The Cipher Brief: National Security news, analysis and expert commentary.

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Blinken heads to China

Ukraine says Russia deployed up to 25,000 troops to try and seize Chasiv Yar

U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria attacked for first time since February

Poland's president says ready to host NATO nuclear weapons

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Cipher Brief Expert Perspectives

Israel Strikes Iran

BOTTOM LINE UP FRONT – Less than one week after Iran’s attack against Israel, Israel struck Iran early on Friday, hitting a military air base […] More

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Dispatches from Kyiv: Glenn Corn

Alternative Perspectives

Dispatches from Kyiv: Paul Kolbe

Dispatches from Kyiv: General David Petraeus (Ret.)

Disinformation: A Weapon to Destroy Democracy?

Book Reviews

The Dead Drop

Dead Drop

This Week’s Dead Drop: April 19

PAYBACKS ARE HELL: Much has been made about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s penchant for making individuals who have defected from Russia or otherwise offended his regime, to pay a price. The 2018 attack on Sergei Skripal is just one example.  But apparently, the Kremlin is not the only outfit that goes after citizens who have opted to change sides.  Recently, we’ve been reading stories about Vasily Prozorov, a former Ukrainian intelligence officer, who defected to Russia back in 2018. Video emerged of Prozorov starting his Toyota Land Cruiser in a Moscow parking lot [...] More

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State Secrets

The Cipher Brief made its first reporting trip to Ukraine in February of 2022. That’s when we first met Tymofiy Mylovanov, the President of the Kyiv School of Economics. When we sat down with him then, Ukraine was preparing to mark one year since Russia’s brutal invasion. Mylovanov was sober at the time about what it would take to win the war and rebuild the country. Just over a year later, with an aid package that has been held up for months in Washington - I sat down with him again to talk about what it will take to rebuild Ukraine even as the war rages on - and why he still has hope even amid the challenges – for what lies ahead.

Cover Stories: Spies, Books & Entertainment

CNN anchor and Chief National Security Analyst Jim Sciutto is out with a new book called “The Return of Great Powers: Russia, China and the Next World War.” Drawing on his reporting from current hot spots like Ukraine, Taiwan and the Middle East - and in depth interviews with top U.S. and foreign leaders, Sciutto has written about the precarious nature of global security and how developments in each of these hot spots impacts the other. We’ll talk to him about how Chinese President Xi and Russian President Putin have similar views about their destinies in expanding their countries borders.

The Fight

There are few who understand this war better than Nataliya Bugayova. She lived and worked in Ukraine for years. Her present focus – as a non-resident fellow and the former Russia team lead at The Institute for the Study of War, is on the analysis of the Kremlin’s operations and on what’s happening in Ukraine today. She also serves as Director of Strategic Intelligence at a company called Vertical Knowledge.

Bugayova was part of a visiting delegation with The Cipher Brief that was led by General David Petraeus last fall. We sat down shortly afterward, to get her perspective on how this war is ‘really’ going and how she sees it ending.

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Since retiring from CIA in 2017, I’ve been honored to be a part of the exceptional Cipher Brief team providing expert assessment – whether it’s nuclear proliferation, transnational terrorism, and climate change or hard targets like Iran, North Korea, China, and Russia – The Cipher Brief delivers without the predisposed ideological bias so often prevalent in today’s discourse.

Daniel Hoffman Former CIA Chief of Station

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General Keith Alexander Former Director, National Security Agency

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Paul Kolbe Director of The Intelligence Project at Harvard University's Belfer Center

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Norm Roule Former National Intelligence Manager for Iran, ODNI

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Emile Nakhleh Former Member, CIA's Senior Intelligence Service