Check the most recent RT (Russian TV) news coverage from Syria and you will see Moscow’s latest military hardware on display. Russia’s top of the line attack helicopters—the Ka-52 and MI 28N—remain a fixture on the battlefield even after President Vladimir Putin’s nominal declaration of a Russian pullout. Beneath the ...

The year was 1980, and the 21-year-old son of Norwegian Defense Minister Thorvald Stoltenberg accompanied his dad on a trip to the United States. The talk of the town, according to the son, centered on concern over the U.S. distancing itself from Europe. Decades later, the same fear permeates political ...

Russia is playing a game of Bismarckian realpolitik in the Middle East – political maneuvering based on current conditions, rather than on ideological premises, that uses the exertion of power to gain benefits for one’s country. Russian President Vladimir Putin is forming as many alliances as he can, in order ...

Since 2012, there has been a period of diplomatic activity by the Kremlin in the Middle East which is unprecedented since the fall of the USSR. Existing records of diplomatic and political contacts show an increased exchange of multilevel delegations between Russia and Middle Eastern countries. Moscow is attempting to ...

Syria is Russia’s only real ally in the Middle East. A stable and friendly Syria is in Moscow’s best interests. Stability in Syria is also in the best interests of the United States. Yet Moscow and Washington have different ideas on how to rid the region of chaos. Former U.S. ...

At the fourth and final Nuclear Security Summit, taking place Thursday and Friday in Washington, DC, President Obama will have his last chance to work toward his promised goal - set 7 years ago in Prague - to make the world safer from unsecured nuclear materials. The outcome of the ...

“Real deterrence means real presence,” said Poland President Andrzej Duda this morning at an event in Washington co-hosted by the Atlantic Council and the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA). He was talking about the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the need to have around the clock NATO forces ...

Since Russia’s “pivot to the East” was launched amid great fanfare in 2013, much commentary has been devoted to its significance, its scale, and indeed what if anything has actually happened beyond the official rhetoric. I have been commuting between Russia and China for the last two years for my ...

The foreign ministers of China and Russia met last week amid North Korean aggression and the potential for a U.S. deployed THAAD missile defense system in South Korea. While the threat of a nuclear North Korea is “unacceptable” to both, they are at least equally concerned about the potential for ...

The Western perceptions of China-Russia relations tend to be polarized. In the aftermath of the Ukraine crisis, the pessimists see another Sino-Russia alliance emerging with strategic and political ambitions in Eurasia against the democratic free world.  The optimists are suspicious of any genuine friendship between two assertive powers with too ...

In an interview with The Cipher Brief last month, former Deputy CIA Director Michael Morell said that one of the things he would tell the next president is that “the health of a nation’s economy is the single most important determinant in its ability to protect itself, the single most ...

Russia‘s military engagement in Syria reflects Vladimir Putin’s obsession with reasserting his nation’s influence in the Middle East and establishing superpower parity with the U.S. This policy, however, also has important domestic implications for dealing with instability in the nation’s most troublesome region, the North Caucasus. Russia’s history in the ...

The Paris attacks last year bought home that ISIL intends to terrorise all those who oppose the group, wherever they may be.  Outside the Syria and Iraq environs, ISIL strives for evermore spectacular attacks with ever more shocking outcomes.  The 130 dead in Paris came just after 228 (mainly Russians) ...

The Cipher Brief spoke with Mark Kelton, former Deputy Director of the National Clandestine Service for Counterintelligence at the CIA, about the possible ceasefire deal in Syria. According to Kelton, Russia ended up with the “better of the deal” and Moscow will continue to conduct military operations in Syria until ...

At a time when the world’s attention is focused on terrorist bombings and beheadings, as well as the fighting in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, little notice is being paid to a mini-revival of the superpowers’ nuclear arms race. Five decades ago, that arms race led to Moscow and Washington spending ...

For seven of the last eight years, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has topped Forbes’ list of the world’s most powerful women.  Last year, she was a nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize and TIME Magazine’s “Person of the Year.”  But in the final hours of 2015, sexual attacks on women ...

Following the Euromaidan revolution, Ukraine is engaged in a two-pronged fight that integrates domestic and foreign components. The first battle is Russia’s desire to dismember Ukraine, halt its European integration, and return it to the Russkii Mir (Russian World) sphere of influence. The second battle is to begin to effectively ...

Russia, seemingly at will, ramps up the pressure in Ukraine. And it looks as if another uptick is underway. So far, the West has yet to show it has the resolve to end the Russian aggression. At the annual Munich Security Conference in Germany this weekend, international monitors indicated there ...

Closely supported by Russian air power and artillery, Syrian army attacks against rebel forces near Aleppo, Syria coincide with a significant intensification of fighting in eastern Ukraine, with the largest number of daily attacks by the Russian-separatist forces since August 2015. There have been heavy attacks all across the front ...

The Cipher Brief reached out to General Jack Keane to get his thoughts on the Syrian ceasefire agreement announced on February 12. Keane dismissed the significance of the deal, characterizing it as “total subterfuge.”  The Cipher Brief: What’s your take on the Syrian ceasefire agreement?  General Jack Keane: Unless there ...

From Russia’s reemergence as a top U.S. adversary to Iran’s reentry into the global market place, the 2016 national security landscape is fraught with challenges and opportunities guaranteed to impact industry, government, and their intersection. Looming questions—Will China cooperate on cyber security? What wider impact will Venezuela’s economic collapse have ...

The situation in the Russian North Caucasus has been complex for over 25 years now. A host of economic and social reasons, as well as the relations between this region and the federal authorities, and the mistakes made by both federal and regional politicians, have all contributed to the problem. ...

The Islamic State (ISIS) is the “preeminent global” threat and remains determined to execute direct attacks against the U.S. homeland, the top U.S. intelligence official told Senators at the annual Worldwide Threats hearings on Tuesday. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said ISIS “leaders are determined to strike the U.S. ...

The Caucuses region is simmering with tension, and, due to its strategic geographic location and Caspian energy markets, the international community cannot afford to let the situation boil over. Lying in between Russia, Turkey, and Iran, the Caucasus is a politically and ethnically diverse region.  In the North are the ...

For two decades, hundreds of Russian citizens have become victims of terrorism rooted in the turbulent North Caucasus region of Russia. This area has also been a major source of fighters for different radical Islamic groups in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and beyond.    Several developments contributed to the radicalization of ...

Space may be infinite, but it’s starting to get crowded around Earth. As more nations have gained the ability to send assets into orbit, a new space race has started to emerge. But rather than focus on merely reaching space, the goal now is to leverage dominance in space into ...

One sign of how important space is to military operations, particularly U.S. military operations, is that the countries who are our most likely military opponents, particularly China and Russia, are investing tens of millions of dollars in a range of technologies intended to degrade or destroy satellites and space capabilities.  ...

The United States has enjoyed unchallenged dominance in the space domain for years, but it appears that time has come to an end. China has been increasing its space activities, which will have strategic consequences for the U.S. The Cipher Brief spoke with Bruce MacDonald, a former White House National Security ...

“The important thing to know about an assassination,” Eric Ambler wrote in A Coffin for Dimitrios, “is not who fired the shot, but who paid for the bullet.” I was reminded of that line as I read retired British High Court Judge Robert Owen’s report on the 2006 murder of ...

On November 30, 2015, on the sidelines of the United Nation COP21 Climate Change Summit in Paris, the Presidents of Peru and Russia signed an agreement establishing a strategic partnership. The accompanying joint declaration included expanded cooperation in defense, counternarcotic activities, development, next year’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in ...

Through hybrid warfare and the Gerasimov Doctrine, Russia is increasingly blurring the lines between war and peace, business and crime.  Russia’s involvement in Latin America is starting to follow a similar course. Douglas Farah, President of IBI Consultants, explains why he does not believe Russia’s presence in Latin America is ...

As a native Costa Rican and Professor of political science, Constantino Urcuyo Fournier has a unique perspective into Russia’s increasing involvement in Latin America.  As opposed to China’s growing economic activity in the region, Urcuyo Fournier says Russia is building strategic relationships to irritate the U.S., but he warns the ...

With global attention focused on Russia’s role in the Syria quagmire, the media is barely covering Vladimir Putin's aggressive maneuvers in Ukraine, let alone his foreign policy in America’s own backyard—Latin America. Since Putin came to power, he has attempted to restore Russia’s superpower status around the world, especially in ...

The Russian government is considered to be one of the most advanced cyber actors globally, with highly sophisticated cyber capabilities on par with the other major cyber powers. Open source information about Russian cyber programs and funding is scarce, but an ultimate goal of the government is to gain information ...

The legacy of the Cold War has left many enduring images in the minds of most Americans, images that are usually associated with Russia and its nuclear arsenal.    But a key threat, from what many believe is the new Cold War, could very well be from Russian hackers. When listing ...

For years, I slept fitfully after a “friend” told me that it wasn’t the noisy mosquitos buzzing in my ears at night that were a problem.  Instead, it was the female mosquitos that made no noise at all but laid eggs in your ears at night.  That image wrecked my ...

Scott Kessler and Eric Rachner are the co-founders of Secure Senses Inc, which provides human intelligence-based cybersecurity services. In an interview with the Cipher Brief, they indicated that “hacking as a service” is on the rise in the Russian hacker community, and that the scale of the problem this represents ...

President Vladimir Putin opened his marathon year-ender news conference in December with comments on the state of the Russian economy, and immediately began coughing. Some political observers noted that Mr. Putin tends to cough when he’s uncomfortable about something. If so, he had plenty to be nervous about. His number ...

Less than a month after the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris, leaders from 150 nations have convened in the French capital to discuss ways to reduce the effects of climate change on a global scale. The conference is the largest gathering ever of world leaders. The goal of the historic, ...

One of the critical adverse effects of climate change is the impact it will have on water in terms of both quantity and quality. Marcus King, a former negotiator for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, told The Cipher Brief, competition for water resources is likely to lead to ...

World political leaders have gathered in Paris this week to negotiate a new universal climate change agreement. There is a need for unified commitment from national governments to cut greenhouse emissions to avoid the catastrophic effects of global warming and climate change. According to the Fifth Assessment Report by the ...

In 2014, 19.3 million people were forced to leave their houses and were displaced within their countries due mostly to floods and storms but also to earthquakes and volcano eruptions—almost twice as many as those newly displaced by violent conflicts. Evidence shows that climate change is leading to human mobility ...

There are several considerations to keep in mind when assessing the sustainability of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s leadership: his sense of paranoia, his nostalgia for the influence Russia used to hold globally as a superpower, and his desire for “stability” in Russia.  Significantly, the popularity of these aspects of Putin’s ...

To say the relationship is frosty would probably be an understatement.  Formal meetings between U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin are few and far between, and when they do happen, both men appear tense and uncomfortable.   Most of their contact comes at the sidelines of international gatherings ...

The immediate aftermath of the heinous attacks on the French capital by the Islamic State Group has, perhaps, opened the possibility for a rapprochement between the United States and Russia. On the ‘sidelines’ of the G20 summit in Antalya, Turkey, U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin had ...

The Russian government accused Human Rights Center Memorial, the country’s leading human rights organization, of plotting against the regime. The brazen accusation came in mid-November after three and a half years of the Kremlin’s staggering crackdown on critics of the government. Memorial has been a target all along, but this ...

Last month, our Network weighed in on the situation in Syria, making the case for increased American involvement in the conflict. One of our contributors, Rob Dannenberg, a former head of security for Goldman Sachs, explained Putin’s decision to intervene in Syria. This month, we pick up that conversation with ...

A fifty-year veteran of American intelligence recently told me how once, as a young officer, he had blurted out that a situation he had been reporting on was so bad that it could hardly get any worse.  One of his mentors quietly stared at him and then observed, "It can ...

A fifty-year veteran of American intelligence recently told me how once, as a young officer, he had blurted out that a situation he had been reporting on was so bad that it could hardly get any worse.  One of his mentors quietly stared at him and then observed, "It can ...

There has been no shortage of speculation about the motives behind Russia’s recent military deployment to Syria following the September 28 meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Barack Obama at the United Nations General Assembly session in New York. Most of the commentary, however, has failed to ...