Paul J. Saunders
Research Scientist
Advisor, Operations Support


Paul Saunders is an expert on Russia, overseeing research on that country's foreign energy policy, foreign policy, national security policy and domestic politics, as well as U.S.-Russian relations. He also focuses on climate change and national security, energy geopolitics, deterrence and European security.

Prior to his affiliation with CNA, Saunders served as Senior Advisor and Deputy Chief of Staff to the Undersecretary of State for Global Affairs, as Director of the Nixon Center and as a Senior Policy Advisor to the Speaker's Advisory Group on Russia of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Saunders is the Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer of the Center for the National Interest and Associate Publisher of The National Interest. He is also a member of the board of directors of the Energy Innovation Reform Project. Saunders is a frequent commentator for national broadcast and digital media and is a columnist for Al-Monitor, writing about Russia.

Saunders holds both an M.A. and a B.A. in Russian and East European Studies from the University of Michigan. He is fluent in Russian and German.


February 5, 2020

Paul Saunders writes, "While governments have shared interests in many things like promoting global prosperity or preventing terrorism, differing national interests drive solutions based on tensions among competing goals like economic growth and emissions reductions."

RealClear Energy: "A Better Solution to Make Climate Negotiations Work"

September 19, 2019

Paul J. Saunders writes, "Preserving and strengthening America's international influence in today's competitive world requires engagement with a range of nations, including those that we disagree with on many issues."

The National Interest: "Oil Supply Showdown: Why America Must Stand Beside Its Saudi Partner"

February 13, 2018

In a new report, CNA analysts have undertaken an effort to map the Russian media environment and examine Russian decision-making as it relates to the media through a series of scenarios that range from crisis to steady state. Read more.

February 2, 2018

Paul Saunders writes, "All in all, the U.S.-Qatar Strategic Dialogue and the public statements accompanying it were necessary and constructive correctives."

The National Interest: "Trump Leans Toward Qatar in the Saudi Spat"

August 16, 2017

The Tokyo Foundation publishes “Pyongyang’s Nuclear Warheads: Pursuing Options Short of War” by CNA analyst Paul Saunders

April 5, 2017

The National Interest quotes CNA analysts Paul Saunders, Ph.D. and Michael Kofman in "Why are Russia and Turkey Holding Joint Naval Exercises in the Black Sea?"