Russia Studies Program

CNA's work on Russia goes back to studies done on Soviet Naval doctrine in the 1960s. In more recent years, this portfolio has expanded to include work on Russian politics, leadership and decision-making, and the operational way of war. The Russia Studies Program (RSP) includes native speaking Russia analysts with deep knowledge on operational and strategic level issues.

Over the last few years, RSP has supported sponsors in a variety of ways, including studies (both at the unclassified and classified levels), workshops, conferences and games. Examples of RSP’s core competencies on Russia include:

  • Naval Capabilities, Operations, and Strategy
  • Strategic Calculus, Operational Decision-making, and Escalation Dynamics
  • Leadership Dynamics Under Vladimir Putin
  • Combat Operations in Ukraine and Syria
  • Military Reforms and Defense Modernization Programs
  • Information Operations and Cyber Strategy
  • Ballistic Missile Program

Ongoing Work

Our ongoing work provides critical analyses to our nation's leaders:

  • Defining and Responding to Russian Naval Strategy
  • Russia's Maritime Strategy in the Pacific
  • Russian Naval Strategy and Nuclear Weapons
  • Evaluation of Russian Propaganda and U.S. Strategies to Counter its Impact
  • Russian Cyber Decision-Making
  • Putin's Decision-making with Regard to Risk and Escalation


Ken Gause

Ken Gause is the director of the International Affairs Group. He joined CNA in 1996 and is CNA's senior foreign leadership analyst. He has spent the last 20 years developing methodologies for examining leadership dynamics of hard target regimes. He is renowned for his decades-long work building analytical techniques to understand leadership decision-making that range from biographical analysis to sophisticated game design to proprietary analysis from a "virtual network" of researchers around the world.


Dmitry Gorenburg, Ph.D.

Dmitry Gorenburg, Ph.D. has led and participated in projects on security issues in the former Soviet Union, Russian military reform, foreign policy, leadership decision-making, and the state of the Russian Navy. He has also examined military activities and the role of U.S., European and Russian security assistance programs in promoting security and stability in Central Asia. Recent work includes analysis of Russian ambiguous warfare activities in Ukraine.



Michael Connell, Ph.D.

Michael Connell, Ph.D. is a Middle East specialist and the director of CNA's Adversary Analytics Program, which oversees the International Affairs Group's work on Russia, Iran and North Korea. His most recent work focuses on naval strategy in the Persian Gulf, Russia's cyber strategy, Russian strategic decision-making, Iranian military doctrine, recruitment and training in Iran's armed forces and adversary emulation techniques.


Vera Zakem

Vera Zakem specializes in Russia’s influence and information operations, hybrid warfare, adversary strategic decision calculus, and incorporating development and diplomatic solutions to complex threats. She has studied Russia’s strategic and operational calculus and tools to influence Russian Compatriots in the former Soviet Union, particularly in the Baltics, Ukraine, and Central Asia.



Michael Kofman

Michael Kofman is a Research Scientist in the Strategic Studies division of CNA and a Public Policy Scholar at the Kennan Institute. He has participated in numerous projects and written substantively on Russia’s military and foreign policy, most recently on the war in Ukraine. He is a recognized expert on aspects of information warfare, grey zone conflicts, and hybrid warfare.



ADM Mark Ferguson, USN (ret.)

ADM Mark Ferguson joined CNA as a senior fellow following his retirement from naval service in July, 2016. His active duty assignments included service as the Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa, Commander of NATO Joint Command, Naples, Italy, and as the 37th Vice Chief of Naval Operations. He has served in both the Atlantic and Pacific fleets in destroyers, cruisers and aircraft carriers.


Paul Saunders

Paul Saunders is an expert on Russia’s foreign policy, including Russia’s relations with other former Soviet states and Russian efforts to exert influence in its immediate neighborhood. He led perhaps the first U.S. unofficial group to meet with Collective Security Treaty Organization Secretary-General Nikolai Bordyuzha and with Kosachev in his previous post as the head of Rossotrudnichestvo, Russia’s federal agency that works with Russian "compatriots" in former Soviet countries. Additionally, he is the Executive Director of the Center for the National Interest where he directs its U.S.-Russian Relations Program and is a member of its Board of Directors.



Paul Schwartz

Paul Schwartz is an expert on Russian conventional and nuclear weapon systems and defense technologies. He also has substantial expertise on Russia’s defense industry, global arms trade and defense relations with other countries, especially India and China. Recent research includes analysis on Russia’s military modernization programs, nuclear weapons systems, Sino-Russian Defense Cooperation, the Baltic Sea military balance, Russia’s INF Treaty violations, and military operations in Ukraine.



Samuel Bendett

Samuel Bendett's work involves Russian defense and security technology and developments, as well as Russian geopolitical influence in the former Soviet states and abroad. He contributes to the and The National Interest, writing on Russian military technology developments, including unmanned systems, as well as Russian foreign policy and security trends across the former Soviet Union.



Olga Oliker

Olga Oliker is a Principal Advisor to the CNA Russia Program. Recent research has focused on military, political, economic, and social development in countries in transition, particularly in Russia, Ukraine, and the Central Asian and Caucasian successor states to the Soviet Union.



Umida Hashimova

Umida Hashimova is an Associate Research Analyst with over eight years of experience in project management and research/analysis on the Eurasia region. She is a scholar on Central Asia’s current affairs and a frequent contributor to the Jamestown Foundation’s Eurasia Daily.



Danielle Johnson, Ph.D.

Danielle Johnson, Ph.D. is an expert on migration and transnational crime, transitional justice and post-conflict reconstruction in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. She has extensive field experience working on these issues, including her time as an Alfa Fellow at Human Rights Watch in Moscow.

For more information on CNA's Russia work, contact:

Ken E. Gause

Director, International Affairs Group

(703) 824-2451

RSP in the News

April 26, 2017

The Valdai Club interviews CNA analyst Dmitry Gorenburg, Ph.D. in “Key International Security Issues as Seen by Valdai Club Experts”

April 18, 2017

Newsweek quotes CNA analyst Michael Kofman in “Russian Arms Contractor Plans Anti-Drone Smart Shrapnel Weapon”

April 12, 2017

The National Interest quotes CNA analysts Samuel Bendett and Michael Kofman in “Russia’s Tu-160M2 Blackjack Supersonic Bomber: A Cruiser Missile Carrier?”

April 11, 2017

War on the Rocks publishes “No Plan? No Strategy? No Problem! Syria and Why Trump’s Russia Policy Is Off to a Rough Start” by CNA analyst Michael Kofman

April 10, 2017

CNA analyst Michael Kofman posts “U.S Cruise Missile Strikes in Syria – Brief Analysis” to his blog, Russian Military Analysis