On Sunday evening Russian forces staged one of those retro raids that makes one think of the late 1930s and early 1940s, involving a confrontation engineered to please domestic opinion and to provide cover for potential further aggression.

The Russians denied that this was the game, of course. ‎Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, said the incident in the Kerch Strait was “obvious provocation” by the Ukrainians. He was dismissive about the threat of new sanctions against Russia by the West: “As for the sanctions. I don’t know. This has not been a matter of concern for us for long already.”