Soldiers on the move through civilian areas are rarely paragons of virtue when the blood's up: even a determined disciplinarian like Wellington could only achieve so much with hangings and floggings; and looting is the least of it. But everything about Russia's recent 'triumphs' in Chechnya and Syria told in favour of Putin's forces disgracing themselves on the humanitarian front, just as (and partly because) they have been humiliated on the military front. Was Ukraine in danger of slipping down the news rankings? Was the craven Macron going to succeed in toning down sanctions? Not now. Well done, Li'l Volodya. Does even China want itself associated with this? Russia contra mundum now.
And maybe that's OK with him, for now? Let's see to what extent his monolithic domestic 'support' holds up behind the defensive barrage of lies. That support will surely run deep: Russians rally behind their strongmen - but not necessarily including the cream at the top. The intelligentsia can't find this very edifying and there are reports of "scientists leaving Russia", for whatever they are worth (the reports, that is - I'm sure some of the scientists are good). And not necessarily regionally, either.
Right after the start, when I was musing aloud as to why Russia manifestly wasn't following the doctrinally-expected pattern of attack, it crossed my mind that Putin might have issued some clear policy red-lines of his own amateur devising. So: maybe the absence of the mandatory massive opening barrage by artillery and air, betokened not just that he expected a walk in the Ukrainian park (being greeted by grateful peasants offering vodka and roses instead of anti-tank munitions), but that he'd decided large-scale destruction would be a Bad Idea in general: bad for PR, bad for putative ongoing occupation.
Well, maybe. But since all his major assumptions quickly proved false (at least, as regards the on-the-ground situation, even if you're one of those that seems to think he's reading the geo-political situation adroitly), clearly, all bets are off and it's to be ruthless brutality all the way. Thus far that's just artillery targeting, and men with rifles.
Plenty of scope for worse, of course. So many 'maybes'.