February 09, 2022

Sharper: Russia

Analysis from CNAS experts on the most critical challenges for U.S. foreign policy.

By Anna Pederson, Nicholas Lokker and Sissy Martinez

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.

Features

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.

Transatlantic Security

Arms Control and Strategic Stability with Russia

The United States and its NATO partners have successfully managed the challenge of deterrence and reassurance for generations. The risk of conflict, even nuclear conflict, wit...

Indo-Pacific Security

Navigating the Deepening Russia-China Partnership

In virtually every dimension of their relationship, cooperation between Beijing and Moscow has increased....

Transatlantic Security

CNAS Responds: 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 the...

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.

Transatlantic Security

Russia: An Assumptions Check | Day 3: CNAS 2021 National Security Conference

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 h...

Transatlantic Security

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 m...

Commentaries

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."

Transatlantic Security

The Myth of Russian Decline: Why Moscow Will Be a Persistent Power

Rather than viewing Russia as a declining power, U.S. leaders should see it as a persistent one—and have a frank conversation about the country’s true capabilities and vulnera...

Transatlantic Security

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....

In the News

Featuring commentary from Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Richard Fontaine, Jim Townsend, Michael Kofman, and Edward Fishman.

Transatlantic Security

Examining the U.S. Response Options to the Russia-Ukraine Conflict

NATO is increasing its troop presence in Eastern Europe. And the United States announced today that it is putting 8,500 troops on high alert to deploy to the region. Andrea Ke...

Indo-Pacific Security

The Restraint Crowd Facepalms Over Biden’s Ukraine Threats

President Joe Biden’s face-off with Russian leader Vladimir Putin over Ukraine has deeply unsettled progressive lawmakers and other advocates of a restrained U.S. foreign poli...

Transatlantic Security

U.S. Plans For Russia Amid Fears Of Attack

In addition to putting U.S. troops on heightened alert, the White House has outlined its economic plans to deter Russia from invading Ukraine. Jim Townsend joins Jay Strubberg...

Energy, Economics & Security

Putin, Facing Sanction Threats, Has Been Saving for This Day

Vladimir V. Putin’s posture toward the West through the recent Ukraine crisis seems unusually defiant, even for him. But there may be more behind his confidence than military ...

Transatlantic Security

Russian Troops in Final Stages of Readiness Add to Worries for Ukraine

While Russia is not yet capable of mounting a total invasion of Ukraine, portions of its army have reached full combat strength and appear to be in the final stages of readine...

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.

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  • Commentary
    • Foreign Affairs
    • November 18, 2022
    Taking on China and Russia

    Today Washington has chosen, perhaps by default, to compete with—and if necessary, confront—both Russia and China simultaneously and indefinitely....

    By Richard Fontaine

  • Podcast
    • November 16, 2022
    Russia’s Withdrawal from Kherson, with Mike Kofman and Mick Ryan

    Last week, Kiev reached an important milestone when Russian troops withdrew from the city of Kherson. This retreat has both strategic and symbolic significance, given that Khe...

    By Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Michael Kofman & Mick Ryan

  • Commentary
    • November 2, 2022
    Sharper: The Future of Russia Relations

    While the recently released U.S. National Defense Strategy names the People's Republic of China as the greatest pacing threat facing the United States, Russia poses the most i...

    By Anna Pederson

  • Commentary
    • October 19, 2022
    Sharper: The State of AI

    The U.S. government's recent chip export controls are the latest salvo in the U.S.–China rivalry in artificial intelligence. Semiconductors are a key input for AI systems and ...

    By Anna Pederson

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