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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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The past decade has witnessed a marked increase in Russian aggression and assertiveness. Many Eastern European nations, the Baltic States in particular, have recognized this disturbing and fundamental change in the European security environment and are responding both nationally and multilaterally.

 

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While President Putin announced the end of Russia’s military operations with much fanfare, the modest forces withdrawn thereafter suggest that by no means is Russia’s military role in Syria over. 

The complete report is available online: http://publications.atlanticcouncil.org/distract-deceive-destroy/

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In this new report from the Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center, Alan Riley proposes new legal avenues that Ukraine can pursue to recover asset losses resulting from corruption under the Yanukovych regime and Russian occupation of Ukrainian territory.

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2015 brought important reforms to Ukraine, particularly in the energy sector. It is in this light that Dr. Anders Åslund, Resident Senior Fellow in the Atlantic Council’s Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center, examines the promises kept and broken by the Post-Maidan government in Ukraine. “Never before has a Ukrainian government carried out so many sensible energy reforms, and in no other area has the Ukrainian government achieved reforms as radical as in the energy sector in 2015” states Dr. Aslund.

 

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The risk of nuclear war between NATO and Russia may be higher now than at any time since the 1980s. Over the past decade, Russia has made nuclear weapons a predominant element of its national security strategy and military doctrine, while NATO has consciously de-emphasized its nuclear posture. Moscow is currently revitalizing all three legs of its nuclear triad and may be prepared to use nuclear weapons, if necessary to avoid losing a regional war with NATO. In "The Renewed Russian Nuclear Threat and NATO Nuclear Deterrence Posture," Atlantic Council Nonresident Senior Fellow Matthew Kroenig writes that NATO needs to realign its priorities by increasing the importance of its nuclear deterrence mission and considering possible modifications to its conventional and nuclear posture in order to deter the Russian nuclear threat.

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In Developing a Western Energy Strategy for the Black Sea Region and Beyond, Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council's Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center and Global Energy Center Ariel Cohen addresses the urgent need for a European policy on Black Sea energy following Russia's annexation of Crimea. Dr. Cohen, himself a native of Yalta in Crimea, draws on his wealth of experience in Russian and energy affairs to argue that NATO should boost its military presence in the area, while the EU should work to limit the overwhelming hold of Russia's state gas exporter, Gazprom, on Europe's energy sector. To reduce reliance on Gazprom, which accounts for much of the gas supplied to Southeast Europe, Cohen advocates for lifting government restriction on shale gas exploration, establishing a favorable tax regime for exploration and production of nonconventional resources, and establishing a network of gas interconnectors in the Black Sea.

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In "The Militarization of Crimea under Russian Occupation," Crimean activist Andrii Klymenko explains how the Kremlin has moved to tighten its grip on Crimea as the world turns its focus toward Syria. Indeed, Russia has proven itself to be settling in for the long haul in Crimea, with mass relocations of Russian military servicemen to the peninsula spurring housing shortages and massive infrastructure projects.

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Russia is at war with Ukraine. Russian citizens and soldiers are fighting and dying in a war of their government's own making. Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to deny Russian involvement in the fighting, but the evidence is overwhelming and indisputable. Drawing upon open source information, Hiding in Plain Sight: Putin's War in Ukraine provides irrefutable evidence of direct Russian military involvement in eastern Ukraine.

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