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 ...

The United States and the oil-rich Gulf Arab states have long been traditional allies. But now the Gulf states – collectively known as the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) – are shifting some focus to the east and firming up ties with Moscow. It started with Syria. “One reason the GCC ...

I’ve covered many political scandals over the past 50 years, including Watergate, Iran-contra, and the Clinton impeachment, but the past few weeks have convinced me this country may be on the verge of one that may top them all. None of them involved a president as unprepared as Donald J. ...

As new questions arise about the Trump Administration’s contacts with Russian officials, one man has been caught in the political maelstrom: Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak. The most recent allegations surround Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who is said to have met with Kislyak last year —in July ...

Cyber operations remain at the forefront of confrontations between the West and Moscow as relations continue to deteriorate. Russia asserted itself in 2007 with “patriotic hackers” launching a volley of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on Estonian systems. Then in 2008, cyber attacks preceded the Russo-Georgian war, and again ...

Understanding the Russian criminal underground is essential when discussing Russian proxies in cyberspace. How do cybercriminal entities interact with each other and what is their relationship with the Russian government? The Cipher Brief spoke with Ed Cabrera, the Chief Cybersecurity Officer at Trend Micro and the former Chief Information Security ...

What if network defenders knew that a cyber operation occurred during Moscow business hours, that it involved a Russian IP address, and that the cyber actors used a Cyrillic keyboard? Would those indicators by themselves be enough for attribution?  Given the Russian cyber environment, the answer is clearly “no.” Those ...

The U.S. this year deployed 330 Marines to Norway. The concept is nothing new; it dates back to the 2005 Oslo-Washington agreement called Marine Corps Prepositioning Program-Norway (MCPP-N). However, Karsten Friis, head of the Research Group on Security and Defence at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, notes it is ...

White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, during three Sunday television interview programs, gave different and sometimes confusing stories about what activities led to President Trump’s firing of his National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, and what still may be going on about that situation. The first thing to note was ...

President Donald Trump’s former National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, resigned this week over his contacts with the Russian Ambassador to the United States and his deception of Vice President Mike Pence and others on the nature of those calls, but the case is clearly not closed, legal experts told The ...

The White House sought to present the resignation of President Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, as a closed chapter tied to his deceiving Vice President Mike Pence on the nature of his discussions with the Russian ambassador to the United States. But as the shake up unfolds, the ...

The resignation of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn came only three weeks into a whirlwind beginning for the Trump Administration. The Cipher Brief’s Leone Lakhani spoke to former Acting Director of the CIA John McLaughlin – who served seven presidents and watched three transitions closely – about how the next ...

The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan wants several thousand more troops from the U.S. and its allies to help break the “stalemate” in the 15 year-old war, which he told members of Congress has lately seen increased Russian involvement to bolster the Taliban and undermine the U.S. and NATO. “In ...

President Donald Trump has never shown much interest in foreign policy issues.  The few consistent themes he has supported are to defeat ISIS, restructure trade deals, and radically improve relations with Vladimir Putin’s Russia.  While it is easy to understand the interest in destroying ISIS, and his thoughts on trade ...

It is not clear whether a group of Russians arrested on charges of treason for helping U.S. intelligence, involve CIA assets, despite a claim to the contrary, two former CIA Russia specialists said Wednesday. The three people arrested were identified by lawyer Ivan Pavlov as Sergei Mikhailov and Dmitry Dokuchayev, ...

Two former CIA officers with decades of experience offered up some advice to President Donald Trump on how to deal with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin during The Cipher Brief’s Georgetown Salon Series event on Thursday. Robert Richer, former Associate Deputy Director for Operations at the CIA, and Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, ...

Even before the release of the unclassified version of the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusions regarding Russian hacking and involvement in the U.S. presidential elections, before President-elect Donald Trump got his classified briefing on the report from the heads of the U.S. Intelligence Community, before all the reactions to the report, ...

Russia, Iran and Turkey on Tuesday pledged to jointly enforce the fragile ceasefire in Syria, wrapping up two days of peace talks in Astana, Kazakhstan. The countries wrote in a statement that they will “seek, through concrete steps and using their influence over the parties, consolidation of the ceasefire” and ...

In 2000, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, then a relative unknown outside of Russia, visited Japan.  Part of his trip included a visit to the Kodokan, the historic Judo school founded by Jigoro Kano. Putin participated in a demonstration, showing off his martial arts skills with a young Japanese student, who ...

As Donald Trump prepares to take office, one of his earliest—and most important— foreign policy decisions will be how to move forward with the United States’ bilateral relationship with Russia. Will he pursue something along the lines of Obama’s reset or take a firmer stance? Given the president-elect’s opaque statements ...

“The great thing about being around Donald Trump is, you never have any confusion about who is driving the bus,” Vice President-elect Mike Pence said Sunday on CBS’ Face the Nation. I question whether President-elect Trump can drive a bus as big as the U.S. Government and wonder if he ...

Donald Trump will take office at the lowest point in Washington’s relations with Moscow since the end of the Cold War.  He has consistently talked about the need to establish a better relationship with Mr. Putin.  Can he do that in a way that serves American interests? The key to ...

In his first news conference since July, President-elect Donald Trump revealed he now agrees with the unanimous verdict of the U.S. intelligence community: Russia was behind the hack on the Democratic National Committee (DNC). "I think it was Russia," he said (though he later caveated “but you know what, it could ...

When the Russian intelligence operation designed to influence our 2016 election is used as a case study to train new Russian intelligence officers, it will be considered the most successful covert action operation in the history of Mother Russia. This operation, known as “Grizzly Steppe,” will be in the annals ...