How Vladimir Putin has turned Ukraine into the world's most admired country

Ukraine flags are waved during a protest against Russia's invasion, in Istanbul, Turkey, earlier this week Credit: AP

Having dismissed Ukraine as a non-country, Vladimir Putin has gone on to turn it into probably the most admired country on earth right now.

And as a by-product he has made his own nation perhaps the most hated.

With pride, rock-solid composure and ingenuity, Ukrainians have managed to upset a Russian battle plan that imagined it would all be over more than a week ago.

Every day that they prolong this “special operation” is a small victory for the outnumbered and outgunned Ukrainians.

A destroyed tank is seen after battles between Ukrainian and Russian forces on a main road near Brovary, north of Kyiv, on Thursday 10 March Credit: AP

Having imagined his forces would be welcomed in at least some of the Russian-speaking towns and cities, today Putin can’t point to anywhere that his troops have been well received.

Ukrainians are all too aware of what the Kremlin jackboot has done to the bits of Ukraine that Moscow stole in 2014.

Orwell’s 1984 could be the Lonely Planet guide to the bad joke republics in Donetsk and Luhansk.

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The vast majority of Ukrainians want nothing to do with that way of life. Those doing the fighting here know exactly what the stakes are.

During the preamble to war, the lists of deciding factors all included “motivation.” But it was usually lower down the running order than weaponry and troop numbers, both of which favoured Russia by a large margin.

But the motivation of the Ukrainian forces is what’s keeping them in this war.

Support across the world: Ukrainian flags flown in Church Street, Twickenham in southwest London Credit: PA

In short, Ukrainian soldiers know what they are fighting for, while their Russian counterparts must be wondering.

For the man himself - Putin’s War - is looking increasingly unwinnable.

We know he has the firepower to crush Ukrainian towns and cities, and as Aleppo and Grozny will testify, the willingness to use it.

But countries aren’t made of bricks and mortar. They are made of ideals and beliefs. And as Ukraine is showing us, these are things much harder to destroy.