One by one, diplomatic bridges between the United States and Russia are being set ablaze.
The latest bit of rhetorical demolition came when Joe Biden labelled Vladimir Putin a war criminal, a move Russia said was “unforgivable”.
Mr Biden’s statement was an odd one, albeit not out of keeping for a politician who has a history of making monumental policy shifts in seemingly off-the-cuff remarks (see, for instance, his comments on gay marriage in 2012).
After initially telling a reporter he did not think Mr Putin was a criminal, he came back and reversed himself. If there had been an internal debate at the White House over how to handle the growing calls in Congress and the press to condemn Mr Putin in this way, the president settled it in an aside, not a set-piece speech.
This, of course, will make it harder for Mr Biden and his administration to work with the Russians going forward. Every concession or negotiated agreement, on whatever topic, will invite the rejoinder: How can you associate with a criminal?
Perhaps Mr Biden, in his comments, was simply acknowledging the new reality – that the world’s political order has irrevocably shifted, and there’s no going back to the way things were.