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While the West continues to support efforts to democratize the countries of the Eastern Partnership (EaP), shifting international trends threaten to slow the momentum. Increasing confrontation among Western leaders—evidenced, inter alia, by the outbreak of protectionist trade policies and Donald Trump’s dissociation from G7 positions at the June 2018 summit in Quebec—can have unintended consequences across the EaP region, which needs Western harmony if it is to align with Euro-Atlantic visions of common values and security.

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Recent Sino-Indian and Indo-Russian informal agreements to undertake joint projects in Afghanistan mark a geographical paradigm shift in the strategic ambitions of the region’s largest stakeholders. Partnerships in economic and regional connectivity offer the potential to reinvigorate interest in the Afghan peace process and to initiate shifts in regional alignments. But challenges to cooperation remain, including uncertainties regarding US policy in South Asia and Iranian sanctions, the threat of the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran spilling over into the region, the role of Pakistan, and questions regarding the ultimate agenda of the Taliban. Despite these challenges, the opportunity for cooperation between India, China and Russia in the region signals new thinking regarding the Afghan War, and the potential beginning of enhanced cooperation between key stakeholders of an increasingly volatile and unpredictable international system.

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Since the recession of 2008-09, the Russian economy has experienced dramatic highs and lows. Oil prices, sanctions, and geopolitics have all had an impact. Dr. Sergey Aleksashenko, a nonresident senior fellow for global economy and development at the Brookings Institution, analyzes the scale of the impact and the impact of the Russian government's economic and financial support. Dr. Aleksashenko discusses the short-term constraints and the long term challenges for Russian economic growth.

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Over the past eighteen years, Vladimir Putin has perfected a peculiar style of rule in Moscow. A product of the KGB, Putin quickly appointed many of his siloviki colleagues to senior positions in the government shortly after coming to power. Once in office, his associates enriched themselves by looting state resources and seizing vulnerable private resources. The quest for economic gain also opened the door to cooperation between senior government officials and organized crime.

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Since Putin’s annexation of Crimea and military aggression in Donbas—and especially since the 2016 US presidential election—the spread of Kremlin propaganda and disinformation has become a dominant subject of discussion and debate in the West. Academic research, investigative journalism, government inquiries, and NGO activities have drawn back the curtain on the Kremlin’s efforts to meddle in and distort the Western information space.

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In recent years, Western analysts have become aware of the possibility that Russia may conduct limited nuclear “de-escalation” strikes in a bid to escalate its way out of failed conventional aggression. The United States and its NATO allies, however, have not developed a clear strategy for deterring limited Russian nuclear strikes. Specifically, in the event of a limited Russian nuclear attack, how would the United States and its NATO allies respond?

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The buildup and threatening exercise of Russian conventional forces has been an important component of Russia’s multifaceted anti-Western campaign. NATO has the inherent capacity to deter, or if necessary prevail in, a conventional conflict. Its forces, however, while large, are currently neither adequately ready nor oriented to ensure that such deterrence is fully credible or that a warfighting campaign could be promptly successful. This report proposes that NATO should enhance its deterrent and warfighting posture in Europe by adopting at the 2018 NATO Summit the strategy of “Effective Deterrence by Prompt Reinforcement,” specifically in reference to Russian activities that have increased the conventional challenge to the Alliance. Key components of the strategy include a readiness initiative, enhanced intelligence, rapid decision-making, prompt reinforcement by United States and European ground and air forces, expanded maritime capabilities, integration of highly capable cyber nations’ capacities, and establishment of an integrated plan for the multi-domain defense of Europe.

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Aleppo has been described as the Srebrenica, and the Rwanda, of our time. After more than four years of stalemate, and months of siege and battle, December 2016 saw the last of the population of the besieged eastern half of the city evacuated on the now-infamous green buses. The evacuation was the result of a crescendo of brutality. Years of indiscriminate bombings killed thousands, and destroyed much of the east of the city.  They gave way to months of brutal siege, and finally, to weeks of bombardment and fighting. The final assault resembled the razing of a city and its last inhabitants.

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China and Russia do not have an established history of prolonged cooperative engagement. However, beginning in 2014, the two countries began laying the foundation for an enduring energy partnership. A secure energy relationship between China and Russia could have profound geopolitical effects in Asia, as well as in Europe. The ramifications of this relationship could alter the role and influence of the United States in Asia.

In this issue brief, Dr. Miyeon Oh, nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center and Brent Scowcroft Center, provides critical analysis of the evolving relationship between China and Russia vis-à-vis energy trade. Examining the evolution of various energy agreements, Dr. Oh breaks her analysis into three stages: relations before the gas deals were signed, relations at the time of signing, and relations following signing. 

 

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