One of the most intriguing tools the United States has used to head off an invasion of Ukraine is the publication of intelligence reports about Russian intentions.

The Biden administration has provided formerly-classified intelligence to allies and media around the world, showing Russian troop formations and revealing purported “false flag” operations — an attack staged by Russian troops disguised as Ukrainian forces — that would be used to justify an intervention.

The U.S. strategy is not unprecedented, but it is risky. There is the danger of exposing sources, of damaging U.S. credibility, or of signaling that the protection of intelligence is less important than it really is. If the policy works and an invasion is deterred, it will have been worth it — even though we will never know if the exposure actually changed Russian calculations.