One thing that is apparent is that no-one on the "Russia Man Bad" side of things has even begun to credit that Putin and the Russians may, more rather than less, mean precisely what they said as to their goals.

Colbert apparently was mocking the Russian re-organization over the weekend, eminently predictable if you took them at their word as to their goals, as "Oh, we just declare we won and go home," and western media analysts were worried that some form of victory in Mariupol would give the Russians "an excuse to declare victory".

If you claim your goal is to de-nazifi a country and you capture/knock out a stronghold of symbol-wearing bandera-worshippers who hate Russians more than they hate Jews, after they've been torturing the POW's they've taken, then yes, you get to claim that as a victory, or at minimum a huge step in the right direction.

But you can find many people, even nominally intelligent and "world politics aware" ones, that think the whole Nazi thing is a lark. "Everyone has right-wingers around, right?". I've said it before - the equivalent of what the Ukranians have would be very obviously qualitatively and quantitatively different.

While we're at it - some I know deny the torture. This despite the fact the videos were actually posted by the Ukranians themselves, and a government inclined to act as if Ukranians could do no wrong had to issue a reminder to follow the Geneva conventions, and ban any video taping of military activities.

Stepping back, it's almost as if, unlike the video of Ukie fighter pilots downing multiple Russian jets, or four different vids released all taken at the same location claiming to be different events/teams, etc. (youtube may of course take this vid down), these torture vids were really real.

The overall point is that if you take the Russians at their word as to their goals, then all of the actions so far, that can be confirmed even by only listening to the Ukranains, make sense. They're not losing, because they're already where they want to be.

This begs the question - why would the Russians tell us what their goals are? Wouldn't they lie and say their goals are limited when they really want all of Europe?

Sure, I get it, Stalin lied repeatedly.

First, Russians apparently treat war as diplomatic policy by other means. This is a reason why they're willing to keep negotiating. It's just another form of leverage. Also - If your stated goals for launching violence match your previous diplomatic demands, and your strategy is effected in a way that conforms with your goals,  it grants credibility in terms of trusting your demands during negotiations, and that you are not asking for more. Lastly - telling us their goals also advertises that they want to keep it a local affair, and so hope that others will keep out.

But we are, as others better than me have put it, the Empire of the Lie, with petty tyrants who don't even believe in truth, much less Truth.