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 ...

Bottom Line Up Front The United States is alienating its European allies by insisting that they comply with U.S. sanctions against Iran. Iran is attracting international support by remaining, at least for now, in the 2015 multilateral nuclear deal. The European Union (EU) countries are establishing a ‘special purpose vehicle’ ...

Maj. Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin served as chief of Israeli military intelligence from 2006-2010.  He is now director of the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS).  Ari Heistein is special assistant to the Director. OPINION -- That Iran seeks to diffuse advanced weaponry to its proxies in Syria and Lebanon ...

“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 ...

Bottom Line Up Front: On September 17, Syrian air defenses shot down a Russian Ilyushin Il-20 reconnaissance plane over the Mediterranean Sea. The Syrians were targeting four Israeli F-16 fighters that had just struck a Syrian military site in Latakia, but hit the Russian plane by mistake, killing 15. Russia ...

For those who knew him, it is no surprise that the late Senator John McCain approached the national and global security threats posed by Russia with a confident clarity in what he felt needed to be done.  As with all things, when it came to Russia, he did not hold ...

The world’s malicious cyber actors -- Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea – have spoiled cyber’s original, idealistic vision and instead use cyberspace to advance competitive interests to undermine Western laws and norms and pursue a clandestine means (cyber theft) to catch up with the West in technology, political influence, ...

'The Homeland' is part of a dedicated series of Cipher Brief columns focused on examining the full range of threats to U.S. national security. The United States is reawakening to the Russia threat. Indeed, it would be hard to sleep through Vladimir Putin’s brazen tactics. Although American media has shined ...

Ten years ago this month, war erupted between Russia and Georgia after Georgian troops attacked South Ossetia and shelled the town of Tskhinvali, in response to alleged Russian provocations. Russia justified its military action based on countering Georgia's aggression- President Medvedev's called the attack an attempted "genocide" against innocent civilians.  ...

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 ...

U.S. counterintelligence and law enforcement agencies in 2010 scored an impressive victory when they identified, arrested, and expelled ten “illegal” officers of the Russian foreign intelligence agency, the SVR. Posing as ordinary American citizens, these Russian spies were tasked with spotting, assessing, and ultimately recruiting industrialists, scientists, political figures, and ...

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 ...

In the four days since the Trump-Putin summit, we’ve seen a parade of justified emotion as Republicans joined the chorus of critics speaking out against the President’s performance at the Helsinki press conference. But as prominent members of his own party began to find their voice, and the President tried, ...

The Trump Administration is increasing pressure on Iran since withdrawing from the JCPOA in May.  Last month, the U.S. began pressuring other countries to halt imports of  Iranian oil.  The Cipher Brief revisits the complicated relationship between Iran and Russia, on the heels of the Helsinki summit. Bottom Line: Russia ...

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 ...

On the heels of the Helsinki summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, it bears revisiting some of the important, outstanding questions that remain about how President Trump might approach the financial sanctions imposed on Russia since its 2014 seizure of Crimea. Measures such as freezing ...

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 ...

For decades, former secretary of state and White House chief of staff James Baker has touted his version of a salty military catchphrase as a good-government mantra: “Prior preparation prevents poor performance.” That doesn’t necessarily apply to intelligence; even exquisite inputs from the CIA and other spy agencies cannot guarantee that ...

The White House put out a statement this morning as President Donald Trump and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg offered comments to reporters before breakfast, with the President telling reporters that “We have a very good relationship.  Because of me, they’ve raised about $40 billion over the last year.  So ...

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, ...

I remember doing the Time Warp Drinking those moments when The blackness would hit me And the void would be calling Let's do the Time Warp again Let's do the Time Warp again Rocky Horror Picture Show, 1975 Cyberspace is akin to the haunted mansion of a gothic horror movie.  ...

As details are released about the upcoming summit between the U.S. and Russia, Intelligence Officers are expected to ramp up collection efforts in order to prep the field ahead of talks. “Whenever you’ve got a summit coming up, your intelligence community, and your opponent’s kicks into high gear,” says Cipher ...

In part two of The Cipher Brief’s two-part series on how Russia is building its virtual battlefield, we look at the U.S response to the tools and tactics that the Kremlin is employing and ask whether it’s enough.  Response: The U.S. has responded to Russian activity in cyberspace through diplomatic ...

The U.S. - Russia relationship is a complicated one, to say the least.  While investigations into potential collusion carry the headlines in Washington, there is a fragile balancing act going on behind the scenes. Take the gas and energy market as one small example. U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry is due ...

Russia knows how to spread chaos and outrage in American politics, but Russia may pose a far greater threat to the U.S. economy and the infrastructure it depends on. The president’s Council of Economic Advisers estimates that hostile cyber actions against American private industry cost the U.S. economy as much ...