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Category: Russia and Eurasia

June 23, 2021

Don't Base U.S. Forces in Central Asia

In headlines reminiscent of a bygone era, journalists this week reported rapid gains made by the Taliban in Afghanistan’s northern Kunduz province. This follows grim news that at least 24 Afghan commandos were killed in a battle with Taliban fighters in Faryarb Province. Amid the upsurge in violence and concern that the withdrawal of U.S. forces (scheduled for completion by September 11) will precipitate a Taliban takeover, Washington continues searching for a way to maintain its ability to collect information and project power into Afghanistan—perhaps by establishing a residual presence in neighboring Central Asia.

June 7, 2021

Back from the Brink? Prospects for U.S.-Russia Relations

As the current American and Russian leaders, Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin, prepare for their first summit on June 16 in Geneva, prospects are slim for the kind of breakthrough achieved by Reagan and Gorbachev. Tensions remain high due to Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and subsequent invasion of Ukraine; its interference in U.S. elections; its aggressive behavior in cyberspace—including the recent SolarWinds hack, which compromised a range of public and private sector entities across the West—and the sanctions that Washington imposed in response to all those activities. ...

Dec. 18, 2020

A Kinder, Gentler Bear? Why Rumors of Russia’s Post-Soviet Retreat Are Premature

While 2020 has been an annus horribilis pretty much everywhere, it has been particularly challenging across the periphery of the former Soviet Union. In Eastern Europe (Belarus), the South Caucasus (Nagorno-Karabakh), and Central Asia (Kyrgyzstan), 2020 has brought widespread political upheaval and conflict. Amid this wave of instability washing

Nov. 24, 2020

Russia’s Escalating Use of Private Military Companies in Africa

In May 2020, fourteen unmarked Russian Mig-29 and Su-24 combat aircraft appeared in the possession of Russian paramilitaries in Libya. This transfer was unprecedented. While outdated, the aircraft have air-to-air and ground-attack capabilities similar to the United States (U.S.) Air Force F-15 and A-10. Why would Moscow send this equipment to a ragtag group of former military personnel moonlighting in Libya? As the United States military refocuses its attention on strategic competition with great powers, it will need to answer not only this question, but also broader questions related to how and why Russia utilizes its proxy forces.

Oct. 26, 2020

Podcast: Double Crisis Double Feature

Colleen Wood and Jeff Mankoff break down the Kyrgyzstan and Nagorno Karabakh crises.

Oct. 1, 2020

Why Armenia and Azerbaijan Are on the Brink of War

Dr. Jeffrey Mankoff provides insights into the recent clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan and the dynamics that entangle the region.

July 31, 2020

Of Russian Influence in Germany - Russian Roulette Podcast Episode 104

In this episode of Russian Roulette, Heather Conley sits down with Dr. Jeffrey Mankoff and Tabea Wilke to discuss elements of Jeff’s report “With Friends Like These: Assessing Russian Influence in Germany.” This report is the Germany case study of an ambitious year-long CSIS initiative to analyze Russian influence activities in the United Kingdom

July 28, 2020

With Friends Like These: Assessing Russian Influence in Germany

As Europe’s unquestioned heavyweight and a country with deep political, economic, and cultural ties to Russia, Germany has been a frequent target of Russian influence activities. Yet compared to other countries, Germany has proven relatively resilient. In this report, Jeffrey Mankoff examines the nature and tactics of Russian influence operations

Feb. 4, 2020

Qassem Soleimani: Moscow's Syria Decision – Myth and Reality

On January 3, 2020, Iran’s Special Forces leader– IRGC Quds Force – Major General Qassem Soleimani, was killed by an American drone strike outside of the Baghdad International Airport in Iraq. Commentators noted that Soleimani had been the subject of a United Nations (UN) travel ban and an asset freeze by the United Nations Security Council (UNSCR) since 2007.  Soleimani had, however, traveled frequently to Syria, Iraq and Lebanon in the decade since these prohibitions. Notably, Soleimani also reportedly made a covert trip to Moscow in July of 2015 that was conspicuous for its flouting of UN travel restrictions and for the lore associated with it having facilitated what became a precipitous escalation in Russian intervention into the Syrian civil war.

Jan. 31, 2020

Baltics Left of Bang: Nordic Total Defense and Implications for the Baltic Sea Region

Sponsored by the U.S. National Defense University (NDU) and the Swedish National Defense University, this paper is the second in a series of Institute for National Strategic Studies Strategic Forums dedicated to the multinational exploration of the strategic and defense challenges faced by the Baltic states. The December 2017 U.S. National Security Strategy described Russia as “using subversive measures to weaken the credibility of America’s commitment to Europe, undermine transatlantic unity, and weaken European institutions and governments.” The U.S. and European authors of this paper, along with many others, came together in late 2017 to explore possible responses to the security challenges facing the Baltic Sea Region (BSR). This second report highlights early research and gaming insights indicating the importance of total defense and comprehensive security, whole-of-society approaches to deterrence and defense of the Baltic Sea Region from Russian aggression. It also provides recommendations for how the Nordic and Baltic states can leverage aspects of total defense and comprehensive security to generate a credible asymmetric defense and build societal resilience.