Publications

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“Russia’s interference in the US presidential election in 2016 sent a signal to the West: democratic societies are deeply vulnerable to foreign influence,” writes Dr. Alina Polyakova in The Kremlin’s Trojan Horses 2.0: Russian Influence in Greece, Italy, and Spain, a new report from the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center. Following a successful installment on Russian influence in France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, this report examines Russian political presence in Southern Europe.

 
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“Ukraine’s displaced persons can and should play a role in a sustained peace process, and many are already building bridges and fostering local reconciliation,” write authors Lauren Van Metre, Steven E. Steiner, and Melinda Haring, in "Ukraine’s Internally Displaced Persons Hold a Key to Peace," a new issue brief by the Atlantic Council’s Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center and the United States Institute of Peace. After four years of ongoing conflict, Ukraine is home to the world’s ninth-largest population of internally displaced persons (IDPs), with nearly 1.6 million Ukrainians officially registered as IDPs. One third of the displaced Ukrainian population plans to integrate into local communities rather than return to their original home, creating a unique model of local support and integration during conflict. This issue brief examines Ukraine as a possible model for an “enlightened” resettlement process that promotes social cohesion, democratic development, and a constituency for peace.

 
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In “The New Russia Sanctions Law–What It Does and How to Make It Work,” authors Ambassador Daniel Fried, distinguished fellow at the Atlantic Council and former coordinator for sanctions policy at the US State Department, and Brian O’Toole, a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, explain that Congress primarily adopted the law to block a unilateral lifting of sanctions, which was under consideration in the early days of the Trump administration. Fried and O’Toole add that, by passing the act, Congress was able to demonstrate its determination to resist Russian aggression in Ukraine and elsewhere and to penalize Russia for hacking the 2016 US presidential election. This paper includes an analysis of the law’s key sanctions provisions, suggestions to the administration about how to implement them, and key areas for the business community to watch, from two former US government officials who helped design and run US sanctions on Russia until earlier this year.

 
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Emerging artificial intelligence (AI) tools will provide propagandists radically enhanced capabilities to manipulate human minds. Human cognition is a complex system, and AI tools are very good at decoding complex systems. Interactions on social media, browsing the Internet, and even grocery shopping provide thousands of data points from which technologists can build psychological profiles on nearly every citizen. When provided rich databases of information about us, machines will know our personalities, wants, needs, annoyances, and fears better than we know them ourselves. Over the next few years, MADCOMs—the integration of AI systems into machine-driven communications tools for use in computational propaganda—will gain enhanced ability to influence people, tailoring persuasive, distracting, or intimidating messaging toward individuals based on their unique personalities and backgrounds, a form of highly personalized propaganda.

 
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“Revelations around Russian efforts to shape the 2016 US presidential election through the use of disinformation, bots, and hacking have thrust the problems of “fake news” and social media manipulation into the public spotlight,” writes Tim Hwang, director of the Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Fund, in "Digital Disinformation: A Primer," a new publication from the Atlantic Council’s Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center and the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung. 
The aim of the piece is to provide a concise handbook of key terms, major actors, and policy recommendations to address current and emerging threats, including trolling campaigns, cyber-attacks, and artificial intelligence (AI). Disinformation threats are only likely to grow as both nation-state and non-state actors exploit technological advancements in hacking, AI and machine learning, and metadata. “Funding should be put toward the creation of collaborative online platforms for fact-checking digital media, enabling journalists and citizens to more quickly work together to reject or authenticate disinformation circulating through the web,” advises Mr. Hwang who calls for a number of proactive steps to be taken by US congressional members.

 
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The US Congress enacted the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938 (FARA) to ensure that the American people were aware when foreign governments funded media sources; at the time, their concerns focused on the Nazi regime in Germany. Today, this issue has resurfaced with concerns about the Russian propaganda outlet RT (formerly Russia Today). RT broadcasts are reliably consistent with official statements of the Russian government, which is unsurprising, as it is 99 percent funded by the Kremlin. In Agent of Influence, author Elena Postnikova not only argues that RT should register with FARA but makes a legal case for it while laying out recommendations for policy makers. At a minimum, RT’s activities warrant a thorough investigation by the Department of Justice (DOJ). Strong evidence supports the conclusion that Russia’s RT is owned, controlled, and financed by the Russian state. RT advances Russia’s interests abroad and uses communication channels to influence US domestic and foreign policy. RT has not presented evidence to support that it is a bona fide media organization, which would be excluded from registration. If RT fails to respond to a DOJ inquiry or to present ample evidence that it should be exempt, an enforcement action should follow.

 
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“Gazprom is one of the Kremlin’s main cash generators and international political tools. The company subsidizes Russia’s wars in Ukraine and Syria, as well as the Kremlin’s well-funded effort to undermine European unity through propaganda and support for anti-European parties,” writes Ilya Zaslavskiy in "The Kremlin’s Gas Games in Europe: Implications for Policy Makers," a new brief from the Atlantic Council’s Dinu Patriciu’s Eurasia Center and the Free Russia Foundation.

 
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It has been more than two years since the European Union (EU) and the United States imposed economic sanctions on Russia for its aggression in Ukraine. For some of the measures that is time enough to evaluate effectiveness. “The sanctions’ greatest achievement is that they have been an important demonstration of transatlantic unity. Still, there are intermediate goals, not simply full compliance, that this report considers: to contain Russia’s adventurism and to craft a cautionary tale in which Russia pays a high price for—and the West takes a principled stand against—the Kremlin’s violation of international law and its neighbor’s sovereignty,” writes Dr. Sergey Aleksashenko, author of Evaluating Western Sanctions on Russia, a new report from the Atlantic Council’s Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center and the Global Business and Economics Program. 

 
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Since Putin’s return to power in 2012, the Kremlin has accelerated its efforts to resurrect the arsenal of ‘active measures’…” writes Dr. Alina Polyakova in The Kremlin’s Trojan Horses: Russian Influence in France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, a new report from the Atlantic Council’s Dinu Patriciu’s Eurasia Center. Western European democracies are not immune to the Kremlin’s tactics of influence, which seeks to turn Western liberal virtues–free media, plurality of opinion, and openness–into vulnerabilities to be exploited. 

 
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“The Eastern Mediterranean’s hydrocarbon discoveries have massive consequences for the region, even though when considered on a global scale they are relatively small,” writes David Koranyi in the foreword to the Atlantic Council report, Hydrocarbon Developments in the Eastern Mediterranean. This report offers an important examination of the technical and geopolitical obstacles to and opportunities for creating a vibrant hydrocarbon market in the Eastern Mediterranean. 

 


    

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