The British prime minister is taking a page from Dickens' Christmas Carol and calling forth the ghost of a predecessor in the person of Neville Chamberlain.
David Cameron has told European leaders that the west risks making similar mistakes in appeasing Vladimir Putin over Ukraine as Britain and France did with Adolf Hitler in the run-up to the second world war.
In a heated debate about the crisis behind closed doors in Brussels on Saturday, the prime minister told an EU summit that Putin had to be stopped from seizing all of Ukraine, according to La Repubblica, the Italian newspaper, which obtained details of the confidential discussion.
Downing Street declined to confirm the prime minister's remarks, but did not contest the accuracy of the report.
Cameron likened the west's dilemma with Putin to the infamous conduct of the British prime minister, Neville Chamberlain, with Hitler in Munich in 1938, when Anglo-French appeasement encouraged the Nazi leader to invade Poland the following year, sparking the second world war.
"We run the risk of repeating the mistakes made in Munich in '38. We cannot know what will happen next," Cameron was reported as saying. "This time we cannot meet Putin's demands. He has already taken Crimea and we cannot allow him to take the whole country."
Cameron has been beating the drums for his plan to organize a 7 nation expeditionary force that would go beyond the remit of NATO to defend its member states. He appears to be channeling Maggie Thatcher.
Meanwhile Russia and Ukraine are haggling over some sort of agreement for a cease fire. The Ukrainian government issues proclamations by tweet that then have to be withdrawn.