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  • Author: Lauren Speranza
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Tackling hybrid threats, particularly from state actors such as Russia and China, remains one of the greatest challenges for the transatlantic community. Hybrid threats have gained more traction among policymakers and publics across Europe and the United States, especially in a world with COVID-19. Over the last five years, Euro-Atlantic nations and institutions, such as NATO and the European Union (EU), have taken important steps to respond to hybrid issues. But, as hybrid threats become more prominent in the future, policymakers must move toward a more coherent, effective, and proactive strategy for countering Russian and Chinese hybrid threats. To develop such a transatlantic counter-hybrid strategy for Russia and China, this paper argues that two major things need to happen. First, transatlantic policymakers have to build a common strategic concept to guide collective thinking on hybrid threats. Second, transatlantic policymakers need to take a range of practical actions in service of that strategic concept. In a strategic concept for countering Russian and Chinese hybrid threats, Lauren Speranza offers five strategic priorities that could form the basis of this strategic concept and presents a series of constructive steps that NATO, the EU, and nations can take, in cooperation with the private sector and civil society, to enhance their counter-hybrid capabilities against Russia and China.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, NATO, Diplomacy, Politics, Science and Technology, European Union, Innovation, Resilience, Non-Traditional Threats
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Europe, Eurasia, Asia
  • Author: Jeffrey Cimmino, Matthew Kroenig, Barry Pavel
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic is a strategic shock, and its almost immediate, damaging effects on the global economy constitute a secondary disruption to global order. Additional secondary strategic shocks (e.g., in the developing world) are looming. Together, these developments pose arguably the greatest threat to the global order since World War II. In the aftermath of that conflict, the United States and its allies established a rules-based international system that has guaranteed freedom, peace, and prosperity for decades. If the United States and its allies do not act effectively, the pandemic could upend this order. This issue brief considers the current state of the pandemic and how it has strained the global rules-based order over the past few months. First, it considers the origins of the novel coronavirus and how it spread around the world. Next, it examines how COVID-19 has exacerbated or created pressure points in the global order, highlights uncertainties ahead, and provides recommendations to the United States and its partners for shaping the post-COVID-19 world.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, NATO, Diplomacy, Politics, European Union, Economy, Business , Coronavirus, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, South Asia, Eurasia, India, Taiwan, Asia, North America, Korea, United States of America, Indo-Pacific
  • Author: Hans Binnendijk, Conor Rodihan
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The conventional military threat from Russia towards Europe most acutely affects a number of frontline Nordic and Baltic states from the Barents Sea in the Arctic through the Baltic Sea region: Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, and Sweden. Since Russia’s invasion of Crimea in 2014, these countries, in concert with other Euro-Atlantic allies and partners, have concentrated on strengthening their own defenses and on developing and enhancing eight sets of different defense cooperation arrangements. As the only two non-NATO and militarily nonaligned nations in the region, Finland and Sweden’s role in regional security and their level of cooperation with these and other partners poses challenges as well as opportunities for deterrence and defense in Europe’s northeast. These two countries have particularly emphasized cooperation with partners as they seek to build an interlocking web of security relationships to improve defense in the region. The core arrangements within this network include: The Finnish-Swedish bilateral defense relationship; Nordic Defense Cooperation; Nordic-Baltic Eight; The Northern Group; NATO Partnerships; The European Union; Ad hoc arrangements such as the Joint Expeditionary Force; Framework Nations Concept, and European Intervention Initiative; Finnish-Swedish-US trilateral and bilateral defense cooperation. These “geometries of deterrence” vary in scope, scale, and membership, but taken together, they enhance a range of important components of deterrence. In Geometries of Deterrence, Hans Binnendijk and Conor Rodihan assess the contributions of each of these arrangements against an ideal or “gold standard” for conventional military deterrence, before evaluating the arrangements collectively and offering recommendations to further strengthen deterrence for Finland, Sweden, and indeed for all of Northeastern Europe.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, NATO, Partnerships
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Eurasia, Northern Europe
  • Author: Daniel Fried, Brian O'Toole
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: US President Donald J. Trump’s administration has found it challenging to maintain a consistent position with respect to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s repression at home and aggression abroad. It may again fall to Congress to attempt to counter Russia’s election interference, already ongoing in the form of disinformation; back Ukraine as its government seeks to deal with a Russian invasion; and contend with other forms of Kremlin aggression. In “Pushing Back against Russian Aggression – Legislative Options” authors Daniel Fried, the Weiser Family Distinguished Fellow at the Atlantic Council, and Brian O’Toole, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, evaluate two Russia sanctions bills, the Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines (DETER) and the Defending American Security Against Kremlin Aggression Act (DASKA), as tools to forestall new Russian interference in US elections. The authors walk readers through a set of sanctions escalatory measures—covering finance, energy, and the cyber sector – that both sanctions bills draw from. In sum, Fried and O’Toole conclude that DASKA’s sanctions are more measured and thus more implementable. By contrast, the authors deem DETER’s sanctions on financial institutions as simply too harsh with excessive spillover risk to US and Western financial markets to be implementable.
  • Topic: Sanctions, Economy, Business , Legislation
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia
  • Author: Matthew Kroenig, Mark Massa, Christian Trotti
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: In 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced five new nuclear-capable, strategic weapons systems. These systems include a nuclear-powered, nuclear-armed cruise missile and a nuclear-powered, nuclear-armed submarine drone. What does Russia have to gain from developing these novel and exotic nuclear weapons? And what should the United States and NATO do about it? This new Atlantic Council issue brief, Russia’s Exotic Nuclear Weapons and Implications for the United States and NATO, answers these questions. Informed by a workshop convened by the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security and Los Alamos National Laboratory, authors Matthew Kroenig, Mark Massa, and Christian Trotti evaluate the potential utility, motivations, and consequences of these new systems. Among other conclusions, the most significant may be that great-power competition has returned, and with it, the importance of nuclear weapons in international politics.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Nuclear Power, Deterrence
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Eurasia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Tatiana Mitrova
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The fate of the “Russian Energy Strategy Up to 2035” paper—a key document defining the country`s strategic priorities in this critically important industry and submitted by Russia’s Energy Ministry every five years—illustrates well the contradictory predicament of Russia’s energy sector. In 2015, after two years of preparations, the latest version was submitted to the government, but national authorities have not approved it until now. Behind the scenes, many conflicting interests prevent the setting of a clear and coherent long-term vision.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • Author: Gaiane Safarova
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Like every country, Russia has a very specific demographic footprint; its fertility, mortality, and migration rates, as well as its age composition, all affect its performance domestically and on the world stage. Russia’s current demographics were shaped by its history, particularly crises like World War II, and its future will be deeply affected by conditions like its dropping fertility rate and aging population
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • Author: Michel Duclos
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Russia and Iran are allies in Syria not out of mutual sympathy, but for pragmatic reasons. According to many reports, Iranian leaders—notably including Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Al-Quds force of the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC)—were instrumental in convincing Vladimir Putin to send his air force to Syria and save Bashar al-Assad’s skin in September 2015
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Russia, Iran
  • Author: Tate Nurkin, Stephen Rodriguez
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: AI is expected to have a transformational impact on the future of geopolitics, defense, and security. The emerging geopolitical and security context influencing the future of AI technology development has been driven by the erosion of traditional geopolitical frameworks, increased conflict between liberalism and authoritarianism, the pervasiveness of social media use and 4IR-driven digitization of industries, as well as the ability of more actors to affect strategic and operational environments. However, the future of AI will depend on the decisions of great power competitors—the US, China and Russia—global trends development, and the management of uncertainties associated with emerging technologies. In this fluctuating environment, where the US is engaged in a high-stakes competition with is near-peer adversaries, and AI is enabling paradigm-shifting changes in public and private sector operations, how should the US respond? In this new Atlantic Council Strategy Paper, A Candle in the Dark: US National Security Strategy for Artificial Intelligence, Tate Nurkin and Stephen Rodriguez provide an integrated strategy to respond to this key issue. According to Former US Secretary of Defense Dr. Ashton B. Carter, author of the foreword, this paper “effectively articulates the current technological landscape and offers a coherent strategic framework for the United States and its allies to harness AI’s upside potential, while mitigating downside risks and defending against emerging threats.” In a world full of uncertainties, this paper provides a holistic way forward for the US to leverage the full potential of AI while maintaining America’s technological competitiveness.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, NATO, Intelligence, National Security, Science and Technology, Cybersecurity, Entrepreneurship, Drones, Conflict, Disinformation
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Eurasia, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Paul D. Miller
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: What is “world order” and why should Americans care? Less than half of all Americans have a passport, and less than five percent travel internationally. Only 26 percent of US gross domestic product (GDP) comes from international trade. Since the end of the Cold War most Americans probably feel safe from foreign threats most of the time: they feel little sense of danger or threat from the world. Even the terrorist attacks of 2001 have receded into memory and increasingly feel like an aberration rather than a precedent. Americans may feel a sense of unease about the world, but we are confident that even the nation’s wars safely take place “over there,” not here at home. If the United States can afford to tune out much of the world because of its geography, wealth, and power, why should we care? Americans have been the unconscious beneficiaries of a world order that would not exist without them. Just as we take for granted electricity and indoor plumbing without thought to the wiring and piping that make them possible, so too we take for granted the peace, prosperity, and stability of our world without thought to the infrastructure of the free world. The free world exists because the most powerful states in the world are open societies: liberal capitalist democracies who largely see the world the same way and have worked together to keep the peace and build wealth. That order is now imperiled. The United States no longer enjoys an unquestioned advantage over its rivals, Russia and China, as it once did. North Korea and Iran threaten the United States with nuclear weapons and support for terrorism. Perhaps most threatening of all: rising nationalist and populist movements around the world, including in the United States, are undermining popular support for international cooperation, free trade, and collective security. This report is about the free world: what it is, why it is imperiled, why Americans should care, and what we can do about it. Some skeptics have criticized the international order. President Donald Trump regularly criticizes “globalism,” and many Americans seem inclined to believe that the United States is losing its sovereignty and that the world is taking advantage of America’s generosity. We respectfully disagree. The free world, and American leadership of it, is good for America and good for the world. It helps keep us safe and give us opportunity. Far from eroding America’s sovereignty, it is a tool of American influence. Most importantly, the aspirations of the free world are just. It is a system of ordered liberty among nations, a tool or mechanism for allowing nations and individuals to flourish in freedom and safety. Investing in the free world is an investment in our values and our common values.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Nationalism, Politics
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, North America, Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Anton Barbashin, Alexander Graef
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Over the course of the last decade Russian foreign policy has taken critical turns, surprising not only the entire international community but also Russia’s own foreign policy experts. Arguably, the most notable turn came in March 2014 when Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula, setting in motion developments that are continuously shaping Russia, its neighbors, and, to a certain degree, global affairs. Clearly, Russia’s post-Crimean foreign policy does not exist in a vacuum. Its ramifications are colliding with regional and global trends that are effectively destabilizing the post-Cold War international order, creating uncertainties that are defining the contemporary international moment. In this report, we deal with those whose job it is to explain the logic of Russia’s foreign policy turns and to analyze global trends and their meaning for Russia and the rest of the world. Although these experts, as a rule, do not directly influence political decision-making, their debates, as Graeme Herd argues, “set the parameters for foreign policy choices” and “shape elite and public perceptions of the international environment” in Russia.1 Especially in times of crisis and rapid change ideas produced at some earlier stage by experts and think tanks external to the state bureaucracy can suddenly obtain instrumental value and direct policy options. In Part 1, we briefly discuss the role of think tanks in Russian foreign policymaking and present the landscape of Russian think tanks working on foreign policy issues. We distinguish among three basic institutional forms: academic and university-based think tanks, private think tanks, and state-sponsored think tanks. Highlighting the diversity of organizations, we then focus on four state-sponsored think tanks whose size, political contacts, and financial means allow them to dominate the think tank scene in Russia and that represent different ideological angles of a broad, yet also comparatively volatile mainstream: the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy (SVOP), the Valdai Discussion Club, the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC), and the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies (RISI). Part 2 follows this selection by looking at Russian foreign policy debates since 2014. We consider how experts writing for these four organizations have approached three major themes: the evolution of the concept of Greater Europe and European Union (EU)-Russia relations, the establishment of the Greater Eurasia narrative in the context of Russia’s declared pivot to the East, and the concepts of multipolarity and the liberal world order.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Civil Society, Diplomacy, Norms
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Eurasia
  • Author: William F. Wechsler
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: This chapter is part of an edited volume that gathers analysis on the policy choices pursued by Washington and Moscow in the MENA region and develops case studies of the two powers’ policies in the countries beset by major crises
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Armed Forces, Military Affairs, Crisis Management
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Mark N. Katz
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: This chapter is part of an edited volume that gathers analysis on the policy choices pursued by Washington and Moscow in the MENA region and develops case studies of the two powers’ policies in the countries beset by major crises.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Cold War, Islamism
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Abbas Kadhim
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Iraq has a long and complicated history with the United States, and security and military engagements have been the primary driver of the relationship. Iraq’s relations with Russia, on the other hand, have been more transactional and economically-oriented. At a time when there are signs of US disengagement from the Middle East and North Africa while Russian and Chinese activities in the region are increasing, it is useful to trace the past US and Russian strategies in Iraq and assess how the United States could better tailor its strategy toward Iraq in the future in order to achieve durable outcomes that would bring benefits to both sides such as a responsive government, a thriving economy, and security. This chapter is part of an edited volume that gathers analysis on the policy choices pursued by Washington and Moscow in the MENA region and develops case studies of the two powers’ policies in the countries beset by major crises.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Russia, Iraq, Eurasia, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Ksenia Kirillova
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Moscow's summer of protest reveals growing societal divisions & frustration with the Kremlin and its policies. Russians are increasingly willing to take to the streets to show their displeasure with their political & economic situation. Non-systemic opposition are gaining political ground but face significant challenges if they are to achieve major future political victories.
  • Topic: Politics, Economy, Protests, Political Movements
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia
  • Author: Philip Breedlove, Alexander Vershbow
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: North Central Europe has become the central point of confrontation between the West and a revisionist Russia. Under President Vladimir Putin, Russia is determined to roll back the post-Cold War settlement and undermine the rules-based order that has kept Europe secure since the end of World War II. Moscow’s invasion and continued occupation of Georgian and Ukrainian territories, its military build-up in Russia’s Western Military District and Kaliningrad, and its “hybrid” warfare against Western societies have heightened instability in the region have made collective defense and deterrence an urgent mission for the United States and NATO
  • Topic: International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • Author: Franklin Kramer, Laura Speranza
  • Publication Date: 05-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Since its takeover of Crimea in 2014, Russia has become increasingly emboldened, undertaking actions that, rather than propping up a failing regime, strike directly against the functioning of Western democracy. Employing a combination of "hybrid" actions–political, diplomatic, informational, cyber-, economic, covert and low-level force–the Kremlin has targeted countries not only on the fringes of its sphere of influence, but in the heart of Europe and even the United States.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • Author: Sergey Aleksashenko
  • Publication Date: 12-2016
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: It has been more than two years since the European Union (EU) and the United States (US) imposed economic sanctions on Russia for its aggression in Ukraine. For some of the measures, though not all, that is time enough to evaluate effectiveness. But before such an assessment can be made, the initial goals of the sanctions should be clearly stated. This is not as straightforward as it might seem.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, International Security, Sanctions, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Russia, America, European Union
  • Author: Elizabeth Pond
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: In the Ukraine crisis, soft economic power last month trumped hard military power for the first time. The threatened meltdown of the Russian economy could push Russian President Vladimir Putin to dial down his undeclared war on Ukraine in return for some easing of Western financial sanctions. Still, that is not assured.
  • Topic: Economics, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Russia, Ukraine
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: We face a critical juncture in Ukraine. There is no real ceasefire; indeed, there was a significant increase in fighting along the line of contact in eastern Ukraine in mid-January, with Russian/separatist forces launching attacks on the Donetsk airport and other areas. Instead of a political settlement, Moscow currently seeks to create a frozen conflict in eastern Ukraine as a means to pressure and destabilize the Ukrainian government. Russians continue to be present in the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts in substantial numbers and have introduced significant amounts of heavy weapons. This could be preparation for another major Russian/ separatist offensive.
  • Topic: NATO, Government
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Ukraine, Moscow
  • Author: Alan Riley
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Germany may be seeking to expedite the construction of Russia's Nordstream 2 pipeline by shielding the controversial project from tough the laws of the European Union (EU), according to a transcript of talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Energy Minster Sigmar Gabriel, Atlantic Council Senior Fellow Alan Riley writes in "Nordstream 2: Too Many Obstacles, Legal, Economic, and Political to Be Delivered?".
  • Topic: Energy Policy, International Law, International Trade and Finance, Natural Resources, European Union
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe