No one is quite able to pinpoint where the expression “useful idiot” comes from. Vladimir Lenin is supposed to have coined it, but it’s almost certainly older. All of us, though, have seen demonstrations of this behavior in recent months as too many adherents of both the far left and right in Europe and the US — in search of balance, or angry with Western wrongs — have provided the Kremlin propaganda machine with fuel.
So it is with the report published late last week by human rights group Amnesty International, which argues Ukrainian forces have put ordinary citizens in harm’s way by establishing bases in residential areas, including in schools emptied of their pupils. There is a pattern of putting civilians at risk, the organization says, and of violating the laws of war.