In August 2013, a summer evening at a beachside nightclub in Sochi was an intense and exhilarating experience. A mixed martial arts contest took place, with Russian fighters dominating against a “world” team. The crowd cheered them on, with scantily dressed women waving Russian flags.
The atmosphere was electric as the home squad achieved victory after victory. The crowd erupted in cheers, reaching a peak when a 44-year-old American fighter was knocked out. The event was attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who sat in a front-row seat wearing a white dress shirt and surrounded by security guards and political followers.
Little did anyone know that six months later, Russia’s president would initiate the country’s path to war by seizing Crimea from Ukraine. This led to a full-scale invasion that is now entering its third year next week.