He has mobilized the worst elements to be found in the region.
He has taken thugs, thieves, rapists, ex-cons and vandals and turned them into a paramilitary force.
He has permitted ad hoc commanders of separatist groups to kill or chase off intellectuals, journalists and other moral authorities in the cities of Donetsk and Lugansk.
He has watched as a vodka-soaked rabble army destroys or takes over public buildings, hospitals, schools and municipal offices of the country it is pretending to liberate.
He has allowed a veritable gang war to take hold — without caring that he is losing control of the forces that he has unleashed, with rival bands pitted against one another and carving out fiefs amid the growing anarchy.
Most troubling of all: To this underworld without structure or discipline, to these undisciplined louts who know only the law of the jungle, to this new brand of fighting force that has only the dimmest idea of war and no idea, God knows, of the laws of war — to this motley collection Mr. Putin, the Russian president, gave a terrifying arsenal with which the amateur soldiers were unfamiliar and with which they have been playing, like kids with fireworks.
We know that Russia supplied vast quantities of heavy weaponry to the separatists and trained them to use the SA-11 surface-to-air missile system — the kind believed to have been used to bring down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.
One can envision the victorious gang celebrating with its trophy, playing with it as if it were a toy — one that can reach altitudes of over 70,000 feet.
One can similarly imagine Russian military officers — not so secretly assigned by the Kremlin to watch over the missiles and their use by amateur artillery crews targeting Ukrainian military aircraft — being overtaken by events and seized with panic.
One can even imagine their consternation when Igor Strelkov, the self-proclaimed defense minister of the Republic of Donetsk, claimed responsibility for shooting down a Ukrainian military plane — which turned out to be Flight 17.