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
Featured Analyses by RSP Analysts
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 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.
- There is No Russian Withdrawal from Syria
- Countering Color Revolutions: Russia’s New Security Strategy and its Implications for U.S. Policy
- "Russian Maritime Interests in Asia" in CNA Workshop Maritime Asia Project: Naval Developments in Asia
- The Unexpectedly Underwhelming Role of Ethnicity in Russian Politics
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 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 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.
- NATO Deterrence and the Russian Specter in the Baltics
- The Expensive Pretzel Logic of Deterring Russia by Denial
- The Russian Military: A Force in Transition
- Fixing NATO Deterrence In the East or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love NATO's Crushing Defeat by Russia
- What Makes Great Power War Possible
- Russia's submarine program: How big a threat?
- There is No Russian Withdrawal from Syria
- How to Lose a Proxy War with Russia
- The Russian Quagmire in Syria and Other Washington Fairy Tales
- The Seven Deadly Sins of Russia Analysis
- The Russian Navy: Strategies and Missions of a Force in Transition
- Why the U.S. Should Be Paying Attention to Russia's Latest Strikes in Syria
- Six Key Trends in Russian Foreign Policy, As Seen by the West
- The Russian Intervention in Syria: Policy Options and Exit Strategies
- Russia Banks on Brief Campaign to Determine Syria Endgame
- Russia's Arsenal in Syria: What Do We Know?
- How Russia's Gambit in Syria Changes the Game
- Putin's Strategy is Far Better than You Think
- Is Russia's Power to Annoy Changing the Game?
- Pulling Russia and Ukraine Back from the Brink of War
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.
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.
- Admiral Gorshkov Frigate Reveals Serious Shortcomings in Russia’s Naval Modernization Program
- Sino-Russian Defense Relations Intensify
- What the Dutch Safety Board Report Tells Us About the Downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17
- Syria: A New Russian Asymmetric Challenge
- Russia’s Contribution to China’s Surface Warfare Capabilities, Feeding the Dragon
- What the Iran Deal Means for Russia
- U.S. Navy Deploying New Measures to Counter Russian Cruise Missiles
- Russian INF Treaty Violation: Assessment and Response
- Evolution of Sino-Russian Defense Relations since the Cold War
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.
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.
- Russian Foreign Policy in Historical and Current Context: A Reassessment
- Building Afghanistan’s Security Forces in Wartime: The Soviet Experience
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:
RSP in the NewsFebruary 21, 2018
Michael Kofman says, "Some policymakers believe Russia has an offensive nuclear strategy, but there is nothing to support this since asymmetric escalation when you're winning is not really credible."
Defense News: "Out of Moscow: Washington Got the Basics of Russian Nuclear Strategy All Wrong"February 20, 2018
Samuel Bendett says, "The key here is that the Russians are starting to move away from 'regular' UAV designs and are beginning to experiment with a variety of UAV design and applications."
The National Interest: "Here Is How Russia Hopes to Dominate the Drone Market"February 18, 2018
Michael Kofman says, "PMCs have shown that they can make the difference on distant battlefields and are a useful offset when Russia wants to keep its own military footprint small. They are also an effective tool in support of state-sponsored insurgency or unconventional warfare because they are deniable and disposable."
The Cipher Brief: "Deniability and De-Escalation: Russia's Use of Military Contractors in Proxy Wars"February 18, 2018
Michael Kofman says, "We don't know concretely who is paying [the mercenaries], but they are supported, deployed and moved about by Russian military, so we can draw some conclusions from that,"
Los Angeles Times: "Russia's Shadowy World of Military Contractors: Independent Mercenaries, or Working for the Kremlin?"February 16, 2018
Vera Zakem says, "We have to look beyond these 13 individuals and we really have to be looking at the very expansive and comprehensive effort Russians have engaged in the interference of the United States election."
BBC: "Russians Indicted for Meddling in U.S. Election"