U.S. Strategies to Counter Russia: A Commentary Series

Nearly five years after the United States and the European Union implemented a wide-ranging set of sanctions in response to Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea, Russia continues to occupy territory in Ukraine, interfere in the elections of the United States and its allies, use chemical weapons in allied countries, and violate human rights. As a result, U.S. policymakers face increasing questions about the effectiveness of sanctions, whether EU partners are willing to pursue additional sanctions in coordination with the United States, and what threats sanctions can and cannot address successfully. All of these Russian actions have increased the pressure on U.S. leaders to find new and more aggressive measures to respond. As the new U.S. Congress crafts its approach to Russia, it has an array of decisions to make about how to counter threats from Moscow in U.S. law and in oversight of the executive branch.

CNAS has assembled expert commentaries to consider different viewpoints and key issues facing U.S. policymakers responsible for policy toward Russia. Each piece aims to provide context and suggestions for policymakers as they develop new sanctions and diplomatic efforts, engage allies and partners about shared threats, and develop a more coordinated U.S. strategy to push back effectively against Russia.

These commentaries cover a range of topics, including Russia's economic performance and prospects, its ties to China, its vulnerability to popular sentiment, and U.S. and EU potential for collaboration or divergence on Russia policy. All of these issues will play a major role in assessing how Russia will respond to U.S. policy and what strategies are likely to be effective in countering threats from Russia.

This series will be released over several days, with the first two published on January 18, 2019.

Commentaries in this series

January 18: Embedding Sanctions in U.S. Russia Strategy

Energy, Economics, & Security

Russia Sanctions in 2019: Clarifying a Strategy

By Edward Fishman: During the first two years of the Donald J. Trump administration, the central theme of U.S. sanctions policy toward Russia was preservation. President Trum...

Energy, Economics, & Security

The Goals of Sanctioning Russia

By Peter Harrell: Ever since Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014, U.S. sanctions have been designed to change Russia’s behavior. Sanctions on lending to large Russian banks and ene...

January 22: Prospects for Transatlantic Cooperation on Russia Policy

Energy, Economics, & Security

The United States and Europe May Return to Common Sanctions Policies on Russia

By John Hughes: In the past two years, the United States and European Union have diverged from their unified approach to Russia sanctions, exemplified by the close coordinati...

Energy, Economics, & Security

U.S. Policy Toward Russia and a Deepening Transatlantic Divide

By Elizabeth Rosenberg: The new U.S. Congress is considering whether to impose fresh sanctions on Russia for its intrusions into U.S. democratic processes, its attacks on sov...

Transatlantic Security

Europe and the United States: A Diverging Approach Toward Russia?

By Rachel Rizzo: Over the course of the past two years, the U.S.-European relationship has gone from bad to worse. President Trump has repeatedly derided NATO allies, called ...

January 23: Russian Domestic Politics and Greater Russia-China Cooperation

Energy, Economics, & Security

What Pressuring Russian Oligarchs Accomplishes

By Neil Bhatiya: As Congress and the administration consider measures to push back on Russian malign activity in 2019, they need to understand what little influence oligarchs...

Energy, Economics, & Security

China-Russia Cooperation Presents a Fresh Threat to the United States

By Ashley Feng: In early November, at the longstanding annual meeting of the Russian and Chinese foreign ministers, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said in order to co...

Transatlantic Security

U.S. Russia Policy: Moving Beyond Sanctions

By Andrea Kendall-Taylor: As long as he is in power, Russian President Vladimir Putin is unlikely to substantively change his strategic calculus, despite Western economic pre...

January 24: Russia’s Macroeconomic Vulnerabilities

Energy, Economics, & Security

Considering Sanctions on Russian Sovereign Debt

As the new Congress begins, legislators will have to decide whether to place sanctions on new issuance of Russian sovereign debt. Last year, the Senate considered sanctioning ...

Energy, Economics, & Security

Russia’s Resiliency Toolkit

By Rachel Ziemba: Russian authorities have loudly proclaimed their preparedness to face new sanctions, maintaining a defensive economic policy stance. If Russians are committ...