Vladimir Putin observes strategic deterrence forces exercise in the Kremlin’s situation room.

Putin Has Off-Ramps: Let’s Not Block Them

February 02, 2022
Henry Hale and Adam Lenton

This is a summary of an article originally published by PONARS Eurasia.

The authors, a Professor of Political Science and International Affairs and a PhD candidate at George Washington University, write that accounts claiming “President Vladimir Putin has passed the point of no return” regarding the Russia-Ukraine crisis “overlook key sources of Putin’s domestic appeal, which is based much more on pragmatically providing stability, security and prosperity than on aggressiveness.” The authors note that “Putin sells himself to his people in just this way, as a cool head of reason and pragmatism in the face of a West that he depicts as rash, hysterical, and full of double standards and zealotry” and that militarized responses from the West will only “make it easier for hardliners to sell Russia’s public on the idea that it is the United States, not Russia, escalating the conflict.” The authors end by arguing that in light of this, the West should do what it can to make sure that Putin still has the option to “back down or compromise,” even if those options are ultimately unlikely. 

Read the full article at PONARS Eurasia.


Henry E. Hale

Henry E. Hale is Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at George Washington University and co-director of PONARS Eurasia.


Adam C. Lenton

Adam C. Lenton is a PhD candidate in political science at George Washington University.

The opinions expressed herein are solely those of the author. Photo by the Presidential Executive Office of Russia shared under a Creative Commons license.