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  • Commentary posted March 5, 2014 by Ariel Cohen, Ph.D. Getting Russia off the Ukrainian Tree in the Crimea

    Last week, Russia declared war on Ukraine. On March 1, the Russian Parliament’s Upper House, the Council of the Federation, voted to authorize the use of force against its neighbor. Now Russia has invaded the Crimea, my birthplace, a beautiful peninsula offering a subtropical coastline that has been popular with visitors since the days of Anton Chekhov. Today’s visitors…

  • Commentary posted February 27, 2014 by Ariel Cohen, Ph.D. Ukraine: Next Steps

    Ukrainians have succeeded in their struggle against a corrupt, incompetent president. For now. But for the revolution to be a success, Kyiv’s new leaders must make a strong effort to reform the economy, revitalize government institutions and protect the country’s sovereignty—not squabble over power and portfolios. The Rada, Ukraine’s parliament, removed Viktor Yanukovych…

  • Issue Brief posted January 24, 2014 by Ariel Cohen, Ph.D. Ukraine’s Anti-Protest Laws: A Step Backwards in Time

    Violent clashes between police and demonstrators erupted in Kyiv, Ukraine, last weekend in the wake of new legislation effectively banning public protest. If the two sides do not take a step back from the brink, the confrontation may lead to chaos, when neither the government nor the opposition have control. The legislation, passed on January 16 by President Victor…

  • Issue Brief posted January 6, 2014 by Cassandra Lucaccioni , Ariel Cohen, Ph.D. Sochi: Security and Counterterrorism at the 2014 Winter Olympics

    Two bomb attacks, carried out by suicide bombers at a railway station and a bus in Volgograd (formerly Stalingrad), 500 miles southeast of Moscow, shattered the pre-holiday spirit as Russians prepared to celebrate the New Year. Up to 45 people, including children, were killed, and over 100 were injured, many of them severely; the death count is sure to climb. The Olympic…

  • Commentary posted December 31, 2013 by Ariel Cohen, Ph.D. What Russian terrorists hope to accomplish ahead of Sochi Olympics

    As Russians prepared to celebrate the New Year, two horrendous explosions shook the city of Volgograd. Monday’s terrorist attacks -- both carried out by suicide bombers -- killed more than 30 people and injured more than 60 others.   Given the severity of the injuries, the death count will surely climb. And new attacks are possible. The bombings came just five weeks…

  • Issue Brief posted December 13, 2013 by Ariel Cohen, Ph.D. The U.S. Should Lead on Ukraine

    U.S. policy toward Ukraine suffered a significant self-inflicted injury early Thursday morning when President Viktor Yanukovich dispatched riot-control teams to disperse peaceful demonstrators in the center of Kyiv, the ancient capital of Ukraine. So far, the White House and the State Department have been behind the curve on one of the most important geopolitical crises…

  • Issue Brief posted December 11, 2013 by Michaela Dodge, Ariel Cohen, Ph.D. Russia’s Arms Control Violations: What the U.S. Should Do

    This past June, President Obama called for another round of nuclear weapons reductions by stating that he intends to “seek negotiated cuts with Russia to move beyond Cold War nuclear postures.”[1] The United States has already moved beyond its Cold War nuclear posture. Since the end of the Cold War, the U.S. has cut the number of its deployed strategic nuclear weapons by…

  • Special Report posted November 26, 2013 by James M. Roberts, Ariel Cohen, Ph.D., Jonathan Blaisdell The Eurasian Union: Undermining Economic Freedom and Prosperity in the South Caucasus

    The Southern Caucasus—Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia—is in Russia’s geopolitical crosshairs. Russian President Vladimir Putin, who once called the demise of the Soviet Union “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the [20th] century,”[1] is seeking economic and political alliances to restore Russia’s power in what then-President Dmitry Medvedev called its traditional…

  • Commentary posted October 25, 2013 by Ariel Cohen, Ph.D. Russia's Khodorkovsky Mistake

    On October 25, it will be ten years since a Russian SWAT team arrested oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky in a Siberian airport. It was a watershed moment for Russia, defining the Putin era as one in which the Russian oligarchs were subjugated to the Kremlin. Prior to Khodorkovsky’s arrest, the Kremlin had limited itself to deposing media oligarchs. It had, for example,…

  • Backgrounder posted October 21, 2013 by Ariel Cohen, Ph.D. Why the U.S. Should Support Ukraine’s Association and Free Trade Agreements with Europe

    On August 17, 2013, the Kyiv-based website Ukraine Today published a document summarizing the Kremlin’s strategy on how to force Ukraine to join Russia’s sphere of influence.[1] The Russian strategy, which the Kremlin has not disavowed, is designed to pressure Ukraine into joining a Moscow-led Customs Union (which currently includes Belarus and Kazakhstan). The strategy…

  • Backgrounder posted September 12, 2013 by Dean Cheng, Ariel Cohen, Ph.D. How Washington Should Manage U.S.–Russia–China Relations

    As the Obama Administration focuses on the Middle East and Europe and the U.S. cuts its defense budget, the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) are striving to deepen their relationship. The leaders of the two major Eurasian powers have conducted a series of high-priority, high-level official reciprocal diplomatic visits. In the aftermath of the…

  • Issue Brief posted August 29, 2013 by Ariel Cohen, Ph.D. Obama and the G20 Summit: Time to Rethink U.S.–Russian Relations

    President Obama will be in St. Petersburg, Russia, on September 5–6 for the G20 summit. However, the White House has canceled a bilateral visit to Moscow and a meeting with President Vladimir Putin after Russia granted Edward Snowden, a fugitive former National Security Agency contractor and secret national security documents leaker, temporary political asylum.…

  • Commentary posted August 19, 2013 by Ariel Cohen, Ph.D. Putin Drops In, America Drops Out

    For the first time in his third term, Russian president Vladimir Putin has visited Azerbaijan. The former Soviet republic is an emerging leader in the South Caucasus region, and Putin's high-profile visit was another way to demonstrate to Washington that Russia’s zone of "privileged interests" today covers almost all post-Soviet republics with the exception of…

  • Backgrounder posted June 14, 2013 by Ariel Cohen, Ph.D. Russia’s Eurasian Union Could Endanger the Neighborhood and U.S. Interests

    In the fall of 2011, Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed forming a Eurasian Union (EAU) with Kazakhstan and Belarus. In November 2011, the presidents of these three countries signed an agreement to launch the Eurasian Union and make it fully operational by 2015. Stretching from the Polish border to the Pacific, the length of the former Soviet Union, the new Eurasian…

  • Issue Brief posted May 29, 2013 by Ariel Cohen, Ph.D. Russian Missiles to Syria Endanger U.S. Foreign Policy Goals

    Russia is planning to supply Syria game-changing weapons which will shift the balance of power in the eastern Mediterranean in favor of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime and may make any future operations against the Assad forces considerably more difficult. If Moscow’s missile supply plans go through, the Russian advanced weapons systems would be able to target NATO…