A few thoughts on the matter.
Most commentators were surprised by the ineptitude of the Russian military. I wasn’t, for one major reason: around ten years ago I read a paper published by a scientific journal on nuclear proliferation. Basically the paper stated that the US had to assist Russia with their nuclear program because it had become dysfunctional. There were launch silos that were not even guarded let alone properly maintained. The worry from the US was that the nuclear materials in these weapons would fall into terrorist hands and no longer be traceable and accounted for. It was obvious even back then that much of the Russian military budget had been redirected into making the Russian elite exceedingly wealthy. It is extremely expensive to maintain nuclear weapons, it is unlikely that Russia has the kind of nuclear arsenal that it possessed at the height of the Cold War. What I think is actually the case is that Putin has a small nuclear arsenal that he personally controls and is functional, but is only a threat to Europe. The US is beyond his reach and Russia’s conventional military is a shadow of its former self. There is no plausible scenario where Putin can threaten the US.
The difference in conventional military power between the western powers and everyone else combined is staggering. NATO could implement a no fly zone in Ukraine tomorrow and there is literally nothing Russia could do to stop it. To be clear implementing a no fly zone is a blatant act of war, it involves destroying all opposition air power and surface to air missiles and other assets. The reason NATO has not implemented a no fly zone is that the US doesn’t want to, not because they are worried about nuclear retaliation. It makes far more strategic sense to weaken Russia over time without becoming personally involved.
Whether individual events were staged or real, will I think, turn out to be irrelevant. Realistically in real warfare there are real war crimes on both sides. In this particular conflict the major difference will be scale, I’ve no doubt that Russian forces are far more barbaric and Ukraine has no reason to commit war crimes, if anything they have a vested interest as being depicted as the good guys. The other difference is around state sanctioning. Ukraine won’t sanction war crimes, Putin has already directed their troops to deliberately target civilians, which is a war crime.