Butch Cassidy graphically demonstrated that there ain’t no rules in a knife fight.  Well, so far, there ain’t no rules in cyberspace or precious few at least.  Establishing those rules and practices may take years, as it did for nuclear weapons or cold war spying.  The U.S. response to the ...

Whether President-elect Donald Trump will keep in place the Obama administration sanctions against Russia for its interference in the U.S. election remains to be seen.   Trump has repeatedly scoffed at the Intelligence Community’s conclusion that Russia hacked into the Democratic National Committee in an effort to help his candidacy, but ...

Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a statement Friday that he will not expel U.S. diplomats in response to U.S. sanctions imposed on Russia yesterday by President Barack Obama, a move Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov had advocated for. Putin called the “recent unfriendly steps” taken by the outgoing Obama ...

On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that a nationwide ceasefire in Syria would begin at midnight on Thursday night. This is the third such agreement this year – all other negotiated ceasefires have failed – but this deal will be enforced by Russia, Turkey, and Iran, the largest international ...

New presidents often think they can redefine relations with Russia. But will Washington ever get along with Moscow if the Kremlin does not share Western internationalist values? In this article from December 7, Cipher Brief experts John Sipher and Steven Hall, both former members of the CIA's Senior Intelligence Service, ...

Editor’s Note: Over the coming days, The Cipher Brief presents some of our most incisive coverage on key issues of 2016 and a look ahead at what is yet to come in 2017. Just before Christmas, Russian President Vladimir Putin strode onstage to field more than four hours of questions ...

After the fall of Aleppo, few would deny the influence that Russian President Vladimir Putin now wields in Syria and the Middle East - but this was not always the case. This February 18 article from the Former Head of Security at Goldman Sachs, Rob Dannenberg, offers a glimpse into ...

Russian President Vladimir Putin, a leader known for his unpredictability, may have met his match: the new President of the United States, Donald Trump. Until now, Mr. Putin knew who he was dealing with. Republicans or Democrats, the U.S. presidents he has encountered supported principles of the Western liberal democratic ...

Hacktivism has been a fact of life even before the rise of Anonymous. In 2016, we saw a tidal wave of global hacktivism and cyber spying, and this trend will continue in 2017. The social unrest around the world is ripe for escalating hacktivism, and it is increasingly fueled by ...

In July, Rob Dannenberg, the former head of security at Goldman Sachs and a 24-year veteran of the CIA, discussed Russia’s cyber strategy of information warfare and the role of proxies in undermining attribution efforts, consequentially stemming victims' political will to respond to provocations. Moving from the disruptive attack on ...

Back in August, The Cipher Brief sat down with Leo Taddeo, Chief Security Officer for Cryptzone, to discuss the cyber threats posed by Russia and China. While China primarily uses its cyber collection capabilities “to compete on an economic level,” Russia places a greater “emphasis on collecting military and diplomatic ...

Russian President Vladimir Putin took to the stage for a marathon end-of-year press conference on Friday, declaring Russian’s military might, denying accusations of hacking in the U.S. elections, and addressing concerns over a new nuclear arms race. At the annual event, just shy of four hours in length this year, ...

After the assassination of Russian Ambassador to Turkey, Andrey Karlov, by an off-duty Turkish police officer, relations between Ankara and Moscow have remained surprisingly resilient. This article written by Soner Cagaptay for The Cipher Brief on July 8 takes a look at the rocky path that has led Turkey to ...

NSA leaker Edward Snowden “has had, and continues to have, contact with Russian intelligence services” since his arrival in Moscow, a declassified report released on Thursday by the House Intelligence Committee alleges. While some of the report, and much of its footnotes, remains heavily redacted, Thursday’s release highlights a number ...

The “complete meltdown of humanity” in Aleppo, as recently described by the United Nations, is an indictment of Russian/Syrian/Iranian barbarism, Arab indifference, and American dereliction and policy failure in the Levant.  The horrendous human tragedy, which is barely causing a yawn in the West—and across the Arab world as well—will ...

One day after Russia's ambassador to Turkey was killed in Ankara, foreign ministers from the two countries met in Moscow to discuss the crisis in Syria — and to vow they will keep their delicate diplomatic relationship on track in the wake of Andrey Karlov's assassination. During Monday's attack at ...

Sometime in the next 30 days, President Barack Obama should add to the economic sanctions now applied to Russia as a response to Moscow’s hacking and other cyber operations that attempted to disrupt and perhaps influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. In the process, he should bring in ...

Police in Turkey have detained six people following the killing of Russian Ambassador Andrey Karlov. State media reports that the attacker’s mother, father, sister and two other relatives had been detained in the west of the country as well as his flat mate in Ankara. Ambassador Karlov was shot dead ...

General David Petraeus, former Director of the CIA, says the U.S. response to Russian hacking of the 2016 election must be calibrated to avoid a hacking war between the two sides. At a conference sponsored by Harvard University’s Belfer Center in Washington on Friday, Petraeus said there will have to ...

As the United States prepares for a new administration, The Cipher Brief's Leone Lakhani sits down with Ambassador Dennis Ross, Counselor at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and a former senior Middle East Adviser to three U.S. Presidents. Ross gave The Cipher Brief his thoughts about the next ...

President Barack Obama says the U.S. will respond to the Russia’s interference in the 2016 campaign. In an interview with NPR on Friday, Obama said, "I think there is no doubt that when any foreign government tries to impact the integrity of our elections ... we need to take action. ...

When asked by The Cipher Brief about how both allies and adversaries might view President-elect Donald Trump’s early, contentious relationship with the CIA, former Acting Director of the CIA John McLaughlin remarked, “They are already scratching their heads bald about what is going on here, so I don’t think we ...

All week, The Cipher Brief has been covering the news that Russia not only interfered in the U.S. presidential election, but according to CIA analysts, apparently did so with the intent of influencing the outcome in support of Donald Trump. The Cipher Brief wanted to know what U.S. allies, with ...

U.S. competitors and adversaries are probably” mystified,” says the Atlantic Council’s Mathew Burrows, by President-elect Donald Trump’s refusal to accept a CIA assessment that Russia is behind the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and his disinterest in daily intelligence community briefings.  The Cipher Brief spoke to Burrows to learn ...

When it comes to attribution—especially when foreign intelligence agencies are involved—plausible deniability is easy. However, the public has come to expect courtroom-quality evidence before believing attribution for cyber operations—a difficult task when the kind of cross-border cooperation you need to get to the bottom of the case is not likely ...

In the recent past, every new U.S. administration has attempted to improve relations with Russia to address mutual security threats such as combating terrorism. Both President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama sought to repair damaged relations with Russia early in their administrations, but, unfortunately, their hopes were eventually ...

A Congressional inquiry next year into Russian involvement in the U.S. presidential election will be only one of several Legislative Branch initiatives that may interrupt President-elect Donald Trump’s stated goal of easing relations with Moscow. The current, Republican-controlled Congress, with Democratic support, has quietly added a package of anti-Russian items to ...

As part of our special coverage of Foreign Influence, Domestic Division: Russia, the 2016 Election, and Trump’s Rebuke of the U.S. Intelligence Community, The Cipher Brief’s Executive Editor Fionnuala Sweeney speaks to Rob Richer, former CIA Associate Deputy Director for Operations and formerly chief of Russian Operations. She asked him ...

The Washington Post report on a secret CIA assessment concluding that Russia intervened in the U.S. Presidential election with the intention of helping President-elect Donald Trump win is only part of a deeply concerning and incredibly significant risk to national security.  It would be bad enough if the Russians were ...

As the United States and the international community absorbed the news that the CIA believed Russia had interfered in the recent Presidential election to help Donald Trump’s candidacy, President-elect Trump dismissed the assessment out of hand, describing it as a result of partisan politics. As part of The Cipher Brief’s ...

Naiveté is never a good way to approach foreign policy challenges.  However, it seems that every new Presidential Administration has a tendency to place hope over experience in dealing with Russia.  President George W. Bush tried to look into Putin’s soul, President Barack Obama tried a re-set, and it seems ...

Russia can influence politics in Central and Eastern Europe via the energy sector. Most of the Visegrad Group countries in Central Europe, for example, are dependent on Russia for natural gas. Some of those countries – like Hungary – recently attempted to diversify supply, only to pivot back toward Russia ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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, ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...