On the heels of President Donald Trump’s Middle East tour and the terror attack in Manchester outside of an Ariana Grande concert this week, Trump and his fellow European heads of state are gathering in Brussels for a NATO summit. The Cipher Brief’s Kaitlin Lavinder asked former NATO Supreme Allied ...

The U.S. Senate last month overwhelmingly voted for Montenegro’s accession into NATO. President Donald Trump signed off on this, writing in a letter to the Senate, “the inclusion of Montenegro in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) will not have the effect of increasing the overall percentage share of the ...

There are many differences between the Balkans and the Middle East, but they have two things in common. Both regions are former pieces of the Ottoman Empire that have not found stability since that empire receded in the late 19th century. Both also have been objects of serial intrusion by ...

As NATO prepares to add another small Balkan country to its ranks – Montenegro is expected to join on June 5 – the region that has long been torn between the East and the West, and plagued with internal ethnic, socioeconomic, and political tensions is once again showing signs of ...

Former CIA Director John Brennan for the first time publicly said he is concerned about possible ties between Russia and members of the Trump campaign. “I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and U.S. persons involved in the Trump campaign ...

When it comes to Russia, is President Trump following his own guideline, America First, and if not, why? The infamous May 10 Oval Office meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Ambassador Sergei Kislyak provided another example of the odd way Trump avoids being critical of Moscow. I am ...

Scrutiny over President Donald Trump’s relationship with Russia heightened this week as former FBI Director Robert Mueller was selected as special counsel to lead the inquiry into Russian influence on last year’s presidential election. It comes as the FBI and Congress continue their separate investigations into Russia’s meddling in the ...

On the night of March 10, 2004, Deputy Attorney General James Comey and FBI Director Robert Mueller sped to George Washington University Hospital and stopped two of President George W. Bush’s aides from getting the signature of Attorney General John Ashcroft, gravely ill, on a legally dubious National Security Agency ...

The senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee is shrugging off as worthless propaganda Russian President Vladimir Putin’s offer to provide a record of a White House meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and two Russian officials.  In an interview with The Cipher Brief on Wednesday, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) ...

The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee has slammed the Treasury Department for its weak response to that committee’s request for information related to the Trump team’s financial dealings with Russia. Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) made the comments at a Banking Committee confirmation hearing on Tuesday for Sigal Mandelker, ...

President Donald Trump is defending his "absolute right" to share information for "humanitarian reasons" with Russia following a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak last week. In a series of tweets on Tuesday, Trump said he had shared "facts pertaining to ...

President Donald Trump on Friday warned James Comey, the former FBI director he fired this week, against leaking to the media as he once again sought to put the problem of leaks to the forefront instead of the counterintelligence investigation into possible coordination between his campaign and Russia. “James Comey ...

President Trump’s unexpected firing of FBI Director James Comey came at the same time it became apparent that Bureau and Congressional investigators are focusing seriously on Trump family businesses and their financial dependence on Russian money. Trump has constantly tweeted his opposition to investigating any links between his campaign aides ...

President Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey coincides with the ramping up of multiple investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion with Trump campaign associates. On Tuesday, Senate investigators on the Senate Intelligence Committee asked the U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network ...

John Sipher, a former member of the CIA’s senior intelligence service, appeared on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” Wednesday morning to discuss U.S. President Donald Trump’s sudden firing of FBI Director James Comey. “The timing is a bit fishy because there really is nothing new here, right? The information that they are ...

The shrinking ice cap in the Arctic has opened up new opportunities and security challenges for the nations surrounding the region.  Arctic policy debates in Washington usually revolve around three issues: a race for Arctic resources, the need for new icebreakers, and a resurgent and aggressive Russia. In Moscow, policy ...

FBI Director James Comey said he expects his agency will not "say another peep" about the investigation into possible coordination between President Donald Trump's campaign and Russia until it is completed. But during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday, the director did warn that Russia is still actively involved ...

With the proliferation of smart devices connected to the public internet the population of botnets – networks of compromised devices that can be leveraged for large-scale cyber attacks – has exploded. The Cipher Brief spoke with Kevin Reid, Vice President of National Security and Chief Information Officer at KeyLogic and ...

As we approach President Donald Trump’s first 100 days in the White House, it remains difficult to discern U.S. policy toward Russia.  The Administration has yet to articulate a clear policy, and its actions and words send mixed messages regarding American intentions toward Russia and Russian President Vladimir Putin.  There ...

The two separate worlds of electronic warfare and cybersecurity are beginning to overlap, if not collide. In the U.S. military, electronic warfare and cyber capabilities live in different military domains, delivered by operators who exist in different military units and who largely grew up in different career fields. The National ...

Russian cyber operations are widely discussed and reported on today. Conversations frequently range from how the Russian government hacked the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to the utilization of Russian social media trolls for political influence. Often missing from the conversation, however, is how these operations fit into the overall context ...

CIA Director Mike Pompeo called WikiLeaks a “non-state, hostile intelligence service” that is “often abetted by state actors like Russia” in his first public speech since becoming the head of the intelligence agency. Pompeo said Thursday during an address at the the Center for Strategic and International Studies that WikiLeaks ...

Donald Trump entered the presidency committed to improving U.S. ties with Russia, but less than three months into his term, the President says the relationship is at “an all-time low.” Trump’s comments come in the wake of last week's U.S. missile strike on Syria’s Shayrat Air Base in response to ...

The Russian effort to influence the 2016 election will remain front-and-center as the House and Senate Intelligence Committee continue their probe and the FBI moves forward on its investigation. The issue is likely to weigh on the Trump Administration for some time to come. In this regard, the Russian use ...

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is in Moscow for meetings with Russian officials at a time when U.S. rhetoric toward Russia has intensified in the wake of a deadly chemical weapons attack in Syria. The U.S. launched 59 Tomahawk missiles at Syria’s Shayrat Air Base last week in response to ...

U.S. President Donald Trump, in a filmed statement from his Mar-a-lago resort Thursday night – where he is currently meeting President Xi – said the strike was “in [the] vital national security interest of the U.S.,” adding that “years of previous attempts at changing Assad’s behavior have all failed.” The ...

Estonia, both a European Union and NATO member, shares an entire eastern border with Russia but remains firmly embedded in the Western defense alliance. Mariin Ratnik, the head of security policy and transatlantic relations in Estonia’s Foreign Ministry, was recently in Washington for meetings with the Trump administration. The Cipher ...

President Donald Trump on Wednesday said his “attitude” toward Syria and President Bashar al-Assad “has changed very much” in the wake of a deadly chemical weapons attack — but he would not say what action, if any, the United States might take in response. He was referring to a chemical ...

Last year’s White Paper on German Security Policy lays out the country’s future security and defense trajectory. It omits the politically charged element of security and defense in a country with a Nazi past. It lays out a clear path toward increasing defense resources. And it lists Russia as a ...

The metro bombing in St. Petersburg Monday and White House comments that the U.S. will do what it can to help Russia get to the bottom of the incident raise the question of future Russia-U.S. counterterrorism cooperation. The Cipher Brief’s Kaitlin Lavinder spoke with Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, a senior fellow at ...

An explosion in the St. Petersburg metro on Monday tore open a subway car, killing at least 14 people and leaving dozens injured. Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev has called it a terrorist act, and the perpetrator has been identified as Kyrgyzstan native Akbarzhon Dzhalilov. His motive remains unknown. Despite ...

President Donald Trump and his White House team are using some of the same “active measures” to manipulate the American people today that Russian President Vladimir Putin employed trying to influence last year’s presidential election.   “Active measures” was a Soviet Cold War term that referred to Russian security services’ tactics ...

On Sunday, March 26, widespread protests broke out in more than 80 cities in the Russian Federation, apparently in response to the government's inability or unwillingness to deal with the problem of endemic corruption. Estimates of the numbers of protesters vary, with the opposition claiming that more than 30,000 participated ...

Vladimir Putin is portrayed in the West as the master manipulator in foreign policy, creating turmoil in U.S. and European elections and outfoxing his rivals in the Ukraine and Syria. In domestic politics, he is portrayed as a brutal but cunning tyrant, crushing dissent and murdering his harshest critics, yet ...

The Kyrgyz state security service identified Akbarzhon Dzhalilov, a 22-year-old Russian citizen born in Kyrgyzstan, as the assailant behind Monday’s explosion in the St. Petersburg metro. Russian investigators later confirmed the identification and said Dzhalilov planted a second bomb at the Ploshchad Vosstaniya station that did not explode. Authorities said ...

Monday’s explosion in a St. Petersburg metro car, which killed at least 14 people and left dozens injured, was described by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev as an act of terror. However, no group has claimed responsibility for the attack, and Russian President Vladimir Putin himself said it is “too ...

At a time of increasing global uncertainty, the Norwegian government is in the process of upgrading its Armed Forces – across the various services – as outlined in a Ministry of Defense white paper, The Long Term Plan, or LTP, which was released in June 2016. The LTP builds on ...

Two White House officials provided House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes with the information concerning intelligence reports that showed President Donald Trump and campaign associates were picked up incidentally in foreign surveillance, according to a news report. The New York Times reported Thursday that two White House officials — Ezra Cohen-Watnick, ...

With just a few weeks left until French voters head to the polls, far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen made her way to Moscow for a surprise meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.   As Putin stood last Friday beside his open admirer — Le Pen supports lifting Russian sanctions, ...

FBI Director James Comey confirmed on Monday, for the first time, that the agency is conducting an investigation into whether there was any coordination between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election. Comey told the House Intelligence Committee the investigation into possible Trump-Russia connections ...

Vladimir Putin is smiling because he thrives on chaos, particularly in the camp of the “Main Enemy,” a term the Soviet and Russian intelligence services have long used to refer to the United States.  He is surely happy as he sees any indication of American uncertainty, irresolution, or confusion as, ...

European countries are becoming increasingly wary of foreign disinformation and subversion operations in their own internal politics following Russian interference in last year’s U.S. elections. The small Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, however, understand the threat of Russian hybrid warfare – a coordinated mix of conventional military action, ...

Where will Russian President Vladimir Putin strike next? With the 2018 Russian election around the corner, former Soviet states are nervous. Foreign adventures are the quickest way for a politician to get a bump in the polls. What does this mean for cybersecurity? In the internet era, one thing is ...

Russian offensive cyber capabilities are as sophisticated as those of other major cyber powers, such as the United States and China, and they likely exceed Baltic states’ ability to defend critical infrastructures. A successful large-scale cyberattack during peace time, or prior to or in concert with a conventional attack – ...

As the House Intelligence Committee gathers on Monday to hold its first public hearing into Russian interference in the 2016 election, experts say this marks an important opportunity to begin explaining the complexities of the Kremlin’s actions to the American people — as long as it doesn’t devolve into partisan ...

The controversy surrounding alleged Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election shows no sign of waning, dominating the conversation during The Cipher Brief’s Georgetown Salon Series event with former CIA Acting Director Michael Morell on Wednesday night. “I think that the Russian interference in the election is a much bigger ...

Russian tactics to undermine democracies around the world were in the spotlight at a Congressional hearing on Wednesday. “What I’m trying to explain to the American people is the Russian government, in Putin’s hands, has been up to no good in a lot of places for a long time when ...

As part of military reforms begun in 2008, Russia has overhauled its special purpose forces, or Spetsnaz to expand its capabilities and professionalization. It also created a new Special Operations Command known as the KSSO. Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and military support of the Assad regime in Syria ...

When Syrian government forces retook the ancient city of Palmyra from ISIS for the second time in early March, they had the assistance of one of the world’s elite special operations forces: Russia’s Special Operations Command (SSO). In coordination with Russian air power, the combined forces killed or wounded 1,000 ...

Pressure is growing for development of a new, U.S., low-yield, land-based or air-launched, tactical nuclear weapon as a response to Russia’s recent deployment of a nuclear-capable, intermediate-range, land-based cruise missile. The newly deployed Russian cruise missile poses a risk to most American and NATO military facilities in Europe and “violates ...