It’s a very tough needle to thread, but there’s a way to make the West’s Ukraine strategy work.

Across the world, political leaders and ordinary citizens have condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. At the same time, there seems to be basically no chance that the United States or any other major world power would send its troops to fight on the Ukrainians’ behalf — for the simple reason that doing so could plausibly lead to a wider war, and even nuclear conflict, writes Zack Beauchamp in Vox.

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.

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