Essentially, neither side appears ready for concessions. Putin may not even have the capability to budge — if he wants to keep his grip on power, that is.
“I don’t think the war can end with Putin there,” said Andrea Kendall-Taylor, a think-tanker who previously led the U.S. intelligence community’s strategic analysis work on Russia. “Doing so would require a certain amount of political reckoning.”
And that reckoning could be career-ending, given the amount of political capital Putin and his allies have invested in the war.
“The sad reality is that there’s a strong possibility that even a replacement leader after Putin will also have a hard time extricating Russia from the war,” said Kendall-Taylor, who is now a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security.
Some policymakers have their eyes on ordinary Russians, wondering whether popular unrest may be the quickest way out. The tightening economic noose of sanctions and international isolation could fan those flames.
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