Surely the prize for the most cynical news item of the month should go to the announcement from Oslo that Russian President Vladimir Putin has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize 2014. Admittedly the nomination was for his work in proposing how to get rid of Syria's chemical weapons, but even that deal (which helped to rescue Barack Obama from a political hole) has come unstuck.

Events of the last few weeks in Ukraine have shown how fragile the state of the world is, how interdependent, and yet how badly served it is by leaders of the biggest countries. If there were a "Nobel Anti-Peace Prize," Putin might win it, but it would be hard to separate him from so many leading contenders.

Give credit where it's due. Putin and his foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, were bare-faced in denying that Russia controlled the masked, heavily armed and well-drilled troops who seized control of Crimea. But by the test of identifying a duck (if it waddles like a duck, quacks like a duck and swims like a duck, it probably is one), these troops are Russians. Their appearance coincided with the arrival of tens of trucks carrying teams of commandos from Russia across the strait of Kerch. They took over key installations and effectively imprisoned Ukrainian troops on their own base. The plates on their vehicles are Russian.