Historian Timothy Snyder has what I believe is the correct understanding of uncle Vlad's Russia. It's not a very long read and it's worth reading the whole thing, but the basic idea is that Russians live in a manufactured reality. There's not point sacrificing part of Ukraine to give him an "off ramp" because he'll do whatever he wants, and if he doesn't work, he'll just lie to the Russian people about it, and they'll accept it. Here's a pull quote:
Some observers of the Russo-Ukrainian war seem to think that its greatest danger is that Ukraine will win, or win too quickly, and that this will be uncomfortable for Putin, and that we should care. This is a deeply perverse way of seeing things. Putin has chosen to fight a war of aggression and destruction in Ukraine. Wherever Russia controls Ukrainian territory, Russians commit genocidal crimes against citizens of Ukraine, including mass rape, mass killing, and mass deportation. A democracy is defending itself against an autocracy, and the fate of democracies hangs in the balance. . . .
Yet there is an even more basic problem with this reasoning, which arises from a false understanding of how power in Russia works. The Russian media and political system is designed to keep Putin in power regardless of what happens in the outside world. Russian politics takes place within a closed information environment which Putin himself designed and which Putin himself runs. He does not need our help in the real world to craft reassuring fictions for Russians. He has been doing this for twenty years without our help. . . .
What matters in Russian politics is not Putin's feelings nor battlefield realities but the ability of the Putin regime to change the story for Russian media consumers. It is senseless, as the Ukrainians understand, to sentence real people of real territories to suffer and die for the sake of Russian narratives that do not even depend upon the real world. What happens if Putin decides that he is losing in Ukraine? He will act to protect himself by declaring victory and changing the subject.
The point for us here in the U.S. is that this would be our fate if Fox was the only available news medium. This is the ultimate goal of Trumpism and the conservative movement. Believe it.