What a week we have just seen unfold for Ukraine, Russia, Europe, and the world. With the attack on Ukraine, Russia disrupted the European order as we know it. Not since the end of the Second World War had Europeans seen such aggression against another sovereign country.

All of us who attended the 35th Camden Conference this past weekend had a front row seat as the drama unfolded. All because more than a year ago the Conference decided the topic for this year’s conference would be Europe: Challenged at Home and Abroad. The Conference brought together a strong and diverse group of European and American experts to discuss the rapidly unfolding events (learn more about these experts here).

Of the speakers, several stood out: Constanze Stelzenmuller, the chair of the German Center at Brookings, and a German herself, was the master of real-politique, on point and hard hitting. She was the first to suggest Russia’s actions in Ukraine could soon fall into the designation of “war crimes.” John Herbst, former ambassador to Ukraine during the George W. Bush Administration, provided a tough insider’s view of how the diplomacy has played out over the past several months, praising the stiffening stance of the U.S. in the two weeks leading up to the invasion. Judy Dempsey, from Carnegie Europe, was impressive for her insight into the serious challenges the EU faces in dealing with its “Eastern members.” She felt this was still an issue the EU had not fully come to grips with, and Mark Blyth, a Scottish economist from Brown University, provided a practical and amusing take on the tangled economies of the EU North and EU South countries. But the most riveting commentary came from a surprise last minute addition to the agenda, Sergei Medvedev, a Russian journalist from the Moscow Free University. Medvedev had participated in the 2015 Conference: Russia Resurgent, where he had impressed all with his courage in calling Putin out for his actions in annexing Crimea. Medvedev was even more shaken and unnerved by Putin’s attack on Ukraine, calling Putin deranged and dangerous. He believed that Putin had greatly and disastrously overreached. In fact, commenting that “If Ukraine could hold out for nine days, Putin would be finished” as Russian President. As I write this, it is seven days and counting, though it does appear that the Russian edge in military might is slowly stumbling its way to dominance.

And it was clear by day two of the Conference that there was strong consensus that the end game for the West had to be removal of Putin. Putin is simply too erratic and too focused on goals so inimicable to the rest of Europe that doing a “deal” with him on terms acceptable to the West was unlikely to be in the cards.

This conclusion is extraordinary in its implications. Given Putin’s position of absolute power in Russia it seems likely that it will take considerably longer than nine days to remove him from power.

There was also agreement on just what the West must do: (1) impose tough sanctions, and the stiffening of the West’s resolve on sanctions was noticeable and impressive just in the past few days; (2) NATO must provide more and timely support to the Ukrainian army, which has performed incredibly bravely. Concurrently, NATO must deploy its Rapid Reaction force to EU member states in the East, principally Poland;(4) finally the EU must welcome and manage the huge flow of refugees out of Ukraine.

We must also pray daily for the Ukrainian people. What is happening in Ukraine is a tragedy — a tragedy that was completely avoidable and entirely the responsibility of Vladimir Putin., We grieve for Ukraine and its people We must keep our resolve and focus on the elements we can control: strong economic sanctions, strong military and economic support, and compassionate treatment for the refugees fleeing Ukraine.

Those at the Camden Conference this weekend left understanding that this is a watershed moment for Europe. If the promise of the EU is to be realized, these countries and America must be firm, be prepared to stay the course in a potentially long struggle, and ensure Vladimir Putin pays a big price for this aggression.

Ron Bancroft is a retired businessman, former weekly columnist for the Portland Press Herald, and longtime attendee of the Camden Conference.