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

Recent Papers

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

Experts

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.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

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.

Publications

 

Jeffrey Edmonds

Jeffrey Edmonds is an expert on Russia and Eurasia. His research focuses on the Russian military, foreign policy, Russian threat perceptions, and Russian information and cyber operations. Most recently, Edmonds served as the Director for Russia on the National Security Council and acting Senior Director for Russia during the 2017 presidential transition. While on the NSC, Edmonds advised the president and his senior staff on Russia-related national security topics including the Ukraine and Syria crises, Russian military, foreign policy, threat perceptions, and information operations.

Publications

 

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.

Publications

 

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.

Publications

 

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 RealClearWorld.com 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.

Publications

 

Kasey Stricklin, J.D.

Kasey Stricklin is a research analyst with CNA's International Affairs Group, where she is a member of the Russia Studies Program. Her current research focuses on Russian naval leadership, personnel and demographics, and she has also conducted research at CNA on Russian nuclear strategy and thinking.

Publications

 

Katherine Baughman

Katherine Baughman is a research assistant with the Russia Studies Program. Her recent research focuses on Russian information warfare, specializing in Russian, Central European, and East European foreign and domestic policy.

Prior to joining CNA, Baughman worked for the Center on Global Interests and interned with CSIS and the Navanti Group, where she worked on research teams focused on Russia, Eurasia, and East and Central Europe. She has published several pieces on nuclear policy, energy dynamics, and political developments in the region.

 

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.

Publications

 

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:

Michael Kofman
Director, Russia Studies Program
kofmanm@cna.org

Ken E. Gause
Director, International Affairs Group
(703) 824-2451
gausek@cna.org
ken.gause@cna.navy.smil.mil

RSP in the News

December 12, 2018

Michael Kofman says, “The Pantsir didn’t perform miserably, it simply doesn’t have a radar suitable for tracking small slow-flying targets. It was not built with that mission in mind.”

War Is Boring: “Can Russia’s Pantsir Air-Defense System Handle Drone Swarms?”

December 11, 2018

Samuel Bendett says, “Russia views the Arctic as an area vital to its national security — for the defense of the nation, for the economic development and for environmental factors.”

Defense One: “Russia’s New Arctic Drones Are Built to Spot Ships”

November 29, 2018

Samuel Bendett says, “Russia, in particular, was working on several versions of exoskeletons, including one that it tested recently in Syria.”

Reuters: “Pentagon Looks to Exoskeletons to Build 'Super-Soldiers'”

November 28, 2018

Dmitry Gorenburg and Michael Kofman write, “During the events on Sunday, Ukraine sought to demonstrate that Russia is not the master of the Sea of Azov, while Russia sought to communicate that it indeed was.”

The Washington Post: “Russia and Ukraine Had a Short Naval Battle. Here’s What You Need to Know.”

November 28, 2018

Michael Kofman writes, “Ukraine likely sought to contest Russian efforts to impose a new status quo, establishing sovereignty over the strait and steadily clinching its grip over the Sea of Azov. Moscow wanted a public demonstration of the true balance of power.”

Russia Military Analysis: “The Kerch Strait Naval Skirmish”