Samuel Charap

Samuel Charap
Senior Political Scientist


Ph.D. in political science, University of Oxford; M.Phil. in Russian and East European studies, University of Oxford; B.A. in political science and Russian, Amherst College

Media Resources

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Samuel Charap is a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation. His research interests include the foreign policies of Russia and the former Soviet states; European and Eurasian regional security; and U.S.-Russia deterrence, strategic stability, and arms control.

From November 2012 until April 2017, Charap was the senior fellow for Russia and Eurasia at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. Prior to joining the IISS, he served at the U.S. Department of State as senior advisor to the undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security and on the Secretary’s Policy Planning Staff, covering Russia and Eurasia. From 2009 to 2011, Charap was director for Russia and Eurasia at the Center for American Progress.

Charap's book on the Ukraine crisis, Everyone Loses: The Ukraine Crisis and the Ruinous Contest for Post-Soviet Eurasia (coauthored with Timothy Colton), was published in January 2017. His articles have appeared in The Washington Quarterly, Foreign Affairs, Survival, Current History, and several other journals.

Charap was a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Moscow Center and the International Center for Policy Studies (Kyiv), and a Fulbright Scholar at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations. He is fluent in Russian and proficient in Ukrainian. Charap holds a Ph.D. in political science and an M.Phil. in Russian and East European studies from the University of Oxford, where he was a Marshall Scholar. He received his B.A. in Russian and political science from Amherst College. He is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations. 

Selected Publications

Charap, Samuel, Miranda Priebe, Avoiding a Long War: U.S. Policy and the Trajectory of the Russia-Ukraine Conflict, RAND Corporation (PE-A2510-1), 2023

Charap, Samuel, Andrew Stravers, John J. Drennan, Dara Massicot, Sean M. Zeigler, Gregory Weider Fauerbach, Mark Stalczynski, and Melissa Shostak, Understanding Russian Coercive Signaling, RAND Corporation (RR-A198-9), 2022

Charap, Samuel, Edward Geist, Bryan Frederick, John J. Drennan, Nathan Chandler, and Jennifer Kavanagh, Russia's Military Interventions: Patterns, Drivers, and Signposts, RAND Corporation (RR-A444-3), 2021

Samuel Charap and Timothy J. Colton, Everyone Loses: The Ukraine Crisis and the Ruinous Contest for Post-Soviet Eurasia, Routledge, 2017



Recent Media Appearances

Interviews: ABC News Australia Online; Al-Monitor; Associated Press TV; BBC News; BBC World News; Bloomberg News; CBS News; CNBC; CNN; CNN International; Council on Foreign Relations; DIE ZEIT; FiveThirtyEight; Meduza, Latvia; None of the Above, Eurasia Group Foundation; NPR News; Nyheder - TV2, Denmark; PBS NewsHour; PRI, The World; Robert Wright's Nonzero podcast; WAMU, 1A; War & Peace, International Crisis Group; Wisdom of Crowds podcast;; Yomiuri Shimbun

Commentary: The Economist; Financial Times; Foreign Affairs; New York Times; The Washington Post; Stimson


  • Ukraine

    Elements of an Eventual Russia-Ukraine Armistice and the Prospect for Regional Stability in Europe

    There is no going back to normal relations with Russia after its wanton violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity. But it is still possible to conceive of managing the competition with Russia and working out regional arrangements that will reduce the possibility of future conflicts and contribute to regional and global stability.

    Dec 21, 2023


  • Russia

    Rightsizing the Russia Threat

    A proper understanding of the threat Russia poses must begin with an accurate appraisal of Russian power. Putin might harbor fantasies of world conquest. But his military cannot even fully conquer any of the four Ukrainian provinces he claims to have annexed last year. Ultimately, those are the constraints that should bound the debate about the extent of the threat.

    Oct 3, 2023

    Foreign Affairs

  • Ukraine

    Should Ukraine Negotiate with Russia?

    The fundamental drivers of the continuing hostilities in Ukraine could produce a years-long conflict that causes immense human suffering, economic hardship, and international instability. The United States and its allies should begin to try to steer the conflict toward an endgame.

    Jul 13, 2023

    Foreign Affairs

  • Ukraine

    Ukraine Should Not Close Off Routes to the Negotiating Table

    Ukraine and Russia will probably eventually return to the table—perhaps not this month or even this year—and therefore it is important to debate ideas for how to get there, not to dismiss them.

    Mar 7, 2023

    Financial Times

  • Ukraine

    One Year After Russia's Invasion of Ukraine: Experts React

    We asked nearly 30 RAND experts to highlight takeaways from the first year of Russia's all-out war—and share what they're watching as the conflict in Ukraine grinds on. Here's what they said.

    Feb 20, 2023

  • Ukraine

    Planning Now for a Negotiated Outcome in Ukraine

    The United States should consider keeping open lines of communication with Russia. While it may not lead to peace in Ukraine any time soon, it could help mitigate the risks of dramatic escalation and indefinite war.

    Oct 28, 2022

    Foreign Affairs

  • International Diplomacy

    The Wisdom of U.S. Restraint on Russia

    The United States has been gradually increasing assistance to Ukraine without provoking a wider war. Although this approach has frustrated Ukrainian leaders and many observers, it reflects the best traditions of Cold War–era crisis diplomacy—pursuing U.S. interests while avoiding a direct clash with a rival, always with an eye on the long term.

    Sep 12, 2022

    Foreign Affairs

  • International Diplomacy

    Could U.S. Weapons Assistance to Ukraine Lead to Russian Escalation?

    The United States and its allies should certainly continue providing Ukraine with the matériel it needs, but they should also—in close consultation with Kyiv—begin opening channels of communication with Russia. An eventual cease-fire should be the goal, even as the path to it remains uncertain.

    Aug 1, 2022

    New York Times

  • Warfare and Military Operations

    Ukraine's Best Chance for Peace

    In late March, Ukrainian diplomats introduced an innovative framework for a deal that could provide a pathway out of the war. There are powerful obstacles to achieving an agreement based on the framework, but so far it is the most plausible pathway identified to a sustainable peace for Ukraine.

    Jun 1, 2022

    Foreign Affairs

  • Cyber Warfare

    Russian Cyberattacks May Be Coming. What Might Be an Optimal Strategy for Responding?

    Russia appears poised to make a first move against the United States and its allies in cyberspace. A savvy U.S. response that is deliberately measured and accompanied by the right message could end this fight after the first round.

    Apr 14, 2022

    The Washington Post

  • Russia

    Even as War Rages, It's Not Too Soon for U.S. Policymakers to Look Over Horizon

    As Russia's war in Ukraine grinds on and the humanitarian disaster deepens, Washington may be tempted to focus exclusively on punishing Putin. But that approach might well backfire. Over the long term, the United States wants stability and peace in and around Ukraine and to ensure that Moscow pays a cost for its aggression without making it a global pariah.

    Mar 30, 2022

    Foreign Affairs

  • Ukraine

    Ensuring Russia's War with Ukraine Doesn't Morph into Direct Conflict with NATO

    Russia has launched an unprecedented act of aggression against Ukraine. The United States and its allies must respond forcefully. But as they do, they should take into account the possibility of triggering a spiral of escalation that could lead to the only outcome worse than the invasion of Ukraine itself: a hot war between Russia and NATO.

    Mar 2, 2022

    Financial Times

  • Russia

    How to Break the Cycle of Conflict with Russia

    Europe might well be on the brink of a major catastrophe. Until Russia, the United States, Europe, and the states stuck in between them reach a consensus on a revised regional order, post-Soviet Eurasia will remain a source of instability and conflict.

    Feb 7, 2022

    Foreign Affairs

  • Ukraine

    U.S. Military Aid to Ukraine: A Silver Bullet?

    U.S. military assistance to Ukraine now will at best be marginal in affecting the outcome of the Russia-Ukraine crisis. It might be morally justified to help a U.S. partner at risk of aggression. But given the scale of the potential threat to Ukraine and its forces, the most effective way Washington can help is to work on finding a diplomatic solution.

    Jan 21, 2022

    Foreign Policy

  • Russia

    Speaking Aloud What NATO Has Left Unsaid Could Help Ease Ukraine-Russia Impasse

    A statement that NATO has no intention to offer Ukraine membership at present should only be made in return for a tangible drawdown of Russian forces on the border. It concedes nothing to declare that NATO is not planning to do something it has no intention of doing anyway.

    Jan 13, 2022

    Financial Times

  • Ukraine

    How Could the United States React to Russia's Latest Posturing on Ukraine?

    Russia's military buildup along its border with Ukraine has been accompanied by dramatically tougher rhetoric in recent months. Russian President Vladimir Putin may believe Ukraine is at an inflection point and that it's time to up the ante. The risk of a major war seems real enough to justify a new U.S. approach.

    Nov 19, 2021


  • Russia

    Why We Must Talk to Russia

    Compromise is the essence of diplomacy, the only way short of coercion, violence, and war of settling international disputes. Before we accept that no compromise with Russia is possible, we should first understand the cost of a new Cold War with Russia that would result.

    Jan 2, 2020

    Atlantic Council

  • International Diplomacy

    Can Washington and Moscow Agree to Limit Political Interference?

    After his meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in May, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Russia had proposed a mutual non-interference pledge. The concept of elaborating norms of non-interference on a mutual basis might be the best way to stabilize U.S.-Russian relations and prevent the damaging episodes of recent years from happening again.

    Jun 13, 2019

    War on the Rocks

  • Ukraine

    Book Review: Ukraine and the Art of Strategy by Lawrence Freedman

    The crisis in Ukraine has proved a watershed moment for Russia's relations with the West. In Ukraine and the Art of Strategy, Lawrence Freedman presents a brief history of the conflict and analyzes it in the context of strategic theory.

    Apr 16, 2019

    Foreign Affairs

  • Security Cooperation

    Time to Make a Deal on Syria

    U.S. leverage is much diminished by the Assad regime's recent gains but there are still opportunities for Washington and Russia to achieve a settlement that preserves some U.S. interests. These include maintaining the gains made against the Islamic State and constraining Iranian influence in Syria.

    Jul 10, 2018

    Foreign Policy

  • Ukraine

    The Ukraine Crisis: Why Everyone Loses

    The Ukraine conflict has left every major actor involved worse off than it was before, and a resolution seems as elusive as ever. An inclusive dialogue on the regional order could be the first step toward defusing the conflict.

    Apr 19, 2017

    Russia Matters