The EU, as we know, has always prided itself as being a shining beacon for global peace and stability. This ingrained position of being the bastion of European peace and unity was a core component in its very creation. But now in these absolutely unprecedented times, we sit back, totally aghast as we learn that the EU has promised to morph from a peace project into a source of funding for lethal weaponry to help bolster the somewhat beleaguered but nonetheless resilient Ukrainian armed forces.

This is a massive moment in history that will herald the day that the EU finally flexed its muscle on the geopolitical stage. This has been a long held aspiration by some of the EU's most vocal stalwarts such as Macron of France - although no one wished for such a change to come about under such drastic circumstances.

Without any doubt, this is a genuinely historic moment for a European Union usually hamstrung by division and indecision over matters of foreign policy. Many wondered whether the EU's traditionally sluggish approach would hamper the bloc from making any credible or effective sanctions against Putin's Russia and its circle of oligarchs. Not this time.

In a sense, Mr Putin has triumphed where many American Presidents have faltered. His actions in Ukraine have prompted Germany to not only meet its Nato spending commitments but to actually exceed them.

This momentous about-turn by the continent's biggest economy is yet another highly significant moment. Not only has Germany's commitment to Nato suddenly been greatly enhanced but the Berlin Government has also reversed their long-held ban on weapons exports to areas of major conflict. Germany is now sending weapons as well as ammunition supplies to Ukraine. Add to this Germany's huge political decision (for the time being at least) to pull the plug on a key project, the Nord Stream-2 gas supply pipeline. We can clearly see that 'the Putin effect' is truly tangible, unprecedented as well as deeply concerning far beyond Ukraine itself.

We are also witnessing a very different consensus on the thorny subject of migration. Since the migrant crisis of 2015, Eastern European territories such as Poland and Hungary have been vocal opponents of EU migration policies. Now, countless Ukrainian refugees are being welcomed by Warsaw.

All those resentments of old regarding migration have consistently hindered the reforming of EU asylum protocols. However, as I pen this article, we are expecting the bloc to finalise measures that will grant Ukrainian citizens temporary permission to stay within the EU-27 for up to three years. The drawbridge which was hauled up following the 2015 migrant crisis has finally once again been lowered, providing the displaced people of Ukraine with an absolutely vital lifeline.

Putin's actions have also succeeded in awakening the bloc's slumbering enlargement policy. This has been in deep hibernation for at least a decade. Croatia was the last country to join the EU in 2013. Other countries have since been waiting on the sidelines. Naturally, this was wholly because of Putin's Russia having such a dim view about EU/Nato expansionist aspirations. Especially those concerning Ukraine, which has long been viewed by Russia as a humiliating territorial loss following the demise of the Soviet Union.

Any notion of Ukraine joining the EU was, for Putin, a step too far. Such a move would have effectively brought 'the West' within spitting distance of the Russian border, potentially diminishing or at least threatening Russia's 'sphere of influence.' Nato's all for one and one for all ethos was seen, by both sides, as a potentially dangerous flashpoint that could easily escalate to become the catalyst for a dangerous Russia versus Nato conflict.

In a piece of counter-sabre-rattling, the EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen recently said, “They (the Ukraine) belong to us." They are one of us and we want them in (the EU).” However, it does not lie within any European Commission president's remit to solely decide whether (or not) Ukraine becomes an EU member. It is a key point to remember that this (Ukrainian EU membership) would not happen for many years to come. What's suddenly different is that this subject is even being seriously debated in Brussels right now, at such a delicate moment. Only a few days ago the subject was utterly taboo and any serious contemplation of Ukrainian Nato membership was quite unthinkable. This is what makes Putin's incursion so incredibly bizarre.

The until-recently divided West seems to be suddenly grasping around for the same hymn sheet. There's a growing choir of harmonious narratives, all keen to issue a suite of ever tougher sanctions against Moscow. Even differing ideas on whether or not to exclude Russia from the Swift payment system have been quickly resolved.

Putin Phobia has even resulted in drawing in Finland and Sweden who now seem more keen than ever to join the Nato Alliance. All this is down to Mr Putin who's incursion into Ukrainian territory seems to have been utterly counterproductive as far as he's concerned.

So, far from Putin building up his reputation both domestically and globally, he has instead managed to turn Ukrainian president Zelensky into something of an international statesman. Zelensky is now universally admired for his bravery, heroism and resolve. A man who is utterly determined to stand up to a tyranny which came in the form of a totally unprovoked, unwarranted and shockingly violent attack on his beloved country and people.

Faced with an ever dwindling number of friends and genuine allies both at home and abroad and his actions seemingly backfiring on far too many fronts, Putin placed his nuclear forces on heightened alert. But even this most frightening of actions has thus far failed to distract attention from all those major taboos being verily shattered all across Europe and far beyond. There is certainly a sense that the ever shifting tides of history are conspiring against Mr Putin.

From what many of us have recently witnessed, I think it has already become quite clear that there's only one person out there who genuinely has any confidence in Putin's dubious rationale - and that's Putin himself. The expressions on some of his socially-distanced military men's faces as he flexed his nuclear muscle before an utterly bewildered global audience said it all.

Whatever transpires, it looks very much like Putin's Russia has backed itself into a corner. Whether Russia wins or loses the battle at hand, it will remain quite unclear what 'victory' actually looks like in the real world. Russia will certainly find itself isolated. In most people's estimations, that doesn't equate to being very much of a victory at all, no matter how the Kremlin eventually chooses to dress it up.


Douglas Hughes is a UK-based writer producing general interest articles ranging from travel pieces to classic motoring. 

Douglas Hughes