Bottom Line Up Front Given Russia's relentless disinformation campaigns, several European countries have accelerated efforts to prepare their populations for this threat. While successful examples of promoting resilience to disinformation are rare, Finland, Sweden, and Denmark have made strides to help inoculate their populations. Given Russian meddling in the ...

When the President said this week that U.S. intelligence agencies have ‘run amok’, he was offering the statement in part to explain why he was nominating John Ratcliffe as the next Director of National Intelligence.  The President told reporters “I think we need somebody like that in there.  We need ...

  Bottom Line Up Front:  The success of Russia’s meddling in 2016 U.S. election ensures that Moscow will employ similar disinformation efforts as 2020 approaches. Indicating the severity of the threat, DNI Dan Coats recently announced the creation of the federal government's first 'election threats executive.' Both governments and private ...

  Bottom Line Up Front As it becomes more evident that Venezuelan strongman Nicolas Maduro will remain in power, the Trump administration seems to have cooled on the idea of regime change in Venezuela. Given Russia’s intervention to bolster Maduro, and increasing tensions with Iran in the Persian Gulf occupying ...

Bottom Line Up Front Last week, President Trump announced that the U.S. would be deploying an additional 1,000 troops to Poland. The deployment is reflective of the changing nature of U.S. alliances in Europe, with non-traditional allies growing much closer to the U.S. over the past two decades. The current ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Although they are on the same side in the conflict in Syria, Russia and Iran each maintain their own priorities beyond propping up the Assad regime. Russia and Iran have expended massive resources to carve out their own long-term spheres of influence in Syria and ...

President Trump took to Twitter this week, tweeting, "Hearing word that Russia, Syria and, to a lesser extent, Iran, are bombing the hell out of Idlib Province in Syria, and indiscriminately killing many innocent civilians. The World is watching this butchery. What is the purpose, what will it get you? ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Last week, members of the Afghan Taliban along with Afghan politicians and power brokers met in Moscow to discuss the contours of a potential peace deal for the war-ravaged country. Representing the Taliban was one of the group’s original co-founders, Abdul Ghani Baradar, who offered ...

  Bottom Line Up Front: On May 19, 2019, a prison riot in Vakhdat, Tajikistan, left 29 people dead, including supporters of the so-called Islamic State. Allegedly orchestrated by militants, government information about the riot is limited and leaves many questions unanswered. Tajikistan has seen an uptick in jihadist-inspired violence ...

Bottom Line Up Front The Syrian government and its Russian and Iranian allies are making moves to retake Idlib from the last remaining pocket of rebel fighters holed up in the province. A combination of Russian airpower and Syrian Army ground forces have moved aggressively to retake sections of southwestern ...

WEEKEND EXTRA -- What did U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo really get out of last week’s talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian President Vladimir Putin? Unlike some other Cipher Brief Experts, Steven Hall,  former member of the CIA’s Senior Intelligence Service,  makes the case for why the ...

  Bottom Line Up Front After the well-documented Russian disinformation and influence campaign in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, some elements of the U.S. government and defense establishment are taking significant steps to prevent a similar event in 2020. After successfully thwarting online influence operations prior to the 2018 U.S. ...

Tuesday’s meeting between U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov covered a wide range of issues, including arms control, the situation in Venezuela, Iran, North Korea, Syria, to name a few.  The Cipher Brief reached out to expert, Robert Dannenberg, a 24-year veteran of the ...

Tuesday’s meeting between U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Sochi, Russia, was the result of a recent phone call between U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.  According to Lavrov, both heads of state directed to their subordinates to intensify the ...

OPINION -- There was a flurry of arms control talk after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the Trump administration is “at the very beginning of conversations about renewing” the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START).  He made the comments during testimony April 10, before the Senate ...

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov this week in Russia. The talks are expected to focus on the situation in Venezuela as opposition leaders Juan Guaido continues efforts to oust Nicolas Maduro.  State Department officials said ...

Recent Russian activities around the world are signaling a resurgent Russia, one that wants to shake up a world order that has existed for seven decades, according to Cipher Brief expert and Former Vice Chief of Staff, U.S. Army, General Jack Keane (Ret.).    General Keane was one of three ...

There are multiple international dynamics at play in Venezuela this week, particularly between the U.S., which is supporting the uprising of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, and Russia, a supporter of the government of Nicolas Maduro.  Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a strong and unusually public allegation this week ...

Thursday’s expected summit between DPRK Chairman Kim Jong Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Vladivostok, Russia follows on the heels of President Donald Trump’s second summit with the North Korean leader in Vietnam that ended without an agreement between the two leaders on denuclearization. Kim may have achieved a ...

OPINION -- At almost every crucial moment in the Mueller report, President Donald J. Trump is recorded having expressed concerns to advisors that reports of Russia’s election interference might lead the public to question the legitimacy of his election. The legitimacy of Trump’s election should be questioned and investigated. “The ...

The Cipher Brief's 'Academic Incubator' column features analysis and observations by current and recent students associated with national security-focused academic programs.  Earlier this month, the commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA), Khalifa Haftar, ordered his troops to march on the capitol Tripoli, which is held by the UN-backed Government ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Turkey’s ruling AKP party is asking for a full recount in the mayoral election in Istanbul, making accusations of ‘wide-spread crimes.’ Defeats for the AKP in the nation-wide elections demonstrate that despite Erdogan’s attempt to consolidate power, there remains a very credible political opposition across ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Vladimir Putin has consolidated Russian power in Moscow’s near abroad and traditional sphere of influence. The Kremlin has also made moves to increase the country’s influence in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia. More recently, Russia has expanded its reach to Latin America ...

  Bottom Line Up Front: On 19 March in a surprise move, Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev resigned during a public television announcement. Nazarbayev’s resignation is strategic and designed to ensure a stable future for his country by promoting a smooth political transition. Russia and China each have a vested interest ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Time favors strongman regimes, as leaders alternate between stalling tactics, physical violence and belated promises of reform to attenuate protesters’ momentum. Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced that he would not run for a fifth term, instead postponing elections originally scheduled for next month. Widespread protests ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Even though President Trump decided to keep a residual force of U.S. troops in Syria, it will not be enough to counter Russia and Iran. The U.S. will keep as few as several hundred troops in Syria, mostly around al-Tanf, focused on intelligence, surveillance, and ...

The debate on cyber conflict has gotten so locked into deterrence, escalation, coercion, and signaling we pundits often forget that conflict is sometimes straightforward and you just have to stop adversaries from punching you. This ought to be the main lesson from Ellen Nakashima’s article that U.S. Cyber Command disrupted ...

  Bottom Line Upfront Earlier this month, fourteen armed groups from Central African Republic agreed to a peace agreement following talks in Khartoum, Sudan. The Central African Republic has been devastated by instability and widespread ethnic conflict since 2013 following a coup that same year. Government control does not extend ...

BOOK REVIEW: Putin's World: Russia Against the West and With the Rest By Angela Stent Reviewed by Cipher Brief expert, Michael Sulick Vladimir Putin, enormously popular in Russia yet reviled in the West, avidly courting, and courted, by other nations, has become one of the most studied – and most ...

Bottom Line: In the digital age, determining the origins of cyberattacks is already difficult, but cyber actors can further muddy attribution by diverting blame for attacks to others. The intention is not necessarily to trick intelligence services – who are able to access information beyond technical forensics of the hack ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On January 28, intelligence officials warned of a Sino-Russian entente, with China and Russia more closely aligned than at any point in decades. A strengthened Moscow-Beijing axis poses serious security challenges to the West in general and to the United States in particular. The Sino-Russian ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Just last week, the United States pulled out of the landmark 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, citing years of Russian violations. On February 02, Russia announced that it, too, would suspend adherence to the treaty, sparking fears of a renewed arms race reminiscent of the ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On January 31, Greece announced it would vote on the proposed NATO accession plan put forward by the newly anointed country of North Macedonia. On January 25, Greece’s parliament approved the change from Macedonia to the Republic of North Macedonia, ending a nearly three-decade long ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On January 26, a Venezuelan military attache defected to the U.S. and along with other military officers, recognized Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s president. Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has kept favor with the military following tensions over his election, although this has recently begun to change. ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On January 17, Russian President Vladimir Putin received a warm welcome during an official state visit to Serbia. Serbia is seeking to join the EU, but its conflict with Kosovo is blocking its membership. Russia strongly supports Serbia and its Putin-esque leader, President Aleksandar Vucic. ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On January 13th, the Turkish military sent reinforcements to the border region with Syria. The move comes as the terrorist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) has consolidated control over sections of Idlib Province. The HTS defeat of Turkish-backed rebels threatens the cease-fire brokered by Moscow ...

French philosopher Voltaire claimed that "if God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.” The Kremlin, whenever it wishes to free a convicted Russian spy, twists this concept a bit: “If there's no espionage case, it's necessary to invent one”.  The recent arrest of U.S. citizen Paul ...

Russia’s willingness to detain a U.S. citizen in apparent retaliation for the recent case against Russian citizen Marina Butina should serve as a warning to U.S. citizens who are traveling - without the benefit of diplomatic immunity -  of the risks in traveling to countries where the rule of law ...

  Bottom Line Up Front As 2019 begins, the U.S. and its allies will continue to deal with crises that started years ago and have now matured into critical threats. The U.S. faces numerous crises that warrant a multilateral response in a time when Washington is increasingly responding unilaterally. Among ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On December 14, Kosovo’s parliament voted to form an official standing army, prompting a volley of angry rhetoric from Serbia and Russia. The decision to transition the existing 3,000 personnel of the Kosovo Security Force (KSF) is backed by the U.S, and some segments of ...

Russian President Vladimir Putin is publicly welcoming President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria.  In a press conference on Thursday, Putin said that “The fact that the U.S. has decided to withdraw troops is right,” adding “we have dealt serious blows against ISIS in Syria.” Putin’s comments ...

The 19 December announcement by President Trump to withdraw ground troops from Syria was surprising to everyone but should have come as a shock to no one. Here's why: First, ISIS may not be destroyed, but one is hard pressed to suggest that it remains an existential threat to the ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On December 19, 2018, President Trump unexpectedly announced a full withdrawal of all U.S. troops in Syria within the next 30 days. This pronouncement is at odds with the administration’s current strategy, as well as counsel of top military leadership. The Defense Department has strongly ...

2018 was a year dominated by a new range of worries for national security experts in Britain.  Brexit and a series of untraditional statements from U.S. President Donald Trump, kept things interesting, to say the least.  This, in addition to the traditional security issues that keep the British up at ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Russia continues to use social media disinformation to sow doubt, effectively deploying an army of trolls across the Internet. On almost every issue—race, religion, government—Russian social media campaigns aim to create division in western societies. With false scare tactics, these campaigns have made Brexit a ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Uzbekistan’s renewed domestic and foreign policies have largely been welcomed by the international community. The geopolitical landscape of Central Asia presents a challenge to Tashkent’s ambitions of increased cooperation among the states in the region. Russia seeks to re-integrate the states of the former Soviet ...

Bottom Line: The U.S. and its NATO allies have warned that 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 a plea to ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Qatar’s withdrawal from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is strongly correlated to Doha’s ongoing rift with the cartel’s dominant member, Saudi Arabia. The withdrawal is intended, in part, to bolster Qatar’s standing with the Trump administration, while allowing it to ‘focus efforts’ on ...

The U.S. Navy sailed the USS McCampbell close to contested waters in the Sea of Japan on Wednesday, according to CNN.   A U.S. Pacific Fleet Spokesperson, told the television network that Moscow lays claim to areas that ‘far exceed’ the 12 miles outside their internationally-guaranteed coastline, saying “The USS McCampbell ...

Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko says he is ready for four-country talks with Russia over the crisis in the Black Sea.  Poroshenko declared martial law last month after Russian ships seized Ukrainian vessels and took Ukrainian sailors into custody, claiming they had illegally entered Russian waters.  The United Nations held an ...