Vladimir Putin was hoping to turn Hangzhou into Yalta. He was hoping to turn the G20 into Munich.
And he failed.
After ginning up a fake terrorism crisis in Crimea and massing troops on Ukraine's borders, Putin pulled out of planned four-way talks with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and French President Francois Hollande.
Instead, Putin pushed for a joint meeting at the G20 summit with Merkel and Hollande -- but without Poroshenko -- aimed at resolving the conflict in Ukraine behind Kyiv's back.
It's a classic Kremlin tactic. Create a fake crisis and then offer to help resolve it on Moscow's terms.
But this time it didn't work.
To their credit, Merkel and Hollande agreed only to meet Putin separately, where each pushed him to fulfill Moscow's obligations under the Minsk cease-fire.
Both refused to cut any deals about Ukraine without Poroshenko's involvement.
And to stress that point, the French and German leaders met with U.S. President Barack Obama to discuss Ukraine -- without Putin.
So Hangzhou did not become Yalta. The G20 did not become Munich.
Putin's big bluff failed.
The elaborate psy-op that began last month, when Moscow accused Ukraine of plotting terrorist attacks in Crimea, fell flat on its face.
It seems the West is getting better at resisting Putin's head games.