The debate over Putin's 'off-ramps,' explained

Enticing the Russian leader to end his war in Ukraine might involve unsavory choices

Vladimir Putin.
(Image credit: Illustrated | Getty Images, iStock)

Almost since the beginning of Russia's war against Ukraine, observers have discussed the need to give Russian President Vladimir Putin an "off-ramp" out of the situation he has created — incentives that give him a face-saving way to wind down the invasion so that Ukraine can return to peace, Russia can return to something like pre-war economic normalcy, and the world can avoid the conflict blowing up into something even worse.

"The question for western leaders is how to ensure Putin is defeated while nevertheless providing him with a route out of the crisis and avoiding any missteps that could lead to a wider conflagration," The Atlantic's Tom McTague wrote in March. It's a question that remains relevant even as Russia and Ukraine settle in for what appears to be a much longer war than anybody expected at the outset — but there are critics of giving Putin an out. Can off-ramps help end the war, or do they offer a compromised promise of peace? Here's everything you need to know:

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