75 years of service to our nation


Michael Kofman
Research Scientist


Michael Kofman is an expert on Russia, Eurasia and Pakistan. His research focuses on security issues in Russia and the former Soviet Union, specializing in defense and military analysis.

Kofman has advised senior military and government officials on Russia, Eurasia and Pakistan and represented the Department of Defense on numerous occasions before foreign officials and dignitaries. In addition to his role at CNA, he is a Kennan Institute Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center. Kofman has published numerous articles on security issues in Eurasia, specifically Russia and Ukraine, and has appeared as a featured guest on broadcast news programs throughout the country.

Kofman holds an M.A. in Security Studies with a concentration in International Security from Georgetown University and a B.A. in International Affairs and Political Science from Northeastern University. He is fluent in Russian.


February 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 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 14, 2018

Michael Kofman writes, "the story of Russian casualties among supporting PMCs (mercenaries belonging to private military companies) has proliferated across the internet and newspaper articles, with many of the facts and figures inaccurate."

Russian Military Analysis: "U.S. Strikes and Russian PMC Casualties in Syria – Fact vs Fiction"

February 13, 2018

Michael Kofman says Damascus "needs these oil and gas facilities to sustain whatever rump state that is left and let it survive. The key fault line now, and the reason for the fighting, is energy resources."

The Wall Street Journal: "Russians Among Those Killed in U.S. Airstrike in Eastern Syria"

February 6, 2018

Michael Kofman writes, "Russia's Aerospace Forces have shown dramatic progress compared to their performance in the 2008 Russia-Georgia war. Military reforms launched that same year and a large modernization program in 2011 have left their mark."

The Moscow Times: "Starving Wolf No Longer: Can Russia Sustain Its Military? (Op-ed)"