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What’s the off-ramp for the Putin regime?

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Clausewitz’s aphorism that war is the continuation of politics by other means help throws light on the extent to which Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is already an unambiguous political catastrophe for Russia, whatever narrowly military outcome that invasion may eventually produce.

A “victory” which leaves the victor an economically and culturally crippled pariah state, in military possession of a nation of 45 million people, that is going to be violently unwilling to remain pacified, is the very definition of a pyrrhic triumph.

If this is at all an accurate description of the state of affairs, then it’s critical to find some face-saving rationale that will allow Putin to walk back his fantastic blunder, while also allowing him to save his own miserable skin in at least the short term (obviously the latter condition is a prerequisite for the former outcome, as long as Putin is around).

I have no idea of what sort rationale that might be, but the longer the rest of the world can remain absolutely opposed to this ongoing first order war crime, the better the chances are of pressuring Putin and the rest of the thugs running the oligarchical kleptocracy that is contemporary Russia into some negotiated settlement that will save their faces just enough to save millions of lives.

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