What does it say about a regime when it is prepared to turn helpless civilians into weapons in its war for geopolitical influence?
Because that is exactly what NATO's top commander has just accused Russia of doing.
Addressing the U.S. Senate's Armed Services Committee yesterday, NATO's commanding General Philip Breedlove said in an official forum what many Kremlin-watchers have been claiming in less official forums for months: that Vladimir Putin's regime appears to be intentionally exacerbating Europe's migrant crisis by targeting civilians in Syria.
He called it "the weaponization of immigration."
The Kremlin clearly believes it can benefit from the migrant crisis, which has posed the greatest threat to the European Union in its history.
In addition to aggravating the migrant crisis, Moscow is also backing xenophobic and Eurosceptic parties on the continent that are exploiting it.
And, according to media reports, officials in Germany suspect that Russia is trying to use the migration issue as part of a covert operation to topple the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Now Russia's behavior over the past couple of years has been so outrageous that it has pretty much lost the ability to shock us.
But let's step back and think about this for a minute.
If Russia is really intentionally targeting civilians in Syria as part of an effort to destabilize Europe, doesn't that put Putin into a very special class of war criminal?
If this this true, is he really all that different from rogues and war criminals like Slobodan Milosevic -- and Bashar al-Assad?