Interest in UFOs might easily be mistaken for a uniquely American obsession — born at the nexus of pop culture, Cold War panics and high-budget aerospace experimentation. But as the U.S. government prepares to release a landmark report on “unidentified aerial phenomena,” UFO experts around the world are watching closely.

“Internationally, the UFO phenomena knows no boundaries,” Philip Mantle, former director of investigations for the British UFO Research Association, who has been looking into UFO sightings from the United Kingdom for more than four decades, told The Washington Post.

Anyone involved in UFO research anywhere is likely “fully aware of the report and its significance and the fact that it is imminent,” he said. “They’re all waiting around the world with bated breath, waiting to see what it will reveal, or perhaps what it will not reveal.”

Sometimes relegated in the popular imagination to the realm of fringe research for kooks and cranks, UFO analysts and investigators hope that acknowledgment and serious treatment by the U.S. defense establishment could destigmatize their work.

“It will give a boost to every UFO observer around the world to tell their stories,” said Clas Svahn, vice chairman and international director of UFO-Sweden, an independent organization that investigates UFO sightings.

Thiago Luiz Ticchetti, president of the Brazilian Commission of Ufologists, said that even if the report does not deliver in depth the answers people want — such as where UFOs come from — he believes that it will start an unprecedented international dialogue, bringing the academy to the table.

“After all, which scientists wouldn’t want to be the first to discover extraterrestrial intelligent life?” Cicchetti said.

Darío Fernández, an Argentina-based UFO researcher, said he does not think the report will expose anything revelatory — although he hopes he is wrong. But he said he hoped the report would not rule out some of the less likely explanations for UFOs, “because if they were an internal threat, like an industrialized country that uses UFOs as test targets, it would not be necessary to establish a task force to investigate them.”

Some longtime participants in the UFO discourse warned against overhyping the report. “My sort of view of this is UFOs are a product of the Cold War,” said David Clarke, an associate professor at Sheffield Hallam University who has written extensively on the subject. It is interesting, he said, given heightened tensions between the United States and Russia, “that UFOs should once again come into public prominence as they have.”

Mikhail Gershtein, former Head of Russian Geographical Society Commission for UFO Study, said that interest in the impending report is much higher in the United States than in Russia, where he said researchers had been disappointed by the lack of interesting content in previous disclosures.

The simple confirmation of the existence of UFOs is not enough for Gershtein. “I want to know the truth about wild rumors instead of acknowledgment of this simple fact: ‘something flying over our heads and we don’t know what is it,’” he said.

The report may well raise more questions than it answers. But the effects of UFO sightings are as worthy of interest as the cause, Clarke said. “There might not be any information about aliens, but it’s still a fascinating subject for the impact it’s had on people’s lives.”