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The US and Russia are waging a pre-emptive war on Ukraine in order to avoid a full-fledged conflict.

Updated: Feb 17, 2022

US and Russia are waging a pre-emptive war

Moscow and Washington are playing an increasingly high-stakes, more sophisticated game of signalling to try to secure their goals without firing a shot as their standoff over Ukraine continues.

US and Russia

Diplomacy as we know it is only one part of this dance. Troop movements, sanctions warnings and legislation, embassy closures, leader meetings, and intelligence leaks are all intended to demonstrate each country's willingness to carry out threats or accept risks.

It's a type of high-stakes negotiation that uses deeds as well as words to settle Europe's future just as conclusively as if it were decided by war, by telegraphing how a conflict would play out rather than directly fighting it.

By announcing that a Russian invasion may be imminent, closing its embassy in Kyiv, and threatening economic reprisal, the Biden administration sends a message to Moscow that it cannot anticipate desperate American concessions, making further escalation less worthwhile.

Keren Yarhi-Milo, a Columbia University political scientist who studies how governments signal and manoeuvre during crises, stated, "This dynamic is quite volatile."

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