Europe faced a wave of ISIS-inspired terrorist attacks last year, from Brussels to Nice to Berlin. As ISIS-occupied territories in Iraq and Syria continue to shrink under the bombardment of U.S. and coalition forces, former CIA Acting Director John McLaughlin told The Cipher Brief, “I would anticipate the greatest post-caliphate ...

European-wide defense is based on two elements: the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the European Union. Understanding how each institution may develop in the coming years and coordinate together on defense is vital to assessing the future of European and transatlantic security. The Cipher Brief spoke with the United Kingdom’s ...

A proliferation of external threats, including terrorism and cyber attacks, combined with a fractious European Union places Europe in a vulnerable position at the start of the new year. The Cipher Brief’s Kaitlin Lavinder sat down with former Deputy Secretary General of NATO (2012-2016) Ambassador Alexander Vershbow to discuss the ...

President Donald Trump sat down with British Prime Minister Theresa May today (Jan. 27), in his first meeting with a major world leader since taking office. Trade, a key concern for May following her nation’s vote to leave the European Union, the future of NATO, and Russia highlighted the agenda. ...

The Baltics are standing at attention when it comes to defense. By 2018, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are all set to spend at least 2 percent of GDP on defense – the NATO defense spending goal agreed to by all members as requisite for equal and sufficient contribution to the ...

The Baltic countries – Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania – are increasing their defense spending. Estonia already spends 2 percent of its GDP on defense – the NATO spending goal. Latvia and Lithuania plan to hit 2 percent in the coming years. The Cipher Brief’s Kaitlin Lavinder spoke with Lithuanian Ambassador ...

Latvia – like neighbors Estonia and Lithuania – is increasing defense spending and working to build a coordinated defense. This year, NATO member states, including the U.S., are deploying troops to be stationed in each of the Baltic nations, as a deterrence to Russia. Latvia’s State Secretary at the Ministry ...

Poland and other countries in the region – particularly NATO members located on Europe’s eastern flank – look to the new American administration with both anxiety and hope. During the election campaign, President-elect Donald Trump sent mixed messages about NATO and his willingness to maintain the same level of U.S. ...

The start of a new U.S. administration, elections across Europe in 2017 that could drastically alter politics on the continent, and an increase in the number and kinds of external threats facing the world over the past few years rattle the NATO transatlantic defense alliance. Add to that President-elect Donald ...

The future of the transatlantic defense alliance is in jeopardy, according to news reports from the past few months. It all started with then-candidate Donald Trump’s comments in March about NATO being “obsolete.” Then, in July, Trump seemed to throw into question Article 5 of the NATO treaty – the ...

Retired Gen. James Mattis called Russia the “principal threat” to the United States’ security and said he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin is “trying to break” the NATO alliance, starkly contrasting his views with that of President-elect Donald Trump during his Senate confirmation hearing for Secretary of Defense on Thursday. ...

From Constitutional Court reforms that make the judiciary less independent of political power to restrictions on journalists to suppressing of the opposition, Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party is causing a commotion within the European Union (EU). European authorities consistently make their displeasure with the Polish government actions known, ...

President-elect Donald Trump will inherit a close defense alliance with Poland when he enters the White House later this month. America is getting ready to deploy additional troops to Poland. An armored brigade combat team from Fort Carson, Colorado will be based in western Poland soon. By April, a U.S. ...

Poland’s democratic institutions are under pressure from the ruling right-wing Law and Justice party (PiS). PiS efforts to control the judiciary and media risk alienating its Western allies, which it relies on for defense and national security. The Cipher Brief spoke with Piotr Buras, Head of the European Council on ...

The attempted military coup against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is perhaps the most important political event in Turkey of the past 16 years, and has fundamentally changed the country's internal politics and external priorities. Ambassador James Jeffrey's article, written for The Cipher Brief on July 19, explores some of ...

NATO envoys and Russia’s ambassador to the 28-nation military alliance met in Brussels on Monday, as relations between the two sides remain tense. It was their third meeting this year. In July, the Alliance announced plans to move up to 4,000 troops into Poland and the three Baltic states, to ...

In the recent past, every new U.S. administration has attempted to improve relations with Russia to address mutual security threats such as combating terrorism. Both President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama sought to repair damaged relations with Russia early in their administrations, but, unfortunately, their hopes were eventually ...

The Nordic countries – in particular Sweden, Finland, and Norway – are bolstering defense relations with the United States at a time when Russia had taken a more aggressive stance in Europe. In June, Sweden signed a defense agreement with the U.S., and four months later Finland and the U.S. ...

Sweden and Finland are moving closer to the western sphere of defense, while Norway has long held strong defense relations with the U.S. and NATO, as one of NATO’s founding members. The Cipher Brief’s Kaitlin Lavinder spoke with Olga Oliker, Senior Advisor and Director of the Russia and Eurasia Program ...

Sweden, Finland, and Norway (the only NATO member of the three) are inching closer to the western sphere of defense. Russian incursions over the past few years – from Georgia in 2008 to Ukraine in 2014 – and the need to bolster overall defense in response to an increasingly unstable ...

The election of Donald Trump as the next U.S. President has created uncertainty among European leaders as they consider the future of defense and security cooperation with the United States. Trump’s campaign rhetoric calling NATO – the transatlantic defense alliance – “obsolete” and demanding member nations contribute more to their ...

Donald Trump’s win over Hillary Clinton for the presidency of the United States surprised a number of European leaders. Given Trump’s statements about NATO being “obsolete” and the need for all allies to contribute their fair share, NATO’s European member states are trying to figure out what the alliance will ...

Hungary’s Viktor Orban is creating an illiberal democracy in central Europe. This is souring relations with the European Union (EU) and the current U.S. administration, while pulling Hungary back into the orbit of its eastern neighbor – 60 years after a massive uprising against Soviet influence. Europe’s migration crisis has ...

The Fund for Peace’s (FFP) 2016 Fragile States Index ranks Hungary, under Prime Minister Viktor Orban, as the “most-worsened” country this year, due in part to its recent track record on refugees, human rights, and rule of law. FFP Executive Director J. J. Messner, who is also the editor of ...

Hungary has decidedly taken a turn toward “illiberal” democracy, which is hurting its relationship with the United States. The Cipher Brief spoke with Ambassador András Simonyi, who served as Hungarian Ambassador to the U.S. from 2002-2007 and Hungarian Ambassador to NATO before that, about Hungary’s path to illiberalism. The Cipher ...

It’s often hard to discern when a tipping point arrives in any international crisis.  For those of us working the Balkan beat in the 1990s, it wasn’t until the 1995 massacre at Srebrenica that U.S. and NATO Air Forces finally bombed the Bosnian Serb Army.  While Srebrenica was horrifying, it ...

The relationship between Russia and the United States has always been and will always be complicated.  In the U.S. and the West in general, hope seems always to spring eternal.  The thinking, boiled down to its essence, goes something like this:  if we just keep trying, if we just keep ...

A group of high-level defense officials from Central and Eastern Europe and the United States on Wednesday warned of the threat of Russian aggression, discussing ideas to respond to the Kremlin’s moves in its neighborhood and beyond. At the 8th annual Center for European Policy Analysis Forum in Washington, D.C., ...

Tensions between the U.S. and Turkey have been on the rise, beginning with different priorities over Syria and ISIS, and then ham-handed American reactions to, and Turkish accusations of, U.S. involvement in the failed July 15 Turkish coup. Unsurprisingly, this has raised the question, can the U.S. rely on Turkey?   ...

The meaning of security in Europe is changing. The continent faces a revanchist neighbor to the east, a cauldron of instability to the south (with repercussions spilling across the border), and homegrown terrorists inspired by the likes of the Islamic State (ISIS). Countries are responding by tightening the lid on ...

The British people shocked the international community when they voted to quit the European Union (EU) this summer. Markets tumbled and fears mounted that the United Kingdom (UK) or the EU might fall into political or economic crisis, or begin to unravel completely. Shortly afterwards, Prime Minister Theresa May attempted ...

What presidential candidate Donald Trump says on the spur of the moment about foreign events – without understanding, or perhaps caring about its impact overseas -- can create serious and potentially dangerous situations for Americans abroad. Take Trump’s outlandish claim on August 10th that President Obama was “the founder of ...

Russia is back in the U.S. political spotlight in a way it hasn’t been since the Cold War. President Vladimir Putin is increasing Russia’s show of force around the globe – fanning the flames of the Syrian civil war as an ally to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, allegedly hacking the ...

Ukraine and Georgia have made clear their desires to become full members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in order to ensure their security. But it is precisely this aim that guarantees their insecurity. Russian President Vladimir Putin has made his red line very clear to both Ukraine and ...

In 2008, Russia invaded Georgia, after NATO allies at the Bucharest Summit made clear that Georgia and Ukraine should be offered membership in the future. Although Georgia remains outside of the alliance, partially due to worries of some NATO countries about provoking Russia again, Georgia still looks poised to be ...

In 2014, Russia illegally annexed Crimea, six years after the NATO summit in Bucharest – where members signaled that Ukraine and Georgia should be made NATO allies in the future – and immediately following then Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych’s ouster, stemming from public upheaval over Yanukovych’s refusal to sign an ...

Following Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s meeting this week in Russia, NATO issued a strong statement making clear it views Turkey as a “valued ally” whose membership is “not in question.” One day after Tuesday’s meeting in St. Petersburg — where the two leaders highlighted efforts ...

The Republican National Convention ended Thursday night with nominee Donald Trump vowing to be the “law and order candidate.” His speech was peppered with national security pronouncements, from criticizing Democratic president candidate Hillary Clinton’s legacy as Secretary of State to declaring that under his plan the United States will destroy ...

Britain will be more committed to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and its bilateral relationships – particularly with the U.S. – post-Brexit, said Britain’s Secretary of Defense Michael Fallon in Washington on Thursday. The UK has “no stronger bilateral relationship than that with the U.S.” and together, the UK ...

The Warsaw Summit of NATO heads of state this past weekend affirmed the strategic and ideological importance of the U.S. to the alliance and vice versa. NATO provides security to the European continent. “Europe being secure makes the U.S. more secure because we can do more things in more places ...

The NATO summit in Warsaw this past weekend provided a modest but important boost to a Europe in crisis. Allies demonstrated cohesion and unity in the face of diverse threats to their security. They took steps to bolster NATO’s deterrence and resilience that would have once been unthinkable. These steps ...

Heads of state and government in the North Atlantic Alliance (NATO) met in Warsaw over the weekend to discuss their response to the multiple threats and challenges facing the transatlantic community. The Cipher Brief spoke with Jeff Rathke, Deputy Director of the Europe Program at the Center for Strategic and ...

Moving ahead with what President Barack Obama calls the “most significant reinforcement of our collective defense [at] any time since the Cold War,’’ NATO allies approved over the weekend upgrading and expanding their air, land, sea, and cyber capabilities to face unprecedented challenges coming from all directions — including from ...

Tensions between Russia and NATO have escalated to near Cold War levels since Vladimir Putin's seizure of Crimea and ongoing support of separatists in the Ukraine. The U.S. and its allies have imposed stiff sanctions, and NATO plans to deploy four combat battalions to front line countries bordering Russia. In ...

The NATO Alliance faces an increasingly complex, diffuse threat environment.  Consequently, we are always striving toward more integrated intelligence to stay a step ahead.  NATO is positioned to take an important, integrative step in establishing the new Assistant Secretary General for Intelligence and Security.  We fully endorse this, having firsthand ...

NATO has much to discuss at its annual summit in Warsaw on July 8 – 9.  From the implications of the UK’s decision to exit the EU, to aggressive Russian actions in the Baltics, to the war with ISIS, to terror attacks and refugee flows across Europe, to instability in ...

NATO heads of state will meet in Warsaw this Friday and Saturday at a time when the U.S. has been accused by some of pulling back from the world stage in general and from Europe in particular, as the Obama Administration pivoted to the Asia Pacific region and economic interests ...

We are in a season of terror attacks, and the odds are high they will increase over the short term. The principle drivers will be the so-called Islamic State and its various affiliates, as well as the still-dangerous al Qaeda, which is wounded but still capable of launching attacks. Worst ...

Tuesday evening’s terrorist attack at the Ataturk Airport in Istanbul may have severe implications for Turkey moving forward. Although there have yet to be claims of responsibility and questions still remain unanswered, many, including Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, have pointed their fingers towards ISIS as the culprit for Tuesday’s ...

It’s not back to business as usual, but NATO and Russian ambassadors did meet in Brussels on Wednesday for the first time in two years. A halting of all practical cooperation between the two sides was imposed by NATO after Russia’s support for an armed insurgency in eastern Ukraine and ...