The democratic world, one hears constantly from its leaders, will support Ukraine for “as long as it takes.” But, given these leaders’ reluctance to give Ukraine what it needs to win, what does this strong-sounding commitment really mean?

In the worst case, it’s an excuse for inaction in the futile hope that Russian President Vladimir Putin will die soon, that Russians will overthrow him or that some other solution will miraculously emerge, deus ex machina. In the best case, it means providing Ukraine with enough weapons to attain a better negotiating position in future peace talks.

Both approaches are misguided. Even if Putin dies soon, Russia will remain a mortal danger to Ukraine and to the West. Russians overwhelmingly support the war and Russia’s tiny “liberal opposition,” representing no one but themselves, has no chance of gaining power. Like Germany and Japan, which became democratic only after they were defeated, occupied and effectively governed by the Allies, Russia cannot reform itself from within.