Khrystyna Holynska

Khrystyna Holynska
Assistant Policy Researcher, RAND, and Ph.D. Student, Pardee RAND Graduate School
Santa Monica Office


Ph.D. in political science, Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, Ukraine; MBA+MBAI in business administration, artificial intelligence and data analytics, Kyiv School of Economics, Ukraine; M.A. in political science, Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, Ukraine


Khrystyna Holynska is a Ph.D. student in the Research, Analysis, and Design stream at the Pardee RAND Graduate School and an assistant policy researcher at RAND. Her research interests include foreign, defense, and security policy; Ukraine; Russia; and Eastern Europe.

Holynska has a Ph.D. in political science from Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv and an M.B.A.+M.B.A.I. (business and management in artificial intelligence and data analytics) from the Kyiv School of Economics (KSE). Prior to joining Pardee RAND, she headed the defense and security policy research startup KSE StratBase and was an assistant professor of public policy and governance at KSE. Holynska was also a strategic analyst at The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies, where she focused on Russia's coercive behavior, nonproliferation, deterrence, the future of NATO, and geodynamics. From October 2022 to February 2023, she was a Research Associate at the Center for Global Security Research (CGSR) of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. In October 2023, she participated in the New Security Leaders Program of the Warsaw Security Forum.

Concurrent Non-RAND Positions

Selected Publications

Stephan De Spiegeleire, Karlijn Jans, Mischa Sibbel, Khrystyna Holynska, Deborah Lassche, "Implementing defence policy: a benchmark-“lite”," Defense & Security Analysis, 35(1), 2019

Stephan De Spiegeleire, Khrystyna Holynska, Yar Batoh, Tim Sweijs, Reimagining Deterrence: Towards Strategic (Dis)Suasion Design , Hague Centre for Strategic Studies, 2020

Yar Batoh and Khrystyna Holynska, "Assessing International Support of Ukraine Regarding Crimea," UA: Ukraine Analytica , 1(23), 2021

De Spiegeleire, Stephan, Yar Batoh, Daria Goriacheva, Glib Voloskyi, Khrystyna Holynska, et al., (Russian) Deterrence, we hardly know ye, , 2021

Khrystyna Holynska, Yar Batoh, Yevhen Sapolovych, Daria Goriacheva, Stephan De Spiegeleire, A Decade of Russian Cross-Domain Coercion Towards Ukraine: Letting the Data Speak, FREE Network Policy Brief, 2020

Stephan De Spiegeleire, Khrystyna Holynska, and Yevhen Sapolovych, Taking Russian Assertiveness Seriously: Letting the Data Speak, PONARS Eurasia Policy Memo, 2020


Ukrainian; Russian


  • Ukraine

    From Gatherer of Lands to Gravedigger: A Political Assessment of Putin's War on Ukraine

    Putin's war in Ukraine is already redefining the entire international order. If the United States acts now, it may be able to influence the shape of the post-war geopolitical terrain.

    Feb 13, 2023

    The RAND Blog

  • Nation Building

    Politics of Ukrainian Reconstruction

    When fighting subsides, Ukraine may undergo reconstruction on the scale of the post–World War II Marshall Plan. Debate is ramping up about core issues, such as the scope of reconstruction, sources of funding, and reforms needed for success. Ukraine and the West might begin now to forge consensus on these issues.

    Nov 30, 2022

    The Hill

  • Russia

    Understanding Russia's Motivations, and Using Them

    The concept of ontological security could help explain Putin's war on Ukraine and his regime's reasoning. It's about maintaining a continuous sense of self, and in this case, of state identity. Putin may have deemed the invasion necessary to maintain a sense of continuity and order, where order is Russia's continued adversarial relationship with the West.

    Aug 19, 2022


  • Nuclear Disarmament

    How Russia's Nuclear Double Cross of Ukraine Teaches Dangerous Lessons

    Since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the West's support for Kyiv has been tempered by an ace up Vladimir Putin's sleeve: the potential use of nuclear weapons. But other countries are taking notice, which could imperil world stability even further.

    Aug 16, 2022

    Breaking Defense

  • 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's Problems with Military Professionalization

    Even if Russia manages to take control of the territory of Ukraine, the Russian military's underlying problems with professionalization may handicap these occupiers in their efforts to maintain control over that country for the long-term.

    Mar 21, 2022

    Breaking Defense

  • 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