Olga Oliker

Photo of Olga Oliker
Director, Center for Russia and Eurasia
Washington Office


M.P.P., John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University; B.A. in international studies, Emory University

Media Resources

This researcher is available for interviews.

To arrange an interview, contact the RAND Office of Media Relations at (310) 451-6913, or email media@rand.org.

More Experts


Olga Oliker is director of the Center for Russia and Eurasia and a senior international policy analyst at the RAND Corporation. Her areas of expertise include Russian and post-Soviet foreign and defense policies, U.S. foreign policy, and the evolving European security environment. Oliker has also written extensively on security and governance reform, as well as international efforts to promote them, around the world. Other research interests include Eurasian politics and voluntary and semi-voluntary migration. Before coming to RAND in 1999, Oliker worked at the Office of the Secretary of Defense and as an independent consultant. Oliker received her B.A. in international studies from Emory University and her M.P.P. from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Recent Projects

  • The European security environment
  • Russian foreign policy and deterrence strategy
  • Current and historical development of Afghanistan's national security forces

Selected Publications

Olga Oliker, Building Afghanistan's Security Forces in Wartime: The Soviet Experience, RAND Corporation (MG-1078), 2011

James T. Quinlivan, Olga Oliker, Nuclear Deterrence in Europe: Russian Approaches to a New Environment and Implications for the United States, RAND Corporation (MG-1075), 2011

Olga Oliker, Audra Grant, Dalia Dassa Kaye, The Impact of U.S. Military Drawdown in Iraq on Displaced and Other Vulnerable Populations, RAND Corporation (OP-272), 2010

Olga Oliker, et al, Russian Foreign Policy: Sources and Implications, RAND Corporation (MG-768), 2009

David C. Gompert, Olga Oliker, Brooke Stearns Lawson, Keith Crane, K. Jack Riley, Making Liberia Safe: Transformation of the National Security Sector, RAND Corporation (MG-529), 2007

Olga Oliker et al., U.S. Policy Options for Iraq: A Reassessment, RAND Corporation (MG-613), 2007

Olga Oliker and David Shlapak, U.S. Interests in Central Asia: Policy Priorities and Military Roles, RAND Corporation (MG-338), 2005

Olga Oliker, et al., Aid During Conflict: Interaction Between Military and Civilian Assistance Providers in Afghanistan, September 2001-June 2002, RAND Corporation (MG-212), 2004



Recent Media Appearances

Interviews: Bloomberg News; Business Week; CNN; Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service; NPR; Voice of America; Washington Times

Commentary: Baltimore Sun; Business Insider; Chicago Tribune; CNN; Europe's World; Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service; New York Times; Parliamentary Brief; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty; U.S. News & World Report; Voice of America; Washington Post


  • U.S. soldiers take pictures of President Barack Obama at U.S. military base Yongsan Garrison in Seoul, South Korea, April 26, 2014

    Loose Clicks Sink Ships: When Social Media Meets Military Intelligence

    Social media updates can reveal military intelligence. But stopping a soldier from posting a geotagged tweet or Instagram photo presents challenges.

    Aug 14, 2015 U.S. News & World Report

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs the Security Council in Moscow's Kremlin, December 26, 2014

    Russia's New Military Doctrine: Same as the Old Doctrine, Mostly

    Russia maintains it will use military force only defensively, when other options have failed. But this is the doctrine of a state that sees a lot to defend against, even as its interests expand globally. The danger is Moscow's view of threats everywhere may prove self-fulfilling.

    Jan 15, 2015 The Washington Post Monkey Cage Blog

  • A board displays currency exchange rates on a Moscow street, December 29, 2014

    Rapprochement with Russia?

    The ruble's fragility presents an opportunity for American and European diplomats to offer Putin a deal that de-escalates the war in Ukraine, provides Russia sanctions relief, and revitalizes Moscow's economic ties with the West.

    Dec 30, 2014 The New York Times

  • A soldier from the Ukrainian self-defense battalion "Azov" stands guard at a checkpoint in the southern coastal town of Mariupol, September 8, 2014

    The Damage Already Done

    The conflict in Ukraine calls for capable diplomacy, open channels of communication, and clear strategies. At least the latter two appear to be absent, but they can be developed in time. Ending the conflict, however, calls for clear mutual intent to solve problems, build trust, and move forward. That may prove even more elusive.

    Sep 8, 2014 U.S. News & World Report

  • People walk along the street soon after, what locals say, was recent shelling by Ukrainian forces, in Donetsk on August 20, 2014

    Make Russia an Offer on Ukraine It Can't Refuse

    An international initiative that does not appear to emanate from NATO or the EU could help bring Russia to the table, in part by accepting that Moscow, too, has a role. An international peacekeeping force could open the way for a negotiated end to the conflict.

    Aug 20, 2014 CNN

  • A soldier stands guard near a tank position close to the Russian border near the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv

    No Easy Answers for Ukraine

    What Russia seeks from its adventure is status, importance and free reign in its neighborhood, for a start. If sanctions and other responses are short-lived, Moscow will feel victorious, and possibly emboldened to future aggression.

    Mar 26, 2014 U.S. News & World Report

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a government meeting

    Does Putin Want a New Cold War?

    Ultimately, the door to improved relations, following the withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukraine, should be left open. No iron curtain should be allowed to settle over Europe.

    Mar 5, 2014 CNN

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin takes part in a video conference in Moscow's Kremlin December 23, 2013

    Russia-U.S. Relations, 2013

    As Russia continues to define its interests globally, including in the Middle East and in Asia, we can all be on the watch for new opportunities for both coordination and conflict between Moscow and Washington.

    Jan 7, 2014 Voice of America Russian Service

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin in a televised news conference in Moscow

    Putin's Pardons

    Few, if any, think that the amnesties just announced are a sea change in Russian domestic policy. Some speculate that they are an effort to dampen criticism of Russian human rights abuses, especially the anti-gay law, as Russia gears up for the Sochi Olympics this February.

    Dec 23, 2013 The RAND Blog and GlobalSecurity.org

  • Ukrainian pro-EU demonstrators wave EU and Ukraine flags at a barricade in Independence Square in Kiev, December 18, 2013

    Ukraine's Murky Future

    While some see Ukraine choosing between European-style democracy and economic, political, and cultural backwardness in Russia's shadow, the fact is that Ukraine faces a difficult and murky path in any direction. The country is in dire financial straits, needing billions in loans to avoid bankruptcy.

    Dec 19, 2013 U.S. News & World Report

  • Russia's President Vladimir Putin welcomes U.S. President Barack Obama before the first working session of the G20 Summit on September 5, 2013

    The Road on from Damascus: What the Syria Deal Means for the U.S. and Russia

    The deal the United States and Russia struck to get rid of Syria's chemical weaponry is neither a sign of a sea change in relations nor a victory for one party over the other, writes Olga Oliker. It is, however, something of a testament to diplomacy on both sides.

    Sep 23, 2013 The RAND Blog

  • A photo of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, in Aleppo, Syria.

    RAND Experts Q&A on Syria

    There are increasing reports suggesting that President Obama will soon take military action against the Syrian government, perhaps targeting its chemical weapons facilities. Several RAND experts spoke with us about the latest developments.

    Aug 30, 2013

  • Vladimir Putin at World Economic Forum Annual Meeting Davos 2009

    America's Russia Policy Makes Sense

    Are U.S. officials deluded about the prospects for cooperation with a country that is fundamentally determined to undermine its goals? No, writes Olga Oliker. In fact, they are pursuing a rational approach towards a state that shares U.S. interests in some key areas, even as it fundamentally disagrees in others.

    Jul 22, 2013 CNN

  • police officers gathered after the Boston Marathon bombings

    Searching for Clues on the Brothers Tsarnaev

    One doesn't need a clear link to a global terror group to carry out an attack; one needs only the resources, the means and an Internet connection. But the global nature of these communities and their online links also create openings police can exploit.

    May 6, 2013 Chicago Tribune

  • Vladimir Putin

    Russian Nuclear Exercises Display Putin's Misguided Priorities

    By ignoring the country's real needs in favor of prestige-focused military spending Putin seems to run the risk of exacerbating public discontent rather than reassuring Russians of their global importance, writes Olga Oliker.

    Oct 31, 2012 RAND.org

  • Police training in northern Afghanistan

    What the Soviets Can Teach Us About Leaving Afghanistan

    Afghanistan will fail if it does not have a central government with enough strength, support, and willpower to maintain control of the bulk of its forces, writes Olga Oliker.

    Oct 18, 2012 U.S. News & World Report

  • Free Pussy Riot demonstration in Berlin

    What Pussy Riot Teaches Us

    The global attention drawn by Pussy Riot shows what is possible in an interconnected world, writes Olga Oliker. Opposition movements in Russia and elsewhere may take note and think about how to better harness such possibilities in the future.

    Aug 20, 2012 CNN

  • Four Years on, Hard Feelings Linger Between Russia and Georgia

    A normalized Georgia-Russia relationship remains in Georgia's, Russia's, and America's interest. Going forward, the U.S. can play a role by calibrating its own interaction with both states to promote improved relations between them, and avoid exacerbating tensions, writes Olga Oliker.

    Aug 9, 2012 RAND.org and GlobalSecurity.org

  • Building an Afghanistan Security Force: What the US Experience in Iraq (and the Soviet Experience in Afghanistan) Can Teach Us

    Olga Oliker's July 18, 2012 testimony to the House Armed Services Committee on building an Afghanistan security force.

    Jul 18, 2012

  • Will Anything Change After This Weekend's Russian Election?

    Although any reports of election irregularity will provide new impetus to opposition movements, even without them there is a growing tide of frustration with a system that repeatedly yields elections without real voter choice, writes Olga Oliker.

    Mar 3, 2012 Business Insider

  • This May Be a Key Year, but Alas Not a Decisive One

    As observers laud the new START treaty for bringing back a framework that will make substantial U.S. and Russian nuclear reductions possible, they must recognise that lowering numbers is not the same as stripping nuclear weapons of their values, writes Olga Oliker.

    Aug 1, 2010 Europe's World

  • Kosovo and South Ossetia More Different Than Similar

    The Russian government has long highlighted the similarities between Kosovo and South Ossetia.... The two situations, however, while similar on some points, are fundamentally different where it matters: in their implications for the future of international relations, writes Olga Oliker.

    Aug 25, 2008 RFERL.org, the website of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty

  • Make Room for Refugees

    Today, tens of thousands of Iraqis are in grave danger, targeted because they have worked with the United States. Many have been murdered. Others have fled their homes because of attacks or threats… Many want to come to America, and we should welcome them, writes Olga Oliker.

    Dec 16, 2007 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

  • No Law and No Order

    Published commentary by RAND staff: No Law and No Order, in Parliamentary Brief.

    Dec 2, 2006 Parliamentary Brief

  • Why America Shouldn't Sever Uzbekistan Ties

    Published commentary by RAND staff: Why America Shouldn't Sever Uzbekistan Ties, appearing in Balitmore Sun.

    Sep 6, 2005 Baltimore Sun

  • Iraqi Security Forces: Numbers and Needs

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Oct 20, 2004 Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service