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Putin’s Endgame Starts to Look Like Reducing Ukraine to Rubble

The Russian president envisioned a quick victory. If his history is any guide, destruction may be his fallback plan.

Irpin, Ukraine, on March 8.

Irpin, Ukraine, on March 8.

Photographer: Emin Sansar/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Watching Russia’s military machine grind a gruesome path through Ukraine, it’s impossible not to feel you’ve seen this tragedy before. The artillery volleys slamming into apartment blocks, the firing on evacuation corridors, and even the disorganization and hubris of the attack are all familiar scenes from Chechnya, Georgia, or Syria. Whatever the location, the ending has been the same: cities reduced to rubble.