Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko dropped in to briefly meet President Donald Trump on Tuesday, a low-key visit that comes weeks before the U.S. leader’s expected sit-down with Russian President Vladimir Putin and as fighting flares in eastern Ukraine between Russian-backed separatists and Ukrainian armed forces. Experts told The Cipher Brief ...

Showtime claimed its four-part documentary of Oliver Stone interviews with Vladimir Putin provided “unparalleled access” to the Russian ruler and “intimate insight into his personal and professional lives.” The timing of the show was certainly appealing, considering the intense media focus on Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential election. Unfortunately, ...

Moscow ratcheted up its war of words against the U.S.-led coalition in Syria, after the Pentagon said it downed a Syrian military plane for the first time. That came as Tehran took an unprecedented step of firing ballistic missiles into eastern Syria, against what it called ISIS targets, over the ...

There is no adjective to which I have a greater aversion than “unprecedented.” Such language is most often intended to describe challenges more daunting than anyone has previously faced or circumstances not akin to anything seen in the past.  In truth, there are very few challenges that cannot benefit from ...

Russia’s Defense Ministry released a statement Friday that it is investigating whether it had killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, along with several other senior ISIS officials, in a May 28 airstrike that targeted a senior ISIS leadership meeting in a suburb of the group’s de facto capital of Raqqa, ...

The dueling Republican and Democratic talking points on Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election were on full display during the recent testimony of former CIA Director John Brennan to the House Intelligence Committee. Democratic members and surrogates concentrated their attention on potential abuse of power and obstruction of justice, ...

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday denied any improper contacts with Russian officials as he also testified to senators that he has not received any briefing on Russian active measures during the 2016 election. During a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, Sen. Angus King (I-ME) asked Sessions if he believed ...

Early last month, Russia put forward a “de-escalation” plan for Syria under which major opposition-held territories in western parts of the country, including northwestern Idlib province, northern Homs countryside, the eastern Ghouta suburb of Damascus, and parts of southern Syria, would become safe zones and fall under ceasefires to be ...

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis is in Washington today meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump.  Romania, a member of NATO, is a key strategic partner of the U.S., hosting a U.S. missile defense site.  But the eastern European nation also sits in a precarious location along the Black Sea, where the ...

Former FBI Director James Comey says President Donald Trump fired him last month because he did not like the way Comey was handling the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible coordination by the Trump campaign. “It’s my judgment that I was fired because of the Russia ...

Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), as Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, is his party’s top figure investigating what he considers a critical Russian threat to the United States that has cost Moscow “peanuts.” “We are here,” he said in a statement prepared for Thursday’s hearing with former FBI Director ...

Former FBI Director James Comey is set to testify before Congress on Thursday about his discussions with President Donald Trump related to the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. In his opening statement, released by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Comey details his contacts with Trump — ...

In 1990, as a young assistant U.S. attorney, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) slipped into the national security world when he nailed the first FBI agent ever to be accused of espionage – for Moscow. Now he is the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee – a subject he calls ...

Allegations that involve Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner persist, following U.S. media reports over the weekend. According to the Washington Post and New York Times, Kushner and Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak discussed setting up  backchannel communications between Washington and Moscow, during the transition period in December.. The ...

The White House is again defending itself against allegations made in news reports, this time concerning the Washington Post’s story on Friday that President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner – who currently serves as the President’s senior adviser – met with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak in December to discuss establishing back channel communications ...

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 ...