Russia has historically used its dominance in the energy sector to influence Central and Eastern European governments. But since the Russia-Ukraine gas dispute in 2009, when Russia cut supplies to all of southeastern Europe, the region has been pouring resources into creating energy independence. In addition, the Paris Agreement on ...

Russia undeniably wields some degree of influence over Central and Eastern Europe due to the high volume of energy exports it sends their way. However, that leverage may be overplayed. The Cipher Brief spoke with Balázs Jarábik, a nonresident scholar in the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Carnegie Endowment ...

Sweden, Finland, and Norway (the only NATO member of the three) are inching closer to the western sphere of defense. Russian incursions over the past few years – from Georgia in 2008 to Ukraine in 2014 – and the need to bolster overall defense in response to an increasingly unstable ...

The Nordic countries – in particular Sweden, Finland, and Norway – are bolstering defense relations with the United States at a time when Russia had taken a more aggressive stance in Europe. In June, Sweden signed a defense agreement with the U.S., and four months later Finland and the U.S. ...

Sweden and Finland are moving closer to the western sphere of defense, while Norway has long held strong defense relations with the U.S. and NATO, as one of NATO’s founding members. The Cipher Brief’s Kaitlin Lavinder spoke with Olga Oliker, Senior Advisor and Director of the Russia and Eurasia Program ...

When asked recently by The Atlantic about President Barack Obama’s foreign policy legacy with China, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger replied: “I’d say B-plus.” As President Obama wraps up his final days in office, presidential watchers are evaluating how well he performed, wonder what his legacy will be, and ...

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 ...

One of the biggest foreign policy challenges that President-elect Donald Trump will face is Syria. Here are how things look on the ground today and some of the scenarios the new American president may have to deal with. Over the past few weeks, Russia has been moving significant naval assets ...

The Putin government of Russia is conducting cyberspace-enabled Information Operations, including political “destabilizing operations” (a form of warfare), against the United States. Moscow is competing worldwide with the United States and rejects the Western, liberal world order as the model for all states. Russia is likely stealing internal documents related ...

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 ...

Almost a week after the election of Donald Trump, his transition team is at work, choosing the leaders who will head the many government agencies and departments in his administration. In the national security arena, several names have been mentioned. Whoever is appointed will face a number of challenges both ...

Following the aggressive Russian and Turkish interventions in Syria, it can be difficult to tell where the various parties in the conflict stand. Between the U.S.- backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the mix of opposition forces trapped in east Aleppo, it can be difficult to tell where the rebellion ...

When it comes to cybersecurity preparations for the 2016 election, it is now officially too late. The success, perceived and actual, of the election on Tuesday will depend on the efforts officials have made thus far, the willingness of adversaries to interfere, and vulnerabilities that make those threats real. A ...

The idyllic American university campus conjures the image of a safe and open academic environment where students spend four or more years learning new ideas and preparing for future careers.  Professors challenge eager students to open their minds to old and new perspectives in science, mathematics, business, and of course, ...

Now that the Obama administration has publicly attributed the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and other political entities to “Russia’s senior-most officials,” the question remains, how will the U.S. respond to Russia’s meddling in the coming elections? After all, as James Lewis, Senior Vice President and Director of the ...

After much hand-wringing, the U.S. publicly admitted that the Russian government is interfering with the Presidential election. This was an open secret for weeks, but pious hopes for the bilateral relationship postponed any confirmation. The Russians calculate that they can manipulate the U.S. and take advantage of its spectacularly messy ...

Most political leaders understand that governments that fail to respond to public provocations by foreign states do so at their own risk. In recent years, the U.S. and some of its allies (such as Australia, Estonia, Germany, Lithuania, and the U.K.) have been subjected to repeated, sophisticated, and costly cyber-attacks, emanating ...

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) came to a surprise agreement at informal talks this September to reduce global oil production by between 200,000 and 750,000 barrels. However, final negotiations will not be held until the official OPEC meeting in November and many wonder if regional rivals, Saudi Arabia ...

Over the next few years, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) plans to demonstrate two air-launched hypersonic weapons (HSW) concepts; the Turbo Boost Glide and the Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapons Concept. These systems, though not weapons themselves, should generate a great deal of information on the operating conditions for weapon-sized air vehicles in hypersonic flight (Mach ...

From Syria, to climate change, North Korea, and the largest global refugee flows in history, the next President will face a uniquely challenging set of national security threats when she or he takes office. The Cipher Brief spoke with former Director of Policy Planning at the State Department and current ...

The White House is looking to take a “proportional” response to Russia’s alleged hacking of U.S. political party organizations and effort to interfere in the election campaign. "We obviously will ensure that a U.S. response is proportional. It is unlikely that our response would be announced in advance. It’s certainly ...

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month and The Cipher Brief is pulling together a Cyber Advisory Task Force made up of public and private sector professionals who are coming together to help create a blueprint that will address critical and emerging cyber threats.  Our goal is to help educate ...

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 ...

President Obama, and therefore the United States, has not faced simple choices when it comes to Syria and certainly none that would satisfy Americans’ traditional demand for instant gratification – or in foreign policy terms, a success. Who is the U.S. to support with money, arms, and perhaps even military ...

As U.S.-Russia tensions escalate, the sharply deteriorating bilateral relationship between the former Cold War foes may be at an inflection point. Experts say that in the wake of a flurry of public statements, accusations, and nixed arms control agreements last week, the United States and Russia have hit another low ...

Heightened concern that some Gulf States and Turkey want to give Syrian rebels in Aleppo more advanced weaponry has Washington warning about the potential for their misuse, as well as experts saying more weapons would prolong the conflict and increase fatalities in the long run. Last week, U.S. officials raised ...

A hypersonic missile launched from mainland China could strike a U.S. carrier group located anywhere in the South China Sea in under 20 minutes. That’s a hypothetical right now, but hypersonics are poised to be the next big thing in defense technology. A hypersonic weapon is any projectile that is ...

In recent years, defense analysts have increasingly turned their attention to the development of hypersonic weapons, a class of systems intended to strike fast, at range, and evade most existing defenses. Generally speaking, a hypersonic weapon is a system in which the kill vehicle (carrying the warhead) travels in excess ...

Whether it’s your phone, your computer, TV, or even a refrigerator, all those connected devices that we depend on in our daily lives have become targets for an ever-growing cadre of cyber criminals.  The Cipher Brief spoke with two Flashpoint officials, Chief Scientist Lance James and Subject Matter Expert Vitali ...

Fighting in Aleppo has intensified with a Russian-backed government offensive to capture the rebel-held sector of Syria’s largest city. The United States and its allies accuse Russia of deliberately targeting civilians. Moscow and Damascus say they only target terrorists. Russia joined the war a year ago, backing up its ally ...

The relationship between military spending and GDP growth in peacetime seems an easy equation. When a country’s economy is healthy and growing, it can splurge on fancy new equipment and a larger standing army. When growth has slumped and government revenues decline, that country should tighten its belt and focus ...

The Russian economy has been in recession for nearly two years now, with GDP growth shrinking by 3.7 percent in 2015. However, as the recession continues and persistent low oil prices cut government revenues to the bone, military spending has remained almost immune to cuts, and the country has undertaken ...

A group of high-level defense officials from Central and Eastern Europe and the United States on Wednesday warned of the threat of Russian aggression, discussing ideas to respond to the Kremlin’s moves in its neighborhood and beyond. At the 8th annual Center for European Policy Analysis Forum in Washington, D.C., ...

With a decline in U.S. global influence since the 2008 financial crisis, China’s emergence as an economic and increasingly political world power, and Russia striving to reassert its might, it's no longer possible to see issues in the black and white tones of the Cold War – grey is a better shade ...

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 funeral for Islam Karimov, Uzbekistan’s president since the country’s independence in 1991, took place over the weekend. With no apparent successor, The Cipher Brief’s Kaitlin Lavinder talked with Richard Weitz about the threat of a power vacuum leading to instability and what that means for U.S. interests in the ...

Iran has deployed a Russian-made air defense system around its underground Fordow nuclear facility, state media reported this week. Given the timing of the announcement, it’s a move that can be seen as a political effort by the regime’s leadership to try to maintain an “atmosphere of alarm” domestically to ...

The Cipher Brief spoke with Justin Harvey, CSO of Fidelis Cybersecurity, about the cyber threats posed by both China and Russia. According to Harvey, although last year’s agreement between U.S. President Barack Obama and China’s President Xi Jinping has resulted in a decrease in China’s cyber espionage, “The fight is ...

As the Syrian civil war progresses with no end in sight, Rob Richer, former Associate Deputy Director for Operations at the CIA and member of the Cipher Brief network, discussed recent developments in Syria. According to Richer, U.S. operations in Syria “will remain focused primarily on ISIS” at least until ...

In the wake of a series of hacks against government and private networks, it is clear that Russia and China are among the most active and proficient nations in regards to cyber operations. One needs to only review the most high-profile breaches to see that many of them are believed ...

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden’s trip to Turkey on Wednesday marked the first time a senior White House official has called on the country’s president following last month’s failed coup.  Biden’s visit to Ankara was the Obama administration’s attempt at mending fences with a key partner in the fight against ...

Russia is back in the U.S. political spotlight in a way it hasn’t been since the Cold War. President Vladimir Putin is increasing Russia’s show of force around the globe – fanning the flames of the Syrian civil war as an ally to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, allegedly hacking the ...

Ukraine and Georgia have made clear their desires to become full members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in order to ensure their security. But it is precisely this aim that guarantees their insecurity. Russian President Vladimir Putin has made his red line very clear to both Ukraine and ...

In 2008, Russia invaded Georgia, after NATO allies at the Bucharest Summit made clear that Georgia and Ukraine should be offered membership in the future. Although Georgia remains outside of the alliance, partially due to worries of some NATO countries about provoking Russia again, Georgia still looks poised to be ...

In 2014, Russia illegally annexed Crimea, six years after the NATO summit in Bucharest – where members signaled that Ukraine and Georgia should be made NATO allies in the future – and immediately following then Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych’s ouster, stemming from public upheaval over Yanukovych’s refusal to sign an ...

In an electoral season with no shortage of drama, the recent resignation of Donald Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, brought even more scrutiny to Russia’s intense interest in the upcoming U.S. presidential election. Manafort’s past lobbying efforts for pro-Russian elements in Ukraine drew unwanted attention to a Trump campaign already ...

There is no question of the intense level of interest in Moscow in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election campaign.  For the first time in modern history, Russia faces the prospect of a U.S. president who does not come from the established political process in the U.S., and if elected, would ...

It is no secret that the Kremlin is not terribly enthused about the idea of a Hillary Clinton presidency. Russia’s alleged involvement in the computer hacks of the Democratic National Committee made that much clear. A quick look around Russian news sites – most of which are owned and controlled ...

Last week, the world learned of the unprecedented revelation that Russia was using Iran’s Hamadan military base to launch strikes into Syria. This week, that operation has already come to an end. Tehran announced Russia had stopped using its base. Moscow said it had completed its operation anyway. But it ...

An anonymous group this week dumped a cache of hacking tools allegedly linked to the National Security Agency (NSA) on the Internet, claiming it has another set of files for release to the highest bidder and raising speculation that Russia is behind yet another high-profile attack. Although questions continue to ...