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 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 militant –leaders on the world stage today. Just ...

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 ...

President Petro Poroshenko now says that Ukraine is ready to consider talks with Russia.  The Ukrainian leader told French broadcaster, France 24, that German Chancellor Angela Merkel has agreed to talks involving the four countries that make up the ‘Normandy Four’: Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany. This, after President Donald ...

  Bottom Line Up Front According to its Office of the Inspector General, a top priority for USAID in 2019 is reforming its projects in Syria. The aid agency is attempting to help care for desperate Syrian civilians while ensuring that none of the resources are rerouted to support terrorist ...

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 ...

  Bottom Line Up Front After months of increasing restrictions, Russia recently blockaded the Sea of Azov at the Kerch Strait, denying Ukrainian ships the ability to enter. Russia fired upon and seized two Ukrainian gunboats and a tugboat as they attempted to sail from Odessa to Mariupol, with an ...

  Bottom Line Up Front As the extent of Russia’s manipulation of Facebook became more apparent following the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, the social media company reluctantly investigated itself and discovered serious shortcomings. In the aftermath of the Saudi-ordered murder of Jamal Khashoggi, there was renewed attention to the use ...

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 ...

As tensions heat up between Russia and the West, cold-war skills are back in play.   Norway and Iceland are hosting more than 50,000 troops from 29 NATO countries involved in an intense training scenario across Northern Europe, dubbed Exercise Trident Juncture, with the first phase wrapping up mid-week. The military ...

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 ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The armed conflict in Ukraine has received scant attention in the Western media lately, however, tensions have recently increased between the U.S. and Russia. The U.S. is bolstering Ukraine’s armed forces with new technology and joint training exercises, actions interpreted by Russia as provocations. Russia ...

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 ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The U.S. has announced it will pull out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, signed in 1987. Washington’s departure from the hallmark treaty was not unexpected; the U.S. has accused Russia of violating the INF agreement since 2014. The decision to leave is quite ...

Twitter is releasing a trove of known accounts and posts that it says were used to meddle in U.S. elections dating back to 2016.  According to the company, the data includes more than 4,600 accounts and more than 10 million tweets, photos, GIFs and broadcasts linked to Russia and Iran.  ...

Bottom Line Up Front As the details continue to emerge, the murder of Jamal Khashoggi appears to be a political assassination, potentially orchestrated by the Saudi government. There are reports, given credence by President Trump, that the royal family will seek to blame ‘rogue elements’ for Khashoggi’s murder, however implausible ...

Bottom Line Up Front Although it receives less attention than the so-called Islamic State or IS franchise groups in places like Libya and Afghanistan, the IS affiliate in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula poses a major threat to regional stability. Despite boasting the Arab world’s largest conventional ground force, the Egyptian military ...

Bill Evanina is the Director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC) - a part of the U.S. Intelligence Community that leads and supports the government’s counterintelligence and security efforts.    The NCSC tackles that mission in a number of ways, but a large part of their task is ...

Bottom Line Up Front Russia continues to attack the data and computer networks of Western countries and organizations. Moscow will target any organization that seeks to report the truth on the Kremlin’s criminal activities, from the downing of flight MH-17 to more banal Russian actions like sports doping. On October ...

U.S. and UK officials are taking a more aggressive approach toward Russian cyber crime by publicly naming and shaming Russian Military Intelligence (GRU) for destructive and undermining criminal actions in cyber space.    The U.S. Department of Justice announced the indictment of seven GRU-related individuals for cyber-crimes that included hacking, ...

The Department of Justice on Thursday announced that a grand jury in the Western District of Pennsylvania has indicted seven individuals from the Russian military intelligence agency (GRU), for cyber-crimes including hacking, wire fraud, identity theft and money laundering.   According to the indictment, beginning in late 2014 and continuing ...