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Opinion
Clive Crook

What Does It Mean to Defeat Putin?

If regime change isn’t an option, then the U.S. and Europe need to start talking about which off-ramps to offer Russia’s president.

He needs an off-ramp.

He needs an off-ramp.

Photographer: SERGEI GUNEYEV/AFP

What do U.S. and European leaders see as the endgame in Ukraine? If they’re thinking about it, they’re giving little sign. And if their answer is defeating Vladimir Putin, they need to ask themselves another question: What does that mean?

Moved, as they should be, by the astonishing bravery of Ukraine’s people — and by their own voters’ outrage at Russia’s aggression — American and European leaders are intent for now on denouncing the Russian president, broadening their sanctions and enforcing the ones they’ve already deployed. There’s a note of celebration in their expressions of unity and economic power, which seem to have taken them by surprise.