A British parliamentary report has accused the government and the European Union of a ‘catastrophic misreading’ of Russia’s thinking over Ukraine. The response from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office reveals why this was undoubtedly the case and why the FCO itself may be in need of urgent and substantive reform. The FCO says that no-0ne could have predicted the scale of the unjustifiable and illegal Russian intervention. Firstly, Vladimir Putin and his advisers knew, so the use of ‘no-one’ is symptomatic of lazy and inaccurate language. Second, there had been predictions. Diplomats only had to consult Ed Lucas, Anne Applebaum and many others to understand what was at stake. Third, for years — at least since the Georgia war of 2008 — British officials have been briefing about the dictatorial and kleptomaniacal regime of Vladimir Putin so any ‘unjustifiable or illegal actions’ should come as no surprise. Fourth, the FCO argues that the EU Association Agreement was the catalyst to Russian intervention. This is not the case. The catalyst was the overthrow of the elected pro-Russian president which — rather than wait for elections — Britain supported. There is a risk of one of the finest diplomatic services becoming ridden with hubris, naivity and lazy thinking — that if only Saddam, Ghadaffi, Assad, Mubarak, Yanukovych, Putin stepped aside a panoply of democtratic institutions would fall from Heaven and all would be fine. Both Putin and Yanukovych came to power precisely because early experiments with democracy in their countries failed. You don’t need need trade craft-trained spies and columns of Russian specialists to assess what Vladimir Putin might do next. You only need to follow Twitter.