The U.S. is calling for more rigorous enforcement of sanctions against Russia after Russian ships fired on and seized three Ukrainian boats on Sunday, claiming the ships had ‘illegally’ entered its waters.  Russia has been using Ukraine as a provocation point for some time, so will the tougher enforcement of ...

OPINION -- Russian President Vladimir Putin has managed to wage a global charm offensive, even while supporting a number of actions that have drawn world criticism, including the GRU-sponsored attempted assassination (using a nerve agent, Novichok) of former GRU officer Sergei Skripal in Salisbury, England, the GRU-sponsored hacking of web ...

OPINION -- President Donald Trump’s recent threat to withdraw from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) provides another false justification for adding to a needless, nuclear arms race that is already underway. Yes, the United States has a right to protest the fact that the Russians are breaking limitations ...

By Mark Urban Reviewed by Cipher Brief Expert and former Chief of Station, CIA Dan Hoffman The Skripal Files, Henry Holt & Company, 2018 BBC Diplomatic Editor Mark Urban’s latest book is a gripping real-life spy thriller, which details the career and near death of Russian Military Intelligence (GRU) Colonel Sergey ...

“The concept of plausible denial had an undeniable flavor of wishful thinking about it”, wrote CIA veteran William Hood in his book on Soviet military intelligence (GRU)[1] officer and CIA spy, Pyotr S. Popov. Hood might just as well have been commenting on the risk calculus of Russian President Vladimir ...

In a press conference on Monday, President Donald Trump reiterated his view that meeting with other world leaders is important, and again characterized his recent meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin as “great”.  While details of that meeting still haven’t been widely shared, the President noted four areas where he ...

OPINION -- President Trump’s repeated message that Russia’s possession of nuclear weapons requires him to have better relations with Vladimir Putin, should encourage China to sharply increase the size of its strategic nuclear forces. That’s the message in an article entitled, “China can learn from Trump’s Russia stance,” carried in ...

As most of the President’s men and women in senior roles re-iterated and even provided more detail about the Russian threat to U.S. national security in the days following the Helsinki summit, the President tasked his national security advisor to extend an invitation to Russian President Vladimir Putin to visit ...

Cipher Brief Expert and former CIA Station Chief Dan Hoffman was in Helsinki filing question and answer dispatches for Cipher Brief members. Here’s a look at his post-summit brief: The Cipher Brief: Presidents Trump and Putin met for a little over two hours on Monday.  We’re told that aides were not ...

The Cipher Brief spoke with Jill Dougherty, Global Fellow at The Wilson Center and CNN's former Moscow Bureau Chief, about what Putin will be able to take away from this summit. The Cipher Brief:  Tell me a little bit about how this summit is being reported on in Russia? Dougherty:  ...

Cipher Brief Expert and former CIA Station Chief Dan Hoffman is on the ground in Helsinki filing question and answer dispatches for Cipher Brief members.  He has deep expertise in the region and speaks fluent Finnish. Here’s a look at his first dispatch, hours before the summit is set to ...

UPDATED: As U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin emerge from their summit meeting in Helsinki, Finland, in which no aides were allowed in the meeting, The Cipher Brief takes an analytical look at the U.S. - Russian relationship under Putin.  Cipher Brief Expert Rob Dannenberg breaks down what we have ...

Two conditions are clear as the U.S. and Russian Presidents prepare meet in Helsinki. First, U.S.-Russian relations are arguably at their lowest point since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. To make matters worse, it is possible that relations have not hit rock ...

As a former member of the CIA’s Senior Intelligence Service, I’m worried about the upcoming summit between the Chekist former KGB officer, President Vladimir Putin, and the former real estate businessman and reality show personality, President Donald Trump. My concerns center around the fact that Russia has much to gain, ...

Bottom Line: Moscow’s increasingly assertive military activity in Eastern Europe and the Middle East seeks to project the power of a resurgent Russia in relation to a retreating United States, while concealing its economic and political fragility at home. In doing so, the Kremlin walks a fine line between escalation ...

In a provocative new essay, Vladislav Surkov, a top aide to President Vladimir Putin, says Russia is ending a centuries-long quest to join the West and preparing for "100 years (200? 300?) of geopolitical solitude." If Russia goes this way it will be because of unwise policies, not a Western cold shoulder. In One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel ...

Russian influence operations were thrust into the public limelight in the West in 2017 with the findings of the U.S. Intelligence Community that Russia did in fact, interfere with U.S. Elections. The resulting attention did not deter the Kremlin; on the contrary – it takes pride in it. From the ...

For this last week of 2017, we asked our experts to look back on key topics for this year, and predict what they see for the year ahead. Cipher Brief expert, CIA veteran and Russia hand Steve Hall looks ahead to U.S. relations with Moscow, as Russia gears up for ...

They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Funny, that. The Soviet and Russian intelligence services have been doing exactly the same thing against us for decades, but this time it finally worked. Why? As most Americans are aware ...

The military withdrawal from Syria that President Vladimir Putin touts is less than it seems. The stakes are high because leaders in Moscow see the intervention as crucial to their nation’s status as a global power. Moscow faces a dilemma, but there is a way out, if it will only see ...

Speaking to the Russian Federal Assembly in March 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin defended his country’s annexation of Crimea and forcefully presented his national security strategy to gain the upper hand in Russia’s rivalry with the United States. He blamed the U.S. for seeking regime change through “color revolutions” and the ...

In an otherwise forgettable February 2017 interview, Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly asked Donald Trump how he could respect Russian President Vladimir Putin, who O’Reilly labeled as a “killer.” Trump shockingly defended Putin by commenting, “There are a lot of killers. We have killers. Well, you think our country is so ...

Over the last few months, Taliban orchestrated attacks have wreaked havoc across Afghanistan on a near-daily basis, leading to mounting deaths tolls for Afghan and U.S. forces as well as for Afghan citizens. To make matters worse, earlier this year, reports began to circulate in the U.S. that Russia is ...

A Trump administration “cover up” is underway. I am not talking about the concealing of activities related to the criminal investigation into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence or the firing of FBI Director James Comey – although given Sunday's public disclosure of an additional Trump campaign ...

Leaders of the world’s 20 most powerful economies met for the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, last week to discuss a wide range of multilateral issues, including international trade, climate change, and international security. This was also a chance for U.S. President Donald Trump to meet face to ...

After U.S. President Donald Trump’s lengthy meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the G20 in Hamburg, Germany, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson stated that the two had discussed Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election. After Putin denied any Russian involvement, Tillerson said Trump “is ...

In his readout of the two hour and 15 minute meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Trump repeatedly brought up Russian meddling in the U.S. election during the meeting. In his words, the two leaders had “a very ...

After weeks of anticipation, U.S. President Donald Trump finally met face-to-face with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany. The relationship between the two leaders has been characterized by lofty praise and suggestions of cooperation on the fight against ISIS. The relationship between ...

President Donald Trump immediately brought up the issue of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election during his first face-to-face meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, according to U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Tillerson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey ...

It was good to see President Donald Trump acknowledge on Twitter recently that the Russians did indeed conduct cyber attacks and influence operations against the United States during last year’s presidential elections.  In his inimitable style, Trump unsurprisingly made the acknowledgement while criticizing the Obama administration for knowing of the ...

Russians are fond of their aphorism, v chuzhoi monastir so svoim ustavom, ne khodyat – “No-one goes to another monastery with their own charter," the Russian equivalent to “when in Rome, do as the Romans do.” Soviet leaders and their Russian successors have sought to exploit Russians' appreciation for their special historical ...

Showtime claimed its four-part documentary of Oliver Stone interviews with Vladimir Putin provided “unparalleled access” to the Russian ruler and “intimate insight into his personal and professional lives.” The timing of the show was certainly appealing, considering the intense media focus on Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential election. Unfortunately, ...

Donald Trump entered the presidency committed to improving U.S. ties with Russia, but less than three months into his term, the President says the relationship is at “an all-time low.” Trump’s comments come in the wake of last week's U.S. missile strike on Syria’s Shayrat Air Base in response to ...

The Russian effort to influence the 2016 election will remain front-and-center as the House and Senate Intelligence Committee continue their probe and the FBI moves forward on its investigation. The issue is likely to weigh on the Trump Administration for some time to come. In this regard, the Russian use ...

Vladimir Putin is portrayed in the West as the master manipulator in foreign policy, creating turmoil in U.S. and European elections and outfoxing his rivals in the Ukraine and Syria. In domestic politics, he is portrayed as a brutal but cunning tyrant, crushing dissent and murdering his harshest critics, yet ...

An explosion in the St. Petersburg metro on Monday tore open a subway car, killing at least 14 people and leaving dozens injured. Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev has called it a terrorist act, and the perpetrator has been identified as Kyrgyzstan native Akbarzhon Dzhalilov. His motive remains unknown. Despite ...

On Sunday, March 26, widespread protests broke out in more than 80 cities in the Russian Federation, apparently in response to the government's inability or unwillingness to deal with the problem of endemic corruption. Estimates of the numbers of protesters vary, with the opposition claiming that more than 30,000 participated ...

The Kyrgyz state security service identified Akbarzhon Dzhalilov, a 22-year-old Russian citizen born in Kyrgyzstan, as the assailant behind Monday’s explosion in the St. Petersburg metro. Russian investigators later confirmed the identification and said Dzhalilov planted a second bomb at the Ploshchad Vosstaniya station that did not explode. Authorities said ...

Monday’s explosion in a St. Petersburg metro car, which killed at least 14 people and left dozens injured, was described by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev as an act of terror. However, no group has claimed responsibility for the attack, and Russian President Vladimir Putin himself said it is “too ...

Vladimir Putin is smiling because he thrives on chaos, particularly in the camp of the “Main Enemy,” a term the Soviet and Russian intelligence services have long used to refer to the United States.  He is surely happy as he sees any indication of American uncertainty, irresolution, or confusion as, ...

As the House Intelligence Committee gathers on Monday to hold its first public hearing into Russian interference in the 2016 election, experts say this marks an important opportunity to begin explaining the complexities of the Kremlin’s actions to the American people — as long as it doesn’t devolve into partisan ...

I’ve covered many political scandals over the past 50 years, including Watergate, Iran-contra, and the Clinton impeachment, but the past few weeks have convinced me this country may be on the verge of one that may top them all. None of them involved a president as unprepared as Donald J. ...

President Donald Trump has never shown much interest in foreign policy issues.  The few consistent themes he has supported are to defeat ISIS, restructure trade deals, and radically improve relations with Vladimir Putin’s Russia.  While it is easy to understand the interest in destroying ISIS, and his thoughts on trade ...

Even before the release of the unclassified version of the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusions regarding Russian hacking and involvement in the U.S. presidential elections, before President-elect Donald Trump got his classified briefing on the report from the heads of the U.S. Intelligence Community, before all the reactions to the report, ...

In 2000, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, then a relative unknown outside of Russia, visited Japan.  Part of his trip included a visit to the Kodokan, the historic Judo school founded by Jigoro Kano. Putin participated in a demonstration, showing off his martial arts skills with a young Japanese student, who ...

Donald Trump will take office at the lowest point in Washington’s relations with Moscow since the end of the Cold War.  He has consistently talked about the need to establish a better relationship with Mr. Putin.  Can he do that in a way that serves American interests? The key to ...

In his first news conference since July, President-elect Donald Trump revealed he now agrees with the unanimous verdict of the U.S. intelligence community: Russia was behind the hack on the Democratic National Committee (DNC). "I think it was Russia," he said (though he later caveated “but you know what, it could ...

As Donald Trump prepares to take office, one of his earliest—and most important— foreign policy decisions will be how to move forward with the United States’ bilateral relationship with Russia. Will he pursue something along the lines of Obama’s reset or take a firmer stance? Given the president-elect’s opaque statements ...

Noon on January 20th provides an excellent opportunity for Russian President Vladimir Putin to give President-Elect Donald Trump the perfect inauguration gift - Edward Snowden. A reminder: Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor, has been living in Russia as a guest of the Government there after he stole and ...

Let there be no mistake, President Vladimir Putin believes Russia's military intervention has been an unqualified success. As with the annexation of Crimea, now almost three years ago, the West's efforts to thwart or diminish Putin's strategic initiatives have failed abjectly. Sanctions have had no effect in mitigating Russia's actions ...