The question then becomes: What can America and its allies do if they continue to rule out direct intervention?
The answer is quite a lot, much of which — though by no means all — is being done already.
The basic Western strategy has been to make the war more painful for Putin: Supply the Ukrainians with weapons while imposing crippling sanctions on the Russian economy. These measures are designed to shift Putin’s cost-benefit analysis, making the war costly enough that he’ll look for some kind of exit. In broad strokes, experts say, it’s a sound strategy — one that can still be escalated, albeit within certain bounds.
“The West has to keep going full speed in the current direction,” says Yoshiko Herrera, a political scientist who studies Russia at the University of Wisconsin Madison. “Right now is not the time to let up on pressure.”
At the same time, Washington and its allies need to think more carefully about their endgame.