyres, barrels, and rubble - the unexpected weight of history lies very much alive and unwell.
One of the many remarkable things revealed by the NSA spying revelations is how remote from the subject of their surveillance spies have become. Programmes with enigmatic names like XKeyscore or PRISM scan mainframe computers in far away bunkers, collecting and sifting through reams of emails and searches, which disconcertingly reveal to faceless bureaucrats our most intimate thoughts and intended actions.
It's difficult to imagine how cyber warfare could wreak the same havoc as traditional, conventional war. But as former director of national intelligence Mike McConnell once noted, cyber war has the potential to mirror the nuclear challenge - less in the physical sense, but in terms of the potential economic and psychological effects.
The Russian authorities, it appears, are fighting an internal 'Cold War'. It's a war of attrition and containment that has seen civil society attacked through the introduction of legislation aimed to restrict their activities... This onslaught on human rights shows no signs of abating and it's time the international community took this seriously.
The dangers involved are now on clear display in the escalating crisis in North Korea as the United States seeks to strike a delicate balance between deterring an unknown adversary and reassuring a nervous ally. What's more, the drama plays out in full view of an international audience, some of whom are watching for clues about the utility of nuclear weapons in the 21st Century.