Bilyana Lilly

Photo of Bilyana Lilly
Assistant Policy Researcher, Ph.D. Candidate, Pardee RAND Graduate School
Santa Monica Office


M.Sc. in Russian and East European studies, University of Oxford; M.A. in international affairs, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID) Switzerland; B.A. in international politics and history, Jacobs University, Germany


Bilyana Lilly is a Ph.D. student at Pardee RAND Graduate School and an assistant policy researcher at RAND. She specializes in national and transnational security issues in Russia, Europe, and the U.S., including cybersecurity, NATO, defense strategy, security cooperation, missile defense, and deterrence.

Prior to joining Pardee RAND, Lilly was an associate at the Brookings Institution where she focused on U.S. security strategy, NATO’s policy toward emerging powers, and populism in Europe. She also worked at the Eurasia Foundation in Washington, D.C., where she designed project monitoring and evaluation frameworks, and assessed the effectiveness of development projects in Russia. She is the author of the book Russian Foreign Policy Toward Missile Defense: Actors, Motivations, and Influence, which contains information from talks that Lilly conducted with Russia’s deputy defense minister and deputy minister of foreign affairs.

Lilly has master’s degrees in Russian and East European studies from Oxford University (summa cum laude) and in international affairs from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Switzerland.

Recent Projects

  • State and Local Cybersecurity Operations
  • 21st Century Deterrence
  • Systems Analysis in Support of USEUCOM

Selected Publications

Bilyana Lilly, Russian Foreign Policy toward Missile Defense: Actors, Motivations, and Influence, Lexington Books, Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, 2014

Bilyana Lilly, "Global Development Baton Passes from MDGs to SDGs," The Washington Diplomat, 2015

Bilyana Lilly, "How Putin Uses Missile Defense in Europe to Distract Russian Voters," NATO Review, 2015

Bilyana Lilly and Jeremy Shapiro, "Sovereignty’s Revenge: The Power of Populism in the European Union," Order from Chaos, a Brookings Institution blog, 2015

Sale Lilly and Bilyana Lilly, "Punish Russia & Revolutionize NATO’s Navy," Real Clear Defense, 2014

Bilyana Lilly, "Disproving a Conventional Wisdom: Why Nuclear Terrorism Originating from Russia is a Myth," Security Index, 16(3), 2010

11th International Conference on Cyber Conflict, Applying Indications & Warning Frameworks to Cyber Incidents, NATO CCD COE Publications, Tallinn, 2019

Honors & Awards

  • Distinction by the examiners in Russian studies, University of Oxford
  • Kathryn Davis Fellowship for Peace for the study of Russian, Middlebury College, VT
  • Oxford Jenkins Memorial Scholarship, University of Oxford


Russian; Bulgarian; French


  • Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko walk to watch the closing stage of the joint war games Zapad-2013 (West-2013) at the Gozhsky firing range in Grodno, September 26, 2013

    Joint Military Exercises Distract from Complex Russia-Belarus Relationship

    Analysts and military leaders have concerns that Russia will use the Zapad 2017 exercise in Belarus as a smokescreen to put personnel and equipment in place, and keep it there. But the deep ties and history of cooperation between the two states make the chances of that happening unlikely.

    Sep 13, 2017 The National Interest