WASHINGTON, DC – A group of former officials and experts from leading democracies called today for a robust and principled new strategy toward Russia. In a report issued by the Atlantic Council and other leading global think tanks from Canada, France, South Korea, the United Kingdom, the European Union, and Italy, the group calls upon the West to adopt a long-term strategy of “constrainment” aimed at countering Russia’s challenge to the democratic order.

Russia, the report contends, has violated fundamental norms with its invasion and annexation of Crimea and its meddling in the democratic election process in the United States and now Europe. In addition, the Kremlin appears to be conducting “a campaign of political assassination” against critics of Putin and may be complicit in war crimes in Syria and Ukraine.

One of the report’s authors, Ash Jain, senior fellow with the Atlantic Council, notes that Russia under President Vladimir Putin is “determined to challenge the West and undermine the US-led democratic order that has kept the world safe and prosperous over the past seventy years.”

The report has drawn praise from members of Congress and former US officials.

Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who recently signed a Senate letter urging the Trump administration to pursue a tough-minded Russia policy, said the report “presents a clear-eyed and comprehensive approach to relations with Russia that highlights the potential for cooperation on areas of mutual interest, while acknowledging the severity of the Russian threat and the need for sustained, U.S.-led engagement to defend shared values and interests.”

Alexander Vershbow, former US ambassador to NATO and Russia, and former NATO deputy secretary general, said “this timely report – exactly three years after Russia launched its aggression against Ukraine — offers a comprehensive framework for the United States and its allies to counter the Russian challenge to our security interests and our democratic institutions.”

As the Trump administration considers a new approach to “get along” with Russia, the report calls for “principled engagement” and cautions against offering tradeoffs that would give Moscow a pass for its past actions.

The toughminded strategy laid out in the report rests on five key pillars, which includes issuing clear redlines against Russian cyberattacks and election meddling. It also calls for a more robust effort to counter Russian propaganda, and new policies to support the democratic aspirations of the Russian people. The report emphasizes the importance of Western unity in the face of Moscow’s attempts to divide the European Union and sow discord between the United States and its allies.

The recommendations in the report will be presented to officials in the Trump administration and Congress, and discussed at the next meeting of the D-10 Strategy Forum this spring. The Forum is a regular gathering of senior strategy officials and experts from ten leading global democracies.

The report was issued jointly by the Atlantic Council and Canada’s Centre for International Governance Innovation. For interviews or more information about the report, email press@atlanticcouncil.org.


The Atlantic Council is a nonpartisan organization that promotes constructive US leadership and engagement in international affairs based on the central role of the Atlantic community in meeting today’s global challenges. For more information, please visit AtlanticCouncil.org and follow us on Twitter @AtlanticCouncil.

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