Five blunt truths about the war in Ukraine

The urgency of winning soon — or at least of putting Russian forces into retreat across a broad front, so that it’s Moscow, not Kyiv, that sues for peace — is compounded by the fact that time isn’t necessarily on the West’s side.

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Sanctions on Russia may do long-term damage to its capacity to grow. But sanctions can do only so much in the short term to dent Russia’s capacity to destroy. Those same sanctions also exact a toll on the rest of the world, and the toll the world is prepared to pay for solidarity with Ukraine isn’t unlimited. Critical shortages of food, energy and fertilizer, along with the supply disruptions and price increases that inevitably follow, can’t be sustained forever in democratic societies with limited tolerance for pain.

Meanwhile, Putin appears to be paying no great price, whether in energy revenues (which are up, thanks to price increases) or in public support (also up, thanks to some combination of nationalism, propaganda and fear), for his war. Hoping he might die soon of whatever disease might be ailing him — Is it Parkinson’s? A “blood cancer”? Or just a Napoleon complex? — isn’t a strategy.

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