As the world focuses on the Singapore summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the President’s Treasury Secretary announced sanctions against five Russian entities and three individuals for their ties to Russian cyber activities, prompting some to question the Administration’s mixed signals on Russia over ...

  During the Cold War era, there was an adage that arms controllers hated but proved prophetic, “When relations are bad, you don’t want arms control; when relations are good, you don’t need arms control.” Cyberspace today is a mess:  what some US policymakers thought would happen – that the ...

Russia. We hear and read about it every day in the mainstream media, but the news seems almost exclusively focused on the various investigations of Russian meddling and the politics surrounding them. Russian meddling, to be sure, merits this coverage since the cyberattacks and spread of polarizing disinformation represented a ...

Bottom Line:  The risk posed to U.S. national security by what are believed to be Russian-backed hacking groups, is similar to the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis according to Cipher Brief Experts, but different, in that the U.S. has no clear and obvious deterrent this time around. Recent Developments:  The ...

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu is in Washington for talks with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.  On the Agenda are a number of important strategic issues among the NATO allies, including U.S. support of the Syrian Kurdish YPG - a group deemed a terrorist organization by Turkey, as well ...

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 ...

It has now been 18 months since the November 2016 presidential election, during which the U.S. intelligence community believes Russia acted not only to interfere with U.S. elections, but with clear preference for one of the candidates. However, Washington and many of America’s leaders are still not on the same ...

On May 7, Vladimir Putin was inaugurated for his fourth six-year term as President of Russia. He gained more than 76 percent of the vote and—despite concerns over the legitimacy of the vote—does enjoy high levels of support from the Russian population. But is Putin’s grip on power as ironclad ...

As the United States prepares to exit the Iran nuclear deal, or JCPOA, and restore sanctions on the nation, The Cipher Brief revisits the relationship between Iran and Russia, which continue to develop deep ties that run counter to U.S. interests. How will Washington's actions impact how Tehran and Moscow ...

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 ...

Financial sanctions imposed on Russia since its 2014 seizure of Crimea have hit President Vladimir Putin and his cronies where it hurts most—in the wallet. The most recent actions will freeze the U.S.-based assets of certain top Russian officials, arms dealers, and oligarchs in Putin’s orbit, as well as banning ...

We talk a lot these days about smart power and hard power and soft power even the sharp power of manipulating information. In the end, power and influence have always been exercised in multiple dimensions – military, economic, political, ideological. Some states are strong in all dimensions, like the United ...

Bottom Line: The Kremlin employs various often overlapping and competitive security and intelligence services to create multiple sources of intelligence, encourage risk-taking and keep a wary eye on each other. This has enabled Russian President Vladimir Putin to consolidate power by playing agencies off of each other to avoid uninvited ...

During the leadup to the 2016 presidential elections, Russia bots, trolls and media outlets such as RT and Sputnik were actively messaging about the political contest that eventually resulted in the election of President Donald Trump. Cyberattacks on servers used by the two major American political parties were traced by ...

This article has been updated to include comments from Cipher Brief experts. On Monday, the U.S. and UK jointly blamed Moscow for cyber intrusions into the backbone of the internet – the routers and switches that are the gateway for internet access in major corporations and your home office. “Since ...

“The world has been more dangerous, but it has never been more complicated.” These were the words Michael Hayden, former director of both CIA and NSA, used to launch the 2018 Threat Report at The Cipher Brief’s Annual Threat Conference in Sea Island, Ga., on Sunday. Hayden first prefaced the ...

In the book “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy,” John Le Carré’s chief character, retired British intelligence officer George Smiley, is reminded of the danger of old spies staying too long in the game. To avoid that trap, Smiley vows to leave the secret world behind by retiring to the country where ...

Editor's Note: The Cipher Brief reached out to former CIA Director John Brennan for a response to the published op-ed, but he declined to comment. - Russian President Vladimir Putin has directed most of Russia’s military and intelligence resources against Russia’s “Main Enemy,” the United States, since he became prime ...

The West’s coordinated expulsion of more than 150 Russian diplomats in response to the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal is a sign, perhaps, of a reinvigorated transatlantic relationship – a relationship that pro-Kremlin social media accounts have actively sought to undermine. Until recently, however, most of the attention on ...

As Russia was announcing who it would kick out over the mass expulsion of Russian spies over a nerve agent attack in Britain, the U.K.’s National Security Adviser Mark Sedwill was in Washington Thursday, conferring with Americans on next steps to check Moscow’s aggression. “It’s mainly about a coherent approach ...

As the U.S., NATO and other allies move against Russia over an alleged nerve agent attack against a former Russian spy in Britain, bipartisan moves are afoot in Congress to strengthen U.S. ties to NATO. Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Republican Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina ...

The United States has taken a number of steps in recent weeks to push back on Russian aggression, but they won’t deter Russia’s aggressive campaign to expand influence at home and abroad unless they take direct aim at the power and pocketbook of Russian President Vladimir Putin – and the ...

The U.S., EU and other Western allies announced Monday that they would expel a total of more than 100 Russian diplomats they claim are spies, in retaliation for the nerve agent attack on former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Britain. The U.S., UK and many other ...

The Trump administration has accused Russia of a coordinated “multi-stage intrusion campaign” to hack into critical U.S. infrastructure networks and conduct “network reconnaissance” while attempting to delete evidence of their intrusions.  Homeland Security officials say they have helped the affected companies remove the Russian hackers from their compromised networks, but ...

In the latter part of the 18th century, not too long after an earlier annexation of Crimea by Russia, a Russian governor by the name of Grigory Potemkin hoped to impress Russian empress Catherine II by building fake villages along the banks of the Dnieper River. As Catherine’s vessel floated ...

Russia continues to wage hybrid warfare across Europe and the United States, and—for the most part—the West has been slow to respond, leaving some to ask – did the first Cold War ever really end, before this new conflict began? Former CIA and NSA chief Gen. (ret.) Michael Hayden joined ...

President Donald Trump’s unwillingness to publicly make plain that Russia is undertaking a large-scale active measures campaign against our democracy is forcing others in office to fill the void. It is leading lawmakers to press executive branch officials to make explicit statements about military war plans and intelligence community covert ...

President Donald Trump seized upon Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s 37-page indictment with a tweet that the Russians were laughing over their successful information war against the U.S. For President Vladimir Putin, espionage against what he and his Soviet predecessors call their “Main Enemy” is no laughing matter. Relentlessly focused on ...

Bottom Line: Russia’s use of private military contractors in Syria lends the Kremlin deniability that becomes problematic when the U.S. tries to calculate how to retaliate against incursions again U.S. and coalition troops by the Assad regime. The problem reared its head earlier this month when the of U.S. conducted ...

Special Counsel Robert Mueller has released the indictment of 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities for allegedly interfering in the 2016 presidential election. The indictment charges all of the defendants with conspiracy to defraud the United States, three defendants with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, and ...

The U.S. Navy is facing tough challenges on an anemic budget: China and Russia’s growing Naval prowess; threats proliferating from increasingly advanced weapons systems; a force stretched too thin by an ever-expanding mission; and an inability to say “no” when asked to do more. The capabilities of the U.S. Navy ...

The U.S. coalition says in defending its own troops, it killed an estimated 100 pro-Assad regime fighters on Wednesday. This clash, which took place in Khusham near the Euphrates River, is the largest reported to date between U.S.-backed forces and pro-regime forces in Syria. Here’s what happened, according to public ...

Pentagon chief Jim Mattis defended the administration’s 2018 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) as the right response to Russia’s rising nuclear capacity and its failure to abide by international treaties, in comments to the House Armed Services Committee Tuesday. The NPR calls for the creation of two new submarine-launched nuclear weapons: ...

In various and sundry NATO countries, the United States has stationed 200-plus B-61 tactical nuclear bombs, current and older versions of which have dial-a-yield settings that allow various explosive yields, one of which is as low as the equivalent of 300 tons of TNT, or 0.3 kilotons. That was one ...

CIA Director Michael Pompeo told Democrats that there is nothing “untoward” about meeting with Russia’s senior spy chiefs, following reports that he did just that last week. Russian media reported that Pompeo met with Sergey Naryshkin, chief of Russian foreign intelligence who is currently sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department ...

Just ahead of President Donald Trump’s delivery of the State of the Union, the State Department released a list of “influential Russians,” including several politicians and oligarchs, who could face sanctions in the future for their proximity to the Kremlin. The list was later determined to be pulled from Forbes’ ...

Bottom Line: The potential of economic development in the Arctic for a financially strapped Russia has increased the Kremlin’s attention to the security of its northern waters. The result is a push to bolster its military presence in the region. But against a backdrop of increasing geopolitical tensions between Russia ...

Bottom Line: Multiple rounds of peace talks aimed at ending Syria’s seven-year civil war have failed to yield results or relieve a catastrophic humanitarian crisis throughout the country. While the Trump administration throws its support behind a United Nations-led process that aims to deliver a roadmap for peace, Russia has ...

In the version of Aesop’s fable, “The Farmer and the Viper,” as recounted by Roman fabulist Gaius Julius Phaedrus, a farmer finds a viper freezing in the snow. Taking pity, he picks up the snake and puts it inside his coat to warm it up. True to its nature, the ...

President Donald Trump, concerned that investigations of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections cast doubt over his legitimacy, has consistently dismissed and denigrated such probes. The decision by Dianne Feinstein, as the Senate Judiciary Committee’s top Democrat, to unilaterally release the transcript of closed testimony by Fusion GPS co-founder ...

Much has been written about Russia’s interference in the 2016 election – the theft and selective leaking of information, the attempt to tamper with state voting systems, and the weaponization of social media. Every day brings further revelations about Moscow’s still-ongoing information operations in the U.S. Yet little of this ...

Bottom Line: The U.S. and its NATO allies have warned that an uptick in Russian submarine activity near undersea fiber optic cables means Moscow may be plotting to disrupt or intercept sensitive or other critical internet communications in the event of a confrontation with the West. Their warning serves as ...

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 ...

The United States Navy has achieved unmatched supremacy on the world’s seas, but Russia and China are diligently growing their naval capabilities, trying to close the gap. Should U.S. naval enterprises fail to match their rivals’ pace, then Moscow and Beijing’s maritime advancements could challenge U.S. geostrategic interests, including its ...

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 ...

A coordinated operation is underway between the White House and Republican members of Congress to undermine Special Counsel Robert A. Mueller III’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, just as the inquiry begins to zero in on President Trump and his closest advisers. Their joint campaign is ...

Russia’s annexation of Crimea, intervention in eastern Ukraine, and meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election have escalated distrust and rancor between the U.S. and Russia to levels unprecedented since the Cold War. For two decades, President Vladimir Putin has driven a resurgent Russia to assert its interests globally, often ...

New FBI Director Christopher A. Wray is signaling that he takes the possibility of future Russian meddling in U.S. elections seriously, and he plans to run a bureau of  “integrity and professionalism” to tackle such threats –despite President Donald Trump’s continuing effort to slap the label of “FAKE NEWS” on covert ...