Russia

‘Escalate to de-escalate’: Experts say Putin’s strategy may be to get more aggressive in war on Ukraine

Written by Tyler Olson

As Russia’s war on Ukraine continues, some experts warn Russia might escalate the conflict further either in Ukraine or against the western nations supporting it, with the goal of forcing those nations to capitulate to its demands.

This strategy, former Defense Intelligence Agency officer Rebekah Koffler told Fox News, is called “escalate to de-escalate.” It has roots in Russia’s planning for a war against the United States, Koffler said, but similar thinking is now standard throughout Russia’s military planning.

During a theoretical war with the U.S., Koffler said, Russia would strike first by “popping a low yield tactical nuke thinking that it’s going to be such a psychological shock that the conflict would end.”

In the context of the Ukraine war, that might mean that Russia would move to flatten cities like Kyiv with traditional weapons as long as Ukrainians continue to resist their invasion, according to Koffler.

Russian President Vladimir Putin could also use mercenaries to go after Ukrainian leaders, commit progressively worse atrocities against civilians or even use a nuclear-capable missile armed with a conventional warhead to strike Kyiv. The latter move would be aimed at confusing western countries and showing Putin’s resolve to win the war. 

Koffler also said Putin’s increase in Russia’s nuclear threat level may have been part of a strategy to intimidate Ukraine’s western allies, and that Russia may a wage cyber-warfare campaign against the West. 

All of this would be with the purpose of breaking the wills of Ukraine and the West until they capitulate to Russian demands and de-escalate. 

“They believe that the pressure on our population will cause the Biden administration to back out and put pressure on Zelensky and say, ‘You need to give up.’ He believes that the American people have a low threshold of tolerance for inconveniences, especially for something like Ukraine,” Koffler said. 

“That’s what the term means,” she said. “He escalates, we de-escalate.”

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About the author

Tyler Olson

Tyler Olson covers politics for Fox News Digital.