William Courtney

Photo of William Courtney
Adjunct Senior Fellow
Washington Office

Education

Ph.D. in economics, Brown University; BA in economics, West Virginia 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.

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Overview

William Courtney is an adjunct senior fellow at the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation. From 2014 to 2022 he served as executive director of the RAND Business Leaders Forum. He chairs the board of trustees of Eurasia Foundation, which carries out U.S. government-funded programs abroad to improve governance and strengthen civil society. He cochairs the international advisory council of the America250 Foundation, the nonprofit executive arm of the U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission. Its purpose is to inspire and facilitate commemorations of the 250th anniversary of the founding of the United States in 1776 and oversee national signature commemorations. 

In 2014, Ambassador Courtney retired from Computer Sciences Corporation as senior principal for federal policy strategy. From 1972 through 1999 he was a foreign service officer in the Department of State. He served as ambassador to Kazakhstan, Georgia, and the U.S.-Soviet Bilateral Consultative Commission to implement the Threshold Test Ban Treaty. He was special assistant to the president for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia; deputy U.S. negotiator in the U.S.-Soviet Defense and Space Talks; deputy executive secretary of the NSC staff; and special assistant to the under secretary of State for political affairs. He served abroad in Brasilia, Moscow, Geneva, Almaty, and Tbilisi.

Ambassador Courtney is a member and former member of the board of directors of the American Academy of Diplomacy and was a member of the board of directors of the former World Affairs Council of Washington D.C. He belongs to the Council on Foreign Relations, where in 1977–78 he was an international affairs fellow. He holds a Ph.D. in economics from Brown University and a B.A. in economics from West Virginia University. 

Concurrent Non-RAND Positions

Chair of the Board of Trustees of Eurasia Foundation, and Co-Chair of the international advisory council of the America250 Foundation

Languages

Russian

Recent Media Appearances

Interviews: Al-Arabiya; Al Jazeera - English; Angry Planet podcast; APA; Arirang News, Korea; Asharq Al Awsat; BBC; Bloomberg Radio; Brussels Morning; CGTN, China Global Television Network; CNBC Cable Network; CNN International Online; CTV News, Canada; Formula News, Georgia; Fox News; i24news, Israel; KNX-AM; KPCC-FM AirTalk - Southern California Public; KPCC-FM Online; MSNBC; NewsNation; News Net; Newsy; NPR News; PRI, Public Radio International; Radio Free Europe; Sky News Australia; TRT World; Voice of America, Georgian Service; Voice of America Radio Network Online; WION News; WUSA-DC (CBS) - Washington, DC; ZEIT ONLINE

Commentary: The Cipher Brief; Foreign Policy Concepts; Fox News Channel; The Hill; Inkstick; Los Angeles Times; The Moscow Times; The National Interest; Newsweek; Politico; RealClearDefense; RealClearWorld; Reuters; USA Today; U.S. News & World Report; War on the Rocks; The Woodrow Wilson Center

Commentary

  • International Economic Relations

    Sanctioning Business Leaders in Russia

    Western sanctions are ensnaring more Russian business leaders, some of whom say they are unjustly targeted. Can those in the private sector reduce their risks of being designated? Perhaps, if they make difficult choices.

    Sep 12, 2022

    The Hill

  • Ukraine

    What if Russia's Army Fails in Ukraine?

    Fighting in Ukraine will likely continue. But battlefield advantages could continue to ebb and flow, too. The West should prudently prepare for Ukrainian success as well as a less favorable outcome.

    Jun 20, 2022

    The Hill

  • Trade Barriers

    Unblocking the Black Sea for Ukrainian Grain

    As Russia has been blockading ports around Odesa, Ukrainian grain exports in May were more than 60 percent lower than a year ago. Global hunger has hit a new high while 22 million tons of grain in Ukraine could rot if not exported soon.

    Jun 15, 2022

    The Hill

  • Ukraine

    Geostrategic Consequences of Russia's War Against Ukraine

    After two months of fighting in Ukraine, some longer-term geostrategic consequences are coming into focus. Russia may emerge as a massive loser. Perhaps not since the collapse of the USSR has European security been so challenged. But Ukraine and its Western partners are showing that aggression in Europe may not pay.

    Apr 26, 2022

    The Hill

  • Ukraine

    Rebuilding Ukraine

    By leveraging better investment conditions and reforms and broad international support, Ukraine could carry out a well-executed reconstruction program once the fighting ends. It might repair much of the war damage and help Ukraine move into the ranks of faster-growing European economies.

    Apr 18, 2022

    United Press International

  • Russia

    Russia and Ukraine: The Economic Consequences of Peace

    Amid some hopeful signs in Russian-Ukrainian ceasefire talks, it may be useful to keep in mind that the West could gain substantial economic leverage to influence outcomes during and after Russia's war against Ukraine. How it uses this leverage could have far-reaching consequences.

    Apr 8, 2022

    The Hill

  • Military Strategy

    Russia Destroyed Grozny and Aleppo—Is Kyiv Next?

    Russia used a brutal approach in Grozny and Aleppo, and may use a similar approach against Ukraine's cities. But it could be less effective or riskier in Ukraine. Ukraine's determination to resist is strong, and the West is supplying an impressive array of advanced weaponry and intelligence support.

    Mar 28, 2022

    The Hill

  • Russia

    If Regime Change Were to Come to Moscow

    Strains in Russia over the war in Ukraine and punishing economic sanctions could spark regime change in Moscow. Although prospects for this are uncertain, the West might be prudent to begin considering how to deal with any new government.

    Mar 18, 2022

    The Moscow Times

  • Russia

    Where Is Business in Russia?

    Businesses in Russia have little hope of making a full recovery and operating normally in the global economy unless the West lifts its extraordinary sanctions. Political and civic engagement may be essential to protect their value and the interests of shareholders and employees.

    Mar 16, 2022

    The Hill

  • Ukraine

    Continuity of Government in Ukraine

    On February 23 Russia launched a war on Ukraine. Ukraine's president Volodymyr Zelensky and its parliament might accelerate steps to ensure the continuity of government, a need made more urgent because of the risk that Kyiv could soon fall.

    Feb 25, 2022

    The Hill

  • Ukraine

    Two Choices in Ukraine

    Facing existential risk, Ukraine may consider unprecedented steps. Urgent measures might help it protect against a Russian invasion. And if the immediate threat were to ebb, Ukraine might use the time gained to prepare for potential future threats.

    Jan 31, 2022

    The Hill

  • Russia

    Russia May Underestimate Ukraine and NATO

    Moscow has unveiled outlandish security demands that sound aggressive and suggest that it may underestimate both NATO and Ukraine. Kremlin leaders might consider instead seeking a stable European security architecture that protects Russia's interests while also allowing for a vibrant and sovereign Ukraine.

    Dec 27, 2021

    Moscow Times

  • Ukraine

    If Russia Invaded Ukraine

    The United States and NATO worry that Russia may be planning an invasion of Ukraine. A renewed crisis could spur the United States and its NATO allies to go beyond, perhaps well beyond, their responses to Russia's 2014 assault.

    Dec 8, 2021

    The Hill

  • Ukraine

    Is Russia About to Make a 'Serious Mistake' in Ukraine?

    Russian military shifts and stinging Kremlin criticisms of Ukraine are raising questions about Moscow's aims. Russia's seizure and annexation of Crimea and invasion of eastern Ukraine in 2014 led to a strong Western response. What could be in store now?

    Nov 15, 2021

    The Hill

  • Russia

    Russia's Neighbors Have More Leverage Than They Think

    While Ukraine, Belarus, and Georgia may be top priorities for Russia, Moscow has less room for maneuver than its power might suggest. Some of Moscow's difficulties with neighbors could leave openings for the West.

    Oct 25, 2021

    The National Interest

  • International Diplomacy

    Summit Gives Biden Chance to Nudge Post-Soviet States Toward Democracy

    President Biden may invite Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine to his “summit for democracy” in December. By both praising and nudging these imperfect democracies to do more to achieve their democratic potential, Biden could give his agenda more meaning.

    Sep 20, 2021

    The Hill

  • Belarus

    Moscow Hesitated in Poland—Will It in Belarus?

    Forty years ago, Russia used a major military exercise in part to scare Poland's communist leaders into cracking down on protesters. A similar Russian exercise now could be aimed in part at pressuring Belarus. If so, the West could respond in several ways.

    Sep 13, 2021

    The Hill

  • Russia

    After Afghanistan, Could Russia Misjudge America?

    Over the years, the United States has been humbled abroad more than once but bounced back. Now, as it withdraws from Afghanistan, might Russia see the United States as defeated and vulnerable to pressure? This could be an error.

    Aug 26, 2021

    The Hill

  • Russia

    Which Kremlin Can Investors Expect?

    A Kremlin that backs sound macroeconomic policy and a strong private sector could hearten investors. A Kremlin that pursues statist economics and security at all costs could discourage them. Which Kremlin should investors expect?

    Aug 12, 2021

    The Hill

  • Russia

    Disrespecting Europe Could Cost Russia

    Western unity is critical to addressing authoritarian challenges. Brexit, immigration, leadership transition in Germany, and COVID-19 provide grist for Russian propaganda claims of European weakness. But unified EU action on Ukraine, Navalny, and Belarus shows that Europe is a force with which to be reckoned.

    Jul 26, 2021

    The National Interest

  • Natural Gas

    Depoliticizing Russian Gas in Europe

    At their June 16 Summit in Geneva, Presidents Biden and Putin might consider how to reduce the sharp tensions over the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project. Cooperation among governments and companies may offer potential.

    Jun 11, 2021

    The Moscow Times

  • Russia

    Summit a Chance to Clarify U.S.-Russia Relations: RAND Call With Experts

    RAND experts discuss possible topics of conversation and potential takeaways from the upcoming summit between the United States and Russia. The summit will be a chance to rebuild and review the countries' fraught relationship.

    Jun 10, 2021

  • Politics and Government

    How America Can Help Re-Shape the Post-Soviet Countries

    For the post-Soviet states, development could bring better living standards and social conditions and promote more stable politics and inclusive governance. The West would make the most difference by focusing on mid-ranked states, especially those undertaking reforms.

    May 17, 2021

    The National Interest

  • Russia

    Will Russia's Risk-Aversion Keep It Away from Ukraine?

    Russia could blunder in Ukraine as Soviet rulers did in Afghanistan. Unlike then, however, a new Russian thrust into Ukraine could lead to early, heavy casualties. This could quickly bring home to the Kremlin the political costs of any incursion.

    Apr 28, 2021

    RealClearWorld

  • Russia

    The Biden-Putin Summit: Do the Risks Outweigh the Potential Rewards?

    President Biden has proposed that the United States and Russia hold a summit in the coming months. If that happens, major gains may be out of reach at first. Some progress might be possible, but the risks may be greater than at most previous summits.

    Apr 27, 2021

    The Hill

  • Russia

    Alexei Navalny Has Become a Profile in Courage. This Puts the Kremlin in a Quandary

    Prolonging Alexei Navalny's imprisonment, attempting to murder him—or actually succeeding—would only galvanize his supporters. And releasing him could be viewed as a victory for the opposition, making the Kremlin look weak.

    Feb 2, 2021

    Los Angeles Times

  • Russia

    Russia's Great Wall

    China built a wall to protect against foreign invaders, but Russia is erecting a barrier that could weaken its position. Moscow's pressure on neighbors has spurred NATO to bolster its presence in Russia's immediate vicinity.

    Jan 25, 2021

    The Hill

  • Arms Proliferation and Control

    Arms Control Held Hostage

    President-elect Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin have wisely promised to extend the 2010 New START Treaty, which cuts long-range nuclear arms. The two leaders may also pursue a broader follow-on accord, but frigid U.S.-Russian relations could put this out of reach. Progress on arms control often comes when political winds are warmer.

    Dec 28, 2020

    The Hill

  • Satellites

    How to Avoid a Space Arms Race

    Some 70 countries and multinational organizations own or operate satellites and there are plans for many more. Multilateral cooperative efforts could help set a foundation for the adoption of transparency and confidence measures that offer realistic hope of reducing risks and protecting freedom of access to space for all nations.

    Oct 26, 2020

    The Hill

  • Russia

    Belarusian Mortgage on Russia's Future

    In September, President Vladimir Putin signaled that Russia was throwing its weight behind embattled Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. But any move to enforce Putin's will in Belarus could invite tougher Western sanctions and scare investors. This would exacerbate problems facing Russia's flagging economy.

    Oct 5, 2020

    The Moscow Times

  • Georgia (country)

    Georgia: From COVID-19 to a Critical Test of Democracy

    Georgia has successfully dealt with the COVID-19 outbreak but now must meet the task of conducting free, fair, and transparent parliamentary elections on October 31 and dealing with the economic impacts of the pandemic.

    Sep 23, 2020

    The National Interest

  • Belarus

    The West's Role in Belarus

    Belarus may be on the verge of political change. If allowed to help, how could the West support free and fair elections and the formation of a legitimate government?

    Aug 18, 2020

    RealClearWorld

  • Russia

    Has Congress Captured Russia Policy?

    A Washington axiom is that the president writes foreign policy and Congress only edits it. But in recent years Congress has shown more initiative, as in expanding sanctions, shifting U.S. forces closer to Russia and promoting human rights. Under the next president, is Congress likely to retain this lead?

    Aug 17, 2020

    The Hill

  • Nuclear Deterrence

    Negotiating with Great Powers on Nuclear Arms

    New START, the U.S.-Russia arms control treaty, expires in February 2021. Washington insists that any follow-on accord must include China. But overcoming Beijing's reticence to engage in nuclear talks will likely take deft diplomacy, time, and patience.

    Aug 3, 2020

    RealClearDefense

  • Security Cooperation

    Can America Weaken the Russia-Iran Axis?

    America's slow-motion retreat in Syria could embolden Iran and Russia and perhaps lead them to underestimate U.S. resolve to protect its interests in the Middle East. Clearer U.S. priorities and more deliberate engagement could reduce risk and help avoid miscalculation.

    Jul 31, 2020

    Newsweek

  • Russia

    Russia Is Eyeing the Mediterranean. The U.S. and NATO Must Be Prepared

    Russia is seeking more access and freedom of movement in the Mediterranean region, and is bolstering its military footprint to achieve this objective. The United States and NATO could respond by developing a more robust southern strategy, with a reinforced air and naval presence, respectively.

    Jun 30, 2020

    Newsweek

  • Nuclear Weapons and Warfare

    Nuclear Testing Not Needed Now

    Trump administration officials are reported to have recently discussed conducting a nuclear test, breaking a moratorium the United States has observed since 1992. Such a move is not necessary to ensure the reliability of the U.S. arsenal and could increase threats to U.S. and allied security by giving a green light to others to conduct nuclear tests.

    Jun 11, 2020

    Newsweek

  • Russia

    Russia's Challenge and Syria's Chance

    With much of Syria lying in ruins, Russia can back a revived United Nations–led peacemaking process, or see the West rebuff its appeals for large-scale aid. If Russia chooses wisely, the West, wealthy Gulf countries, and China could help. If Moscow procrastinates, the West may withhold assistance and continue cooperation with regional partners.

    May 20, 2020

    Newsweek

  • Russia

    Why Russia Struggles to Feed Its Great-Power Addiction

    Russia has become less cooperative and pursued more autarky in recent years. If Moscow continues this path of resisting globalization, it could be left behind.

    May 11, 2020

    The National Interest

  • Political Reform Movements

    COVID-19 Crisis Could Spur Post-Soviet Fixes

    Much of the post-Soviet space remains afflicted with authoritarian rule, inefficient economies, corruption, and regional tensions. The COVID-19 crisis could prod countries to address key issues, but they will need help. Targeted Western aid could help willing countries make progress.

    May 8, 2020

    The Moscow Times

  • Nuclear Disarmament

    New START Is Not NAFTA

    The 2010 New START Treaty with Russia reduces long-range nuclear arms. President Trump may seek a different deal, however, as he did in renegotiating NAFTA. But NAFTA talks succeeded because America had predominant leverage and because Canada and Mexico are friends. Neither holds true with Russia.

    Apr 8, 2020

    The Hill

  • Russia

    Russia's Ties with the West Rhyme

    With Vladimir Putin seeking constitutional changes that could allow him to stay as president until the 2030s, Russia's strained relations with the West may persist. But if it chooses, Russia can chart a more dynamic future with closer Western ties.

    Mar 23, 2020

    The Hill

  • Russia

    Wake-Up Call for Russia

    Deteriorating living standards have put Russians on edge, and fears of economic stagnation have risen. Russia has the capacity to do better. So why is the economy stagnating?

    Mar 9, 2020

    The Hill

  • Nuclear Deterrence

    Stabilizing the Nuclear Cold War

    Russia and the United States are still locked in a nuclear cold war. Thousands of nuclear weapons are deployed, some on high alert. Although the United States prudently withdrew from several past arms control treaties with Russia, it could be in America's interest to extend New START.

    Feb 13, 2020

    Inkstick

  • Nuclear Deterrence

    Return of Nuclear Doomsday

    Elder statesmen are again warning of nuclear dangers. But have they risen? Maybe, but they remain only faint echoes of Cold War era risks, creating an opportunity to deliberately and carefully take steps to avoid future risks.

    Dec 12, 2019

    The Hill

  • Georgia (country)

    Whither Georgia?

    Georgia's status as a post-Soviet democratic leader is under challenge. A flawed presidential election, use of force against protesters, and political manipulations have strained public confidence and brought mounting public protests. Domestic calm may hinge on improving political dialogue and conducting free and fair parliamentary elections next year.

    Dec 9, 2019

    The National Interest

  • Syria

    Russia's Risky Game Plan for Syria

    It will take time to assess the extent to which Russia has “won“ in Syria. Absent a peaceful end to the conflict and an infusion of large-scale Western aid, downside risks for Russia could take some of the bloom off of its rose in Syria.

    Oct 29, 2019

    The National Interest

  • How Can the United States Support Democracies in the Former USSR?

    The West has only modest capacity to influence circumstances in most post-Soviet countries. In Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia and Moldova, however, the West has the potential to make a real difference by supporting civil society and improved governance.

    Sep 16, 2019

    The National Interest

  • International Diplomacy

    Reagan's Cold War Lessons for Handling Russia

    Rising public protests in Russia may be putting the Kremlin on the defensive at home. But Moscow is playing offense abroad, challenging the West more than at any time since Ronald Reagan's presidency. Reagan's strategy to counter the Kremlin back then offers insights that could help guide U.S. policy today.

    Aug 9, 2019

    RealClearWorld

  • A Democratic Spring Could Be Stirring in Eurasia. The West's Quiet Support Can Help

    An incipient Eurasian “democratic spring” may not yet be on the horizon, but political awareness and civil society are gaining ground. The West could contribute by continuing to help to fill information vacuums, and by offering training and support for nurturing civil society, conducting free and fair elections, and developing competitive politics.

    Jun 13, 2019

    Newsweek

  • Russia

    Mueller Report May Result in Russian Sanctions but Not Better Behavior

    The Mueller report could help mobilize political pressure in the United States for a stronger posture toward Russian activities that harm American and allied interests. But the Kremlin will likely still see propaganda, disinformation, and subterfuge as useful tools to undermine America's values and cohesion.

    Apr 26, 2019

    The Hill

  • Russia

    Russia Chooses Paupers as Partners, with Questionable Benefit

    By leveraging the efficiencies of globalization and cultivating ties with prosperous partners, Russia could increase its economic potential and improve living standards for its people. And by engaging more positively with the world, it could gain influence in the forums that matter, such as the G20 and multilateral institutions.

    Feb 14, 2019

    Newsweek

  • Democratic Bright Spots in the South Caucasus

    Democratic bright spots are emerging in Armenia and Georgia despite their being wedged between less-than-democratic regional powers. Both countries seek to consolidate democratic gains and overcome poverty while managing daunting challenges from Russia and separatist conflicts. While pursuing these priorities, the countries deserve continued, strong Western support.

    Jan 23, 2019

    The National Interest

  • Peacekeeping and Stability Operations

    America's Absence Could Be Syria's New Nightmare

    President Trump's decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria reverses his administration's recent policy of retaining them as long as Iranian troops stay. U.S. withdrawal would give Bashar al-Assad, Iran, and Russia freer rein to subdue opposition forces. And Assad could feel emboldened to act with greater impunity and brutality.

    Jan 10, 2019

    The National Interest

  • Russia

    In Venezuela, a Potential U.S.-Russian Crisis?

    In December, two supersonic nuclear-capable Russian bombers visited Venezuela, the third such excursion for the warplanes since 2008. Might Moscow intend to pose a threat, perhaps even nuclear, to the Western Hemisphere? If so, how could Washington respond?

    Jan 8, 2019

    The Hill

  • Russia

    No Russian Let-Up on Ukraine

    Moscow's seizure of Crimea and war in eastern Ukraine have led the West to sanction Russians and expand aid to Ukraine, and NATO to shift land and air forces eastward. Expanded Russian coercion may draw more NATO naval power closer to Russia’s shores and lead to tougher sanctions.

    Dec 7, 2018

    Fox News Channel

  • Arms Proliferation and Control

    Congress Can Save Arms Control

    The Trump administration is seeking agreements with North Korea and Iran to eliminate their nuclear arms potential. Success may hinge on cooperation between the White House and Congress.

    Nov 27, 2018

    The Hill

  • International Diplomacy

    Effective Responses to Russian Misbehavior

    Sanctions on Russians can be a powerful and effective tool, but in some cases there is a risk of spillover damage to other United States interests. It is worth considering whether America's interests may be best served by ensuring that penalties applied to Russia for misbehavior hit home against those responsible for it.

    Nov 20, 2018

    The Moscow Times

  • Russia

    Russia's Neighbors Want Alternatives

    The longer Russia delays in improving relations with its neighbors, the more likely they will pursue alternative options. It is also likely that tensions will persist between those neighbors and Russia—and in Russia's relationship with the West. Efforts to ease that tension should be high on the list of Western priorities with Russia.

    Oct 4, 2018

    The National Interest

  • Russia

    Walking a Fine Line on Russian Sanctions

    The United States and its allies are increasingly frustrated over malign activities by Russia. This week the U.S. unveiled new sanctions, and is expected to impose even more in the future. But choosing sanctions requires care. Their purpose should be to penalize Russia for misbehavior, but not to isolate Russians.

    Aug 22, 2018

    Reuters

  • Information Operations

    Here's How Russia Will Try to Interfere in the 2018 Elections

    Russia will threaten U.S. midterm elections in November, although by how much is unclear. Moscow might be more restrained this year, but it could be wilier.

    Aug 14, 2018

    Fox News Channel

  • Russia

    Russia's Wars and Trump

    At the July 16 summit in Helsinki, President Trump might stress that the West will persist in imposing costs on Russia for current and any future malign interventions. At the same time, he could offer to work with Putin in the search for peace in Syria and Ukraine if Moscow were to decide to withdraw its forces.

    Jul 11, 2018

    The Hill

  • Russia

    Western Unity Is Best for Russian Summitry

    In preparing for his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Donald Trump could benefit from a coordinated Western approach toward Moscow as a prelude. Absent this, his hand will be seriously weakened.

    Jul 5, 2018

    The American Interest

  • International Diplomacy

    Trump and Putin Should Start Small at Helsinki Summit

    Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin will hold their first formal summit on July 16. Their agenda will likely include the main sources of strain in relations, but they might find it easier to make concrete progress if they start with lower-profile issues as Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan did at their first summit.

    Jul 2, 2018

    Reuters

  • International Diplomacy

    Six Lessons for Today from Past Summits

    To prepare for possible meetings with his North Korean and Russian counterparts, President Trump can learn lessons from decades of high-profile summits between U.S. presidents and Kremlin leaders.

    Jun 5, 2018

    Fox News Channel

  • Georgia (country)

    Where Is Georgia Headed?

    Since its renewed independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, Georgia has made steady progress toward full European and Euro-Atlantic integration, and stabilized relations with Russia. Continuing on this path is a key test of whether it is still possible for reforming former Soviet countries to integrate into the Euro-Atlantic community.

    May 23, 2018

    The National Interest

  • Security Cooperation

    How Russia's Blunders Abroad Have Galvanized Europe

    Russia overrates the efficacy of the military and underrates political and economic assets. Through this outdated prism the Kremlin sees Europe as America's weak sister. This miscalculation has led Russia repeatedly to err, as shown by decades of frustrated efforts to divide Europeans and split them from the U.S.

    May 10, 2018

    The Moscow Times

  • Russia

    Russia Chooses Autarchy—and Isolation—Over Cooperation

    Russia says it is ending a centuries-long quest to join the West and preparing for “100 years of geopolitical solitude.” If Russia goes this way it will be because of its own unwise policies, not a Western cold shoulder.

    May 7, 2018

    The Cipher Brief

  • Chemical Terrorism

    Arms Control Hostage to Skripal and Syria Attacks

    Two prominent poisoning assassination attempts and Kremlin denials of gas attacks by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad raise doubts about Moscow's commitment to the purposes of the Chemical Weapons Convention. Never has the future of negotiated arms control involving Russia been at greater risk.

    Apr 19, 2018

    RealClearDefense

  • Russia

    Moscow Is Going Too Far

    Russia has become more daring with the West with its retaliatory expulsions and may face a high price. An angered West could turn from expulsions to economic countermeasures.

    Apr 3, 2018

    The Hill

  • Russia

    Putin Can Learn from Gorbachev on How to Gain from Future U.S. Talks

    Vladimir Putin has won a flawed election to a fourth term as Russia's president, and Donald Trump has suggested the two will likely meet soon. For the Kremlin leader, however, a summit may draw shortcomings into sharper relief. If the two presidents meet, several key issues will await them.

    Mar 22, 2018

    The Hill

  • Russia

    Putin's Boasting About Nuclear Weapons Won't Help Him in the Russian Election

    In a March 1 address to the nation, Russian President Vladimir Putin evoked Soviet-era exaggeration, proclaiming barely feasible economic and social goals and boasting of nuclear arms that are unlikely to change the strategic balance. Continued exaggeration could sap public confidence in the legitimacy of Russia's ruling system and leaders.

    Mar 15, 2018

    Newsweek

  • Information Operations

    Free Lunches for Adversaries

    When leaders take actions that are unpopular with wide audiences, propagandists have it easy. While Western leaders should not make propaganda potential the primary factor when weighing policy decisions, neither should they wholly disregard the opportunities that unpopular policies will offer adversaries.

    Feb 13, 2018

    U.S. News & World Report

  • Iran's Efforts to Create Instability Abroad Have Led to Protests at Home

    Iran has spent billions of dollars in its quest to be a regional leader, but its main achievement has been to spark instability across a wide swath of the Middle East. Ordinary Iranians are struggling and protesters are urging a retreat from costly foreign fights and more aid at home.

    Jan 12, 2018

    The National Interest

  • Not All Russian Oligarchs Are Alike

    The U.S. Secretary of the Treasury must report to Congress the main “oligarchs” in Russia, judged by their closeness to the “regime” and net worth. This broad approach, not aimed at specific wrongdoers, poses several risks.

    Jan 8, 2018

    The Hill

  • International Trade Law

    Why Political Risks May Dampen World Economies in 2018

    The world economy has reached its strongest point since the global financial crisis a decade ago. But rising political risks may cloud prospects in 2018 and perhaps beyond.

    Jan 7, 2018

    Fox News Channel

  • Peacekeeping and Stability Operations

    Russia Trapped in Syria

    Russia alone can neither guarantee the future security of Syria nor mobilize the resources to enable it to recover and rebuild. Only by linking arms with the international community to edge out Iran, forge broader-based governance and spur economic growth can Russia hope to achieve lasting success in Syria.

    Dec 20, 2017

    The Cipher Brief

  • International Diplomacy

    Kremlin Untruths Boomerang

    The main sources of strain in Moscow's ties with the West are actions, such as Russia's aggression in Ukraine. But untruths add fuel to the fire and can provoke stronger Western reactions and impede the search for solutions.

    Dec 4, 2017

    RealClearWorld

  • International Diplomacy

    Europe's Hour Is Here

    Since World War II, the United States and the United Kingdom have played disproportionate roles in dealing with Russia. Now continental Europe must assume more of the burden in advancing Western values and interests with an unpredictable and at times unruly Moscow.

    Sep 16, 2017

    U.S. News & World Report

  • Georgia (country)

    Georgia Wants Reassurance That America Will Help Deter Russia

    Georgia is an emerging democracy in a difficult region with mainly authoritarian regimes nearby. To overcome severe challenges from Russian military occupation and economic weakness, it deserves sustained Western support.

    May 25, 2017

    The National Interest

  • International Diplomacy

    How the West Can Press Putin to Keep Assad in Order

    Moscow has achieved tactical successes in Syria, but without Western and regional help, its long-term strategic interests could be at risk. Denying strong evidence that the regime of Bashar al-Assad attacked civilians with sarin gas makes it harder for Moscow to obtain the Western and regional help it needs to secure its interests there.

    Apr 24, 2017

    Newsweek

  • Belarus: Between Russia and the West

    Public demonstrations in Minsk and across Russia hint that winds of political change and disillusionment with stagnation and corruption may be reaching both countries. Their leaders will blame the West, try to ride out the protests and, despite differences, will likely stick together.

    Mar 29, 2017

    The National Interest

  • International Diplomacy

    How Putin Ensnares

    President Vladimir Putin is Russia's charmer-in-chief, with years of experience in high-level diplomacy. As part of Russia's influence operations, Putin may seek to entice or suborn Western leaders. How might he try to win them over?

    Mar 18, 2017

    U.S. News & World Report

  • International Diplomacy

    How to Partner with Putin

    Improving relations with Russia is a worthy goal. President Donald Trump could seek to partner with Moscow on some issues, like North Korea, while keeping up heat on others, such as aggression in Ukraine.

    Mar 4, 2017

    U.S. News & World Report

  • Security Cooperation

    No Quick Fix with Russia

    A series of small steps is more likely to improve Western and Russian security than an attempt at a total reset. At the same time, sanctions against Russia over its actions in Ukraine, and NATO actions to reassure and protect allies, must continue.

    Jan 3, 2017

    U.S. News & World Report

  • International Diplomacy

    Can Trump Make a Deal with Putin?

    If executed properly, President-elect Trump's diplomacy could help reverse a destabilizing downward spiral in U.S.-Russian relations and create a vision of what normal relations might entail.

    Dec 5, 2016

    U.S. News & World Report

  • International Diplomacy

    Can Trump Really Do Deals with Vladimir Putin?

    Russia is a declining economic power whose foreign policy has led to isolation and criticism. But Putin may have an inflated sense of Russia's importance and expect one-sided U.S. concessions. If so, diplomacy could run into headwinds early in the Trump administration.

    Nov 21, 2016

    Newsweek

  • International Diplomacy

    Righting Relations With Russia

    Russia's current anti-Western stridency coincides with rising internal repression. That may limit what the next U.S. president can do to improve relations.

    Oct 31, 2016

    U.S. News & World Report

  • Syria

    Only the U.S. Can Save Syrians

    Washington must act soon to raise the costs of Syrian and Russian killing in Aleppo. Otherwise, the quarter-million people who live there could be in danger, and the Kremlin might think that it can mount further challenges to the West.

    Oct 6, 2016

    USA Today

  • Russia

    Russian Propaganda Is Pervasive, and America Is Behind the Power Curve in Countering It

    Even as Washington pursues cooperation with Moscow on Syria and other issues, America should expose Russia's obsession with propaganda and disinformation.

    Sep 13, 2016

    U.S. News & World Report

  • Russia

    The West Must Do Far More to Keep Putin at Bay

    Russia is more willing than the West to use military power, even though it has less of it. The West should reconsider whether its efforts to deter Russian military interference are enough.

    Aug 27, 2016

    Newsweek

  • Russia

    How to Counter Putin's Subversive War on the West

    Russian cybercrime, Olympics doping, and other active measures have one thing in common: Moscow admits no wrongdoing. These scandals exacerbate the frigid relations between Moscow and the West. Diplomacy sometimes works slowly, but it helps.

    Aug 1, 2016

    Newsweek

  • Russia

    Putin Is Trying to Bully Europe into Dropping Sanctions

    Seeking relief from Western sanctions, the Kremlin is waging a campaign of public distortion and intimidation to split Europe from America, and Europeans from each other. But many of its tactics are clumsy and self-defeating.

    Jun 11, 2016

    Newsweek

  • Russia

    Russia's Great Power Choice

    The Donbas occupation is straining Russia's economy, world power status, and relationship with the West. Only by pulling out of eastern Ukraine and reforming its economy can Russia gain broader acceptance and reach its potential as a great power.

    Jun 1, 2016

    U.S. News & World Report

  • Georgia (country)

    Georgia's Delicate Foreign Policy Dance

    Given the dangerous environment and the small size and relative military weakness of Georgia, it wisely pursues a good neighbor policy in all directions. Still, the country must improve its defense posture and for Georgia, the main security balancer is the United States.

    May 25, 2016

    The National Interest

  • Russia

    How Russia Undermines Nuclear Security

    Russian aggression in Ukraine and nuclear saber rattling are jeopardizing the very global nonproliferation efforts that this week's Nuclear Security Summit in Washington seeks to further. Moscow's actions deserve a stronger response than they have received.

    Apr 1, 2016

    The National Interest

  • Russia

    Russia's Great Power Future

    A penchant for zero-sum statecraft and coercing neighbors lessens Russia's stature. By cooperating more in the international arena, Russia could become a greater power.

    Mar 21, 2016

    Newsweek

  • Syria

    The West Should Accommodate Russia to Secure Peace with Assad in Syria

    Effective and enduring political settlements result from quid pro quos, not irrational pursuit of one-sided advantage. Recognizing that contending parties have legitimate interests in the complex Syria conflict could help bring an end to a destructive war in a volatile but vital region.

    Mar 18, 2016

    U.S. News & World Report

  • Security Cooperation

    Is a Syria Truce in Putin's Best Interest?

    Moscow remains ambivalent but the West and its Arab partners could improve cease-fire prospects in Syria. They will have to drive the peace process to maintain pressure for political accommodation and also do more to help the rebels they back avert a military imbalance.

    Feb 18, 2016

    Newsweek

  • Russia

    The Tide Is Going Out on Putin

    Russia is losing ground in domestic politics, economics, and foreign policy. It could take steps to strengthen its position, such as withdrawing from Ukraine, privatizing inefficient state enterprises, and improving the investment climate.

    Jan 25, 2016

    Newsweek

  • Nation Building

    Georgia Needs Support from the U.S. and the West

    Georgia is poised to make big changes to reinvigorate its democracy and economy, but it needs support to deter risks and advance progress. With one-fifth of its territory occupied by Russia and facing risks every day, Georgia needs more Western aid, including military training, technology, and defensive arms.

    Jan 5, 2016

    U.S. News & World Report

  • Syria

    Bosnia Was Hard, Syria Is Harder

    To find peace in Syria, cooperation among outside powers will be an essential first step. But before going forward, the great powers should soberly assess prospects for an enduring peace accord, as well as the resources required.

    Nov 16, 2015

    Foreign Policy Concepts

  • Russia

    Could the Russian Jet Crash in Egypt Prompt a Change of Direction for Putin and Russia?

    If ISIS was responsible for the downing of Metrojet Flight 9268, a Russian passenger jet, this may alter the strategic equation for Moscow.

    Nov 9, 2015

    Fox News Channel

  • Russia

    The West Needs to Take a Tougher Line with Putin

    By responding more robustly to Russia's interventions, the West could reduce military asymmetries in Ukraine and Syria and improve prospects for negotiated outcomes.

    Nov 1, 2015

    Newsweek

  • Russia

    What Is Putin Really Up to in Syria?

    Russia wants to be sure that it's not ignored if and when the West succeeds in implementing a broader, more effective solution to the Syria-Iraq-ISIL problem. This is a task far beyond Russia's capabilities, but one that America, the West, and regional powers may be able to accomplish.

    Oct 2, 2015

    Politico

  • Eurasia Facing Tough Choices for the Future

    There is much to be said for Eurasia's rich ethnic, national, religious, and cultural diversity. In the economic sphere, however, Eurasians should reassess bad habits, such as weak property rights, centralized state control, and associated corruption.

    Aug 13, 2015

    The Moscow Times

  • International Diplomacy

    It's Time to Reboot Our Relationship with Russia and Iran's Neighbors

    In implementing the prospective Iran nuclear agreement, the West cannot forget its engagement in the vulnerable South Caucasus. The Iran deal changes the equation for all three countries and perhaps opens new opportunities.

    Jul 28, 2015

    Newsweek

  • Iran

    Iran Deal or No Deal

    A U.S. rejection of the Iran nuclear agreement would send the wrong message, not only to Iran but also to America's closest allies, and it would not serve American interests in the region.

    Jul 22, 2015

    War on the Rocks

  • Russia

    Will Putin Gamble All on a Broader Ukraine Invasion?

    If the Kremlin is contemplating further action in Ukraine, it faces a tough choice. The decision could have an enduring impact on Russia's fortunes.

    May 26, 2015

    Newsweek

  • International Diplomacy

    How Durable Is the China-Russia 'Friendship?'

    Though China and Russia share key economic interests and oppose what they claim to be a U.S.-dominated world order, their relationship over time promises to be uneven and tense.

    May 13, 2015

    Reuters, The Great Debate blog

  • Ukraine Crisis Is a Geopolitical Game Changer

    Russia's aggression abroad and repression at home have altered the basic assumptions of earlier Western policy. By misjudging the tolerance for aggression in Europe, Moscow is bringing on the encirclement it fears. The West is now better prepared to deal with any further aggression and more confident that Ukraine's future will be as part of an enlarged Europe.

    Apr 17, 2015

    U.S. News & World Report

  • Russia

    The Next European Flashpoints

    The West's most pressing task is to help Ukraine defend itself and survive economic catastrophe. But the West also needs a broader strategy to discourage future Russian coercion of neighbors, help them protect themselves, and counter President Vladimir Putin's false narrative about Western intentions and lack of political will.

    Feb 17, 2015

    The National Interest

  • International Diplomacy

    RAND Experts Discuss the Options for Ukraine

    A cease-fire agreement could stop the fighting in Ukraine by Sunday. RAND experts William Courtney and Olga Oliker discuss what was accomplished during the summit in Minsk, whether the U.S. should arm Ukraine, and what other options exist for supporting Ukraine.

    Feb 12, 2015

  • Energy

    Can Eurasian Energy Compete?

    Cheaper oil, government interference, and market dynamics jeopardize the future of Russian and Caspian energy. To be globally competitive, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Turkmenistan should let the private sector play a greater role and make more decisions on commercial, rather than political grounds.

    Jan 16, 2015

    The National Interest

  • Russia

    How Russia Can Recover from Its Economic and Strategic Decline

    Few expect that Moscow will cede Crimea or end its opposition to NATO expansion anytime soon. But Russia can still begin to reverse its strategic decline. Expanding opportunities for Russia's people, reforming the economy, and improving relations with neighbors are the way forward.

    Dec 24, 2014

    U.S. News & World Report

  • Security Cooperation

    The Greatest Challenge to U.S.-European Security Cooperation Today: The Ukraine Crisis

    Germany and America are leading Western policy in addressing the Russia-Ukraine crisis. The basic strategy is to support Ukraine and pressure Moscow to halt aggression, while leaving the door open to diplomacy. Sustaining Western unity is essential, but may not be easy to achieve.

    Dec 8, 2014

    The National Interest

  • Georgia (country)

    Rough and Tumble of Building Democracy in Georgia

    Leadership squabbles and instincts for retribution are testing Georgia's democracy. If leaders do not come together to strengthen the political system and governance, Georgia's future could hang in the balance.

    Nov 26, 2014

    The Woodrow Wilson Center

  • Nuclear Deterrence

    Celebrating the Success of Project Sapphire

    Twenty years ago this week, the United States transported over 600 kilograms of at-risk, weapons-usable highly enriched uranium (HEU) from Kazakhstan to Oak Ridge, Tennessee, for safekeeping. Kazakhstan had the courage to trust its new relationship with the U.S. to help prevent the proliferation of dangerous material to countries that might seek to build nuclear weapons.

    Nov 21, 2014

    The National Interest

  • Ukraine

    Hitting the Pause Button: The 'Frozen Conflict' Dilemma in Ukraine

    Frozen conflicts describe places where fighting took place and has come to an end, yet no overall political solution, such as a peace treaty, has been reached. Ukraine is likely to host such conflicts for some time, in Crimea and the Donbas region. Georgia's experience offers lessons for Ukraine.

    Nov 7, 2014

    The National Interest

  • Russia

    One Day in the Life of Russia

    Russia faces major challenges, some self-inflicted. Freedoms vital to the creation of a modern civil society are declining. Dominant, state-controlled energy and aerospace companies are losing ground, weakening a strained economy. Russia's relationship with Europe, its most important economic partner and a cultural beacon, is fracturing.

    Sep 23, 2014

    The National Interest

  • Ukraine

    A Diplomatic Solution for Ukraine

    Despite uncertainty about Russian military plans and the outcome of Ukrainian operations against pro-Russian separatists, it's not too soon to consider how to lay the foundations for a negotiated solution. If Moscow were unwilling to reach a fair settlement, the West would have options to increase its leverage.

    Aug 27, 2014

    The National Interest