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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

The Cipher Brief spoke with Network Member Rob Richer, former Associate Deputy Director for Operations at the CIA, about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s announcement of a ceasefire in Syria that went into effect on Thursday night. Richer explained that just as previous ceasefire agreements fell apart, it is unlikely that ...

Butch Cassidy graphically demonstrated that there ain’t no rules in a knife fight.  Well, so far, there ain’t no rules in cyberspace or precious few at least.  Establishing those rules and practices may take years, as it did for nuclear weapons or cold war spying.  The U.S. response to the ...

New presidents often think they can redefine relations with Russia. But will Washington ever get along with Moscow if the Kremlin does not share Western internationalist values? In this article from December 7, Cipher Brief experts John Sipher and Steven Hall, both former members of the CIA's Senior Intelligence Service, ...

Editor’s Note: Over the coming days, The Cipher Brief presents some of our most incisive coverage on key issues of 2016 and a look ahead at what is yet to come in 2017. Just before Christmas, Russian President Vladimir Putin strode onstage to field more than four hours of questions ...

After the fall of Aleppo, few would deny the influence that Russian President Vladimir Putin now wields in Syria and the Middle East - but this was not always the case. This February 18 article from the Former Head of Security at Goldman Sachs, Rob Dannenberg, offers a glimpse into ...

Russian President Vladimir Putin, a leader known for his unpredictability, may have met his match: the new President of the United States, Donald Trump. Until now, Mr. Putin knew who he was dealing with. Republicans or Democrats, the U.S. presidents he has encountered supported principles of the Western liberal democratic ...

Russian President Vladimir Putin took to the stage for a marathon end-of-year press conference on Friday, declaring Russian’s military might, denying accusations of hacking in the U.S. elections, and addressing concerns over a new nuclear arms race. At the annual event, just shy of four hours in length this year, ...

President Barack Obama says the U.S. will respond to the Russia’s interference in the 2016 campaign. In an interview with NPR on Friday, Obama said, "I think there is no doubt that when any foreign government tries to impact the integrity of our elections ... we need to take action. ...

When asked by The Cipher Brief about how both allies and adversaries might view President-elect Donald Trump’s early, contentious relationship with the CIA, former Acting Director of the CIA John McLaughlin remarked, “They are already scratching their heads bald about what is going on here, so I don’t think we ...

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 ...

Naiveté is never a good way to approach foreign policy challenges.  However, it seems that every new Presidential Administration has a tendency to place hope over experience in dealing with Russia.  President George W. Bush tried to look into Putin’s soul, President Barack Obama tried a re-set, and it seems ...

As 2016 draws to a close and along with it the presidency of Barack Obama, it is perhaps time to reflect on the relationship with Russia during the eight years of his presidency and consider what might have been different.  It is fair to say relations between the United States ...

Just hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. president-elect Donald Trump spoke for the first time since the election, Russia launched a major offensive across Syria on Tuesday after weeks of relative quiet. With the transition between President Barack Obama and Trump now underway, Russia experts and former intelligence ...

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 potential Trump Presidency provides both opportunities and challenges for Russia and President Vladimir Putin. Putin’s strategic goals are to weaken the U.S., diminish U.S. influence in Europe, solidify hard and soft control over the nations on Russia’s periphery, and eliminate economic sanctions. As a former KGB officer, Putin’s primary ...

The Cipher Brief spoke with Mark Kelton, former Deputy Director of the National Clandestine Service for Counterintelligence at the CIA, about the possible ceasefire deal in Syria. According to Kelton, Russia ended up with the “better of the deal” and Moscow will continue to conduct military operations in Syria until ...

“The important thing to know about an assassination,” Eric Ambler wrote in A Coffin for Dimitrios, “is not who fired the shot, but who paid for the bullet.” I was reminded of that line as I read retired British High Court Judge Robert Owen’s report on the 2006 murder of ...

On November 30, 2015, on the sidelines of the United Nation COP21 Climate Change Summit in Paris, the Presidents of Peru and Russia signed an agreement establishing a strategic partnership. The accompanying joint declaration included expanded cooperation in defense, counternarcotic activities, development, next year’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in ...

Through hybrid warfare and the Gerasimov Doctrine, Russia is increasingly blurring the lines between war and peace, business and crime.  Russia’s involvement in Latin America is starting to follow a similar course. Douglas Farah, President of IBI Consultants, explains why he does not believe Russia’s presence in Latin America is ...

As a native Costa Rican and Professor of political science, Constantino Urcuyo Fournier has a unique perspective into Russia’s increasing involvement in Latin America.  As opposed to China’s growing economic activity in the region, Urcuyo Fournier says Russia is building strategic relationships to irritate the U.S., but he warns the ...

With global attention focused on Russia’s role in the Syria quagmire, the media is barely covering Vladimir Putin's aggressive maneuvers in Ukraine, let alone his foreign policy in America’s own backyard—Latin America. Since Putin came to power, he has attempted to restore Russia’s superpower status around the world, especially in ...

The legacy of the Cold War has left many enduring images in the minds of most Americans, images that are usually associated with Russia and its nuclear arsenal.    But a key threat, from what many believe is the new Cold War, could very well be from Russian hackers. When listing ...

For years, I slept fitfully after a “friend” told me that it wasn’t the noisy mosquitos buzzing in my ears at night that were a problem.  Instead, it was the female mosquitos that made no noise at all but laid eggs in your ears at night.  That image wrecked my ...

Scott Kessler and Eric Rachner are the co-founders of Secure Senses Inc, which provides human intelligence-based cybersecurity services. In an interview with the Cipher Brief, they indicated that “hacking as a service” is on the rise in the Russian hacker community, and that the scale of the problem this represents ...

The Russian government is considered to be one of the most advanced cyber actors globally, with highly sophisticated cyber capabilities on par with the other major cyber powers. Open source information about Russian cyber programs and funding is scarce, but an ultimate goal of the government is to gain information ...

President Vladimir Putin opened his marathon year-ender news conference in December with comments on the state of the Russian economy, and immediately began coughing. Some political observers noted that Mr. Putin tends to cough when he’s uncomfortable about something. If so, he had plenty to be nervous about. His number ...

To say the relationship is frosty would probably be an understatement.  Formal meetings between U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin are few and far between, and when they do happen, both men appear tense and uncomfortable.   Most of their contact comes at the sidelines of international gatherings ...

There are several considerations to keep in mind when assessing the sustainability of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s leadership: his sense of paranoia, his nostalgia for the influence Russia used to hold globally as a superpower, and his desire for “stability” in Russia.  Significantly, the popularity of these aspects of Putin’s ...

The immediate aftermath of the heinous attacks on the French capital by the Islamic State Group has, perhaps, opened the possibility for a rapprochement between the United States and Russia. On the ‘sidelines’ of the G20 summit in Antalya, Turkey, U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin had ...

The Russian government accused Human Rights Center Memorial, the country’s leading human rights organization, of plotting against the regime. The brazen accusation came in mid-November after three and a half years of the Kremlin’s staggering crackdown on critics of the government. Memorial has been a target all along, but this ...

Last month, our Network weighed in on the situation in Syria, making the case for increased American involvement in the conflict. One of our contributors, Rob Dannenberg, a former head of security for Goldman Sachs, explained Putin’s decision to intervene in Syria. This month, we pick up that conversation with ...

In March 2014, when the Obama administration first invoked economic sanctions against Russia, no one knew how long they would last. The White House was betting the pressure of sanctions would change Vladimir Putin’s mind about annexing Crimea and deploying Russian military forces there. A year and a half later, ...

The Cipher Brief spoke with Robert Dannenberg, former Managing Director and Head of the Office of Global Security for Goldman Sachs, about the business climate in Russia. Dannenberg, who also worked at CIA for 24 years, discussed key challenges facing Western firms. TCB: Companies that operate in frontier markets like ...