Deterrence through Inflicting Costs: Between Deterrence by Punishment and Deterrence by Denial

Amir Lupovici*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The strategy of deterrence by denial is widely used by different actors. Despite its prominence, however, the scholarship on deterrence by denial stands to be developed further. It lags behind scholarship on deterrence by punishment on two points: in identifying the conditions under which the strategy works and in examining elements affecting its adoption. Deterrence by denial also carries some conceptual ambiguity since its employment takes many significantly different forms and also because it overlaps with deterrence by punishment. Despite the emphasis in current scholarship on "inflicting costs"as a defining element of deterrence by punishment, costs arguably also play a significant role in deterrence by denial. To address these challenges, I distinguish between deterrence strategies by focusing on two main elements: the means the deterrer actor threatens to use (offensive or non-offensive) and the timing of the threatened use of these means (before or after the unwanted activity). This offers a more nuanced distinction between deterrence strategies and better encompasses the role of inflicting costs in deterrence by denial. I suggest that this research offers a useful point of departure to further theorize about deterrence by denial, and it sets a promising research agenda that is pertinent given the growing interest in deterrence by denial, especially in its application to cyber deterrence.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberviad036
JournalInternational Studies Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2023


  • deterrence
  • deterrence by denial


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