With the deployment of 2,000 U.S. troops to Europe and continued intervention from global leaders, what economic and hard power options remain to prevent a full Russian invasion of Ukraine? CNAS experts are sharpening the conversation around the diplomatic and military options available to the Biden administration, and its allies and partners. Continue reading this edition of Sharper to explore their ideas and recommendations.
Arms Control and Strategic Stability with Russia
The United States and Russia have completed two rounds of strategic stability talks and have agreed to a basic plan of work on arms control and related issues. A new policy brief from the Center for a New American Security’s Transatlantic Forum on Russia identifies European allies and partners’ views, interests, and concerns about America’s emerging dialogue with Russia on arms control and strategic stability. The brief was authored by Jon Wolfsthal and Andrea Kendall-Taylor and informed by a series of dialogues with leading experts from both sides of the Atlantic.
Navigating the Deepening Russia-China Partnership
Increased cooperation between Russia and China threatens to erode U.S. military advantages, strain an already stressed U.S. defense budget, and undermine America’s ability to uphold its commitment to maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific. Moscow and Beijing’s growing alignment also poses serious risks for liberal democracies as Russia and China popularize authoritarian governance, water down human rights norms, and export their illiberal models of technology use. In a CNAS report, experts Andrea Kendall-Taylor and David Shullman provide an in-depth examination of the deepening ties between Moscow and Beijing, the United States’ two most consequential adversaries.
U.S. Sanctions on Russia
With Russian troops amassing on Ukraine's borders, the United States and its allies are stepping up the pressure to deter an invasion, with sanctions playing a key role in their strategy. There are myriad ways for sanctions to be used and the Biden administration must weigh the potential impact, risks, and consequences of each path. Center for a New American Security experts weigh in on the range of options and possible outcomes for U.S. sanctions policy toward Russia.
Events and Podcasts
Russia: An Assumptions Check
As part of the CNAS 2021 National Security Conference, CNAS experts hosted an interactive virtual session to check key assumptions about Russia, the challenges it poses, and how the United States can respond. How should U.S. policymakers think about the Russia challenge, especially in the face of other national security priorities? From the SolarWinds cyber breach to Moscow’s massive military buildup on Ukraine’s border, Russia’s enduring threat to U.S. security interests is clear. CNAS Senior Fellow and Director of the Transatlantic Security Program Andrea Kendall-Taylor moderated a conversation featuring Eddie Fishman, Michael Kofman, and Margarita Konaev.
Flash Release: Angela Stent and Michael Kofman React to Developing Russian Escalation
Leaders in both the United States and Europe are scrambling to figure out how to deter Russia from invading Ukraine and how to respond if Moscow does in fact go through with military aggression. In continuation of our series of rapid reactions to this constantly developing crisis, Michael Kofman, Adjunct Senior Fellow for the Transatlantic Security Program at the Center for a New American Security, as well as Research Program Director in the Russia Studies Program at CNA, and Angela Stent, Senior Adviser to the Center for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies at Georgetown University, join Andrea Kendall-Taylor and Jim Townsend to discuss how events are likely to unfold in the coming weeks.
The Myth of Russian Decline: Why Moscow Will Be a Persistent Power
"The problem is that the case for Russian decline is overstated," write Andrea Kendall-Taylor and Michael Kofman in Foreign Affairs. "Much of the evidence for it, such as Russia’s shrinking population and its resource-dependent economy, is not as consequential for the Kremlin as many in Washington assume. Nor should the United States expect that Russia will automatically abandon its course of confrontation once President Vladimir Putin leaves office. Putin’s foreign policy enjoys widespread support among the country’s ruling elite, and his legacy will include a thicket of unresolved disputes, chief among them that over the annexation of Crimea. Any disagreements with the United States are here to stay."
What It Will Take to Deter Russia
"Economic sanctions alone, no matter how personally painful they may be to Putin and his cronies, will not be enough to prevent the Kremlin from using tactics that have proved effective in the past," argues Jim Townsend in Foreign Affairs. "In the years since Russia’s last major confrontation with the United States and its allies, Putin has been honing his skills at intimidation, using military mobilizations, disinformation campaigns, and conflict below the threshold of war to terrify his neighbors and keep the West perpetually on edge. When it comes to sanctions, Putin’s pain threshold is very high and his political resilience appears bulletproof. He is increasingly confident that he will outlast his Western adversaries—and, indeed, none of the foreign heads of state who pushed to sanction Putin after his Crimean adventure remain in office."
In the News
Featuring commentary from Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Richard Fontaine, Jim Townsend, Michael Kofman, and Edward Fishman.
About the Sharper Series
The CNAS Sharper series features curated analysis and commentary from CNAS experts on the most critical challenges in U.S. foreign policy. From the future of America's relationship with China to the state of U.S. sanctions policy and more, each collection draws on the reports, interviews, and other commentaries produced by experts across the Center to explore how America can strengthen its competitive edge.
Sign up to receive the latest analysis from the CNAS expert community on the most important issues facing America's national security.
More from CNAS
Discussing Two Years of War in Ukraine with Marie Yovanovitch and William Taylor
February 24 marks the second anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Heading into the third year of war, Ukraine faces a challenging outlook. No longer are U.S...
By Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Jim Townsend, Marie Yovanovitch & William Taylor
Navalny's Legacy: Envisioning a Post-Imperial Russia Amidst Ukrainian Crisis
For the West, there is no long-term alternative to aiming for a post-imperial Russia—no matter how long it might take or how difficult it may be to achieve...
By Nicholas Lokker
For Heaven’s Sake: Why Would Russia Want To Nuke Space?
Legally and morally, the U.S. and its allies should call out any such illegal and dangerous effort for what it is – madness....
By Jon B. Wolfsthal
Worrywurst at the Munich Security Conference
On one matter, everyone — Europeans, Ukrainians, Americans, and delegates from other regions — concurred: What America does, or fails to do, will be vital....
By Richard Fontaine