Russia’s attack on Ukraine is already underway, and Russian officials are laughing about it.

In recent days, Ukrainians have been hit by a massive cyberattack aimed at paralyzing their country’s top banks and government websites. In an online briefing, Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s minister of digital transformation, said, “This attack was unprecedented, it was prepared well in advance, and its key goal was destabilization, sowing panic, and creating chaos in our country.”

Meanwhile, the 100,000 Russian troops massed on Ukraine’s border are not withdrawing, contrary to the claims of the Kremlin. According to Western intelligence sources, those troops, as well as Russian warships in the Black Sea, appear more prepared than ever to invade.

Protestations from President Joe Biden and European leaders have been met with sarcasm from Russian officials. One Russian diplomat scoffed at predictions that an invasion could come as soon as Feb. 16, saying, “Wars in Europe rarely start on a Wednesday.” A Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson asked the Western media “to reveal the schedule of our ‘invasions’ for the upcoming year. I’d like to plan my vacations.” Another Kremlin spokesperson told reporters, “Western hysteria is still far from its culmination. We need to have patience, as the remission will not come quickly.”

The Nazis were not this flippant and jovial before they sent a blitzkrieg into Poland in 1939, but this is a new era. Eschewing the threatening bombast of the old-time fascists, Vladimir Putin projects the cool-headed, soft-spoken demeanor of a poker player or a chess master, displaying only amused disdain for alarmist European and American leaders.

However, there is plenty of reason to be alarmed by the deadly game Putin is playing, even if he eventually pulls his forces back from Ukraine’s frontier. He has transformed Russia into a rogue state that is not only a menace to neighboring countries, but a threat to the economic and political stability of the European Union and the United States. And he seems to enjoy the game so much that he is not likely to stop playing until someone stops him.

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