I have always admired the expressiveness of the Russian language. Popular turns of phrase that have become enshrined in everyday language reveal quite colourfully Russians' attitudes towards themselves and ongoing events. In particular I am struck by the way Russians reflect on failure with easy humour, as captured in the phrase 'they hoped for better, but it turned out as usual'.
Putin may win permanent control over the Crimea, but at the cost of abandoning his hard-earned cover of non-interventionism that has coloured Russia's image in the international community, revealing an attitude of pure self-interest that cannot be reconciled with UN values of international peace and cooperation.
Following his victory in yesterday's presidential election Vladimir Putin gave a tearful, patriotic speech to supporters in central Moscow befitting the characterisation of his election campaign as a battle.