Having been ostracised by Western world leaders for many months, Putin may smile to find himself the focus of desperate attention from those who have scorned him, as the war in Ukraine worsens and the need for a solution intensifies.
However much you may dislike a person, it is important always to show them courtesy and a degree of respect, just as you would wish to be treated by other people too. One of the joys – and challenges – of our human race is that every member of it is unique, with strengths and weaknesses, likes and loathings, fears and beliefs, habits and influences. Because someone has different values from you does not make them worse than you, and it is important to accept them for who they are in all their complexity even if you do not agree with them. To respect that they are dissimilar and then to find a way to co-operate with them if this is necessary is key.
President Putin of Russia has been derided, humiliated and disregarded by those very leaders who now recognise they have underestimated him and his ambitions, and his power and readiness to wreak much damage in Europe: it must be satisfying to him to see them coming to him in search of a solution that only he can deliver. Revenge is sweet.
Following a marathon meeting in Minsk, Putin has announced a ceasefire in Eastern Ukraine. He has done so before, and the ceasefire was unsuccessful. One of the difficulties in dealing with this reckless, angry, clever leader is knowing how much to believe in what he promises, for he is known to say what serves his purpose in the moment: I suspect the involvement of Russia in Ukraine will continue even though talks about peace carry on. Putin has a mission, and he is not easily deflected, nor appeased.
We are close to a war in Europe because our leaders failed to take Putin seriously or to see the danger signs in time. There has been complacency and apathy by those who are elected to keep us safe, and it may be too late for diplomacy to resolve a dangerous situation. At least, now, as the growl of the Russian Bear is heard, Putin is getting the respect he wants, and needs – but at what cost?