Sharing top-secret intelligence with the public is unprecedented. Here’s why the U.S. decided to do it for Ukraine

In the weeks before Russia invaded Ukraine, President Joe Biden and U.S. national security officials provided the public with a running stream of intelligence of the sort that is usually classified.

The administration announced that Russian President Vladimir Putin was assembling troops along the eastern border of Ukraine and provided pictures of that buildup. Russia had a “kill list,” with plans to detain or kill Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky and other prominent Ukrainians. Biden said that Russia was going to invade Ukraine “in the coming days.”

Naomi Schalit, senior editor of politics and society at The Conversation U.S., spoke with international relations scholar Stephen Long at the University of Richmond about why the U.S. government made the nearly unprecedented choice to share secret intelligence with the public, and how it’s helped the U.S. rally the world against Russian aggression. The conversation is below.

I think that that helped change opinions in Europe about the seriousness of the threat Putin posed. The results were more rapid and unified sanctions, including some that came with costs to European states. I don’t think that this would have happened as easily and as quickly had it not been for that preparatory work to show exactly how far Putin was willing to go. That was really a smart play, and it definitely paid off politically, even though the invasion went forward.

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