Russia's military failure in Ukraine has defied almost everyone's predictions. First came abject defeat at the gates of Kyiv. Then came the incredible shrinking blitzkrieg, as attempts to encircle Ukrainian forces in the supposedly more favorable terrain in the east have devolved into a slow-motion battle of attrition.
What's important about this second Russian setback is that it interacts with another big surprise: the remarkable - and, in some ways, puzzling - effectiveness, at least so far, of Western economic sanctions against the Putin regime, sanctions that are working in an unexpected way.
As soon as the war began, there was a great deal of talk about bringing economic pressure to bear against the invading nation. Most of this focused on ways to cut off Russia's exports, especially its sales of oil and natural gas. Unfortunately, however, there has been shamefully little meaningful movement on that front. The Biden administration has banned imports of Russian oil, but this will have little effect unless other nations follow our lead.