Dara Massicot

Dara Massicot
Senior Policy Researcher
Off Site Office


M.A. in national security and strategic studies, U.S. Naval War College ; B.A. in Russian language and literature, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; B.A. in peace, war, and defense, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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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Dara Massicot is a senior policy researcher at the RAND Corporation. Before joining RAND, she served as a senior analyst for Russian military capabilities at the Department of Defense.  

Her work at RAND focuses on defense and security issues in Russia and Eurasia. She specializes in Russian military strategy, combat operations, and escalation dynamics. Her long-term interests include force posture, force planning, and grand strategy. 

Massicot received her M.A. in national security and strategic studies from the U.S. Naval War College's College of Naval Command and Staff in Newport, Rhode Island.

Recent Projects

  • The Russian Way of Warfare
  • A New Approach to Conventional Arms Control in Europe: Addressing the Security Challenges of the 21st Century
  • The Future of the Russian Military: Russia's Ground Combat Capabilities and Implications for U.S.-Russia Competition
  • Russia's Limit of Advance: Analysis of Russian Ground Force Deployment Capabilities and Limitations
  • Russian Grand Strategy: Rhetoric and Reality

Selected Publications

Edward Geist and Dara Massicot, "Understanding Putin's Nuclear 'Superweapons' ," SAIS Review of International Affairs

Dara Massicot, "Anticipating a New Russian Military Doctrine in 2020: What it Might Contain and Why it Matters," War on the Rocks, 2019

Dara Massicot, "Ukraine Needs Help Surviving Airstrikes, Not Just Killing Tanks," Defense One, 2022

Dara Massicot, "Lengthening the Bridge: the Role of Current Weapons and Emerging Technologies in expanding the Pre-nuclear Phase of Conflict ," NATO Defense College , 2021



Recent Media Appearances

Interviews: BBC Radio; BBC World Service; Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; CNN; C-SPAN, Washington Journal; euroenews; Foreign Affairs; Foreign Policy; Geopolitics Decanted by Silverado; MSNBC, Morning Joe; New York Magazine; NPR, All Things Considered; NPR, Morning Edition; PBS, NewsHour; Radio Free Europe; Times Radio, UK; War on the Rocks; The World, Public Radio; Voice of America; WBUR.org (Boston), Here and Now; WHYY News


  • Russia

    All Is Not Well on Russian Front Lines

    For now, despite the Kremlin's dysfunctional decisions, Russia's defensive positions in Ukraine are still secure. But for how long? The cumulative pressure of bad choices is mounting and the problems endemic to Russia's campaign in Ukraine are likely to worsen.

    Jul 19, 2023

    New York Times

  • Military Personnel Retention

    The Russian Military's Looming Personnel Crises of Retention and Veteran Mental Heath

    Russia's looming troop-retention and veteran-treatment problems are already visible on the horizon, even though they have been delayed by policy. By invading Ukraine, Russia has created a wave of severe trauma that will soon crash over its own country.

    Jun 1, 2023

    The Economist

  • Russia

    Russian Troops Know How Little They Mean to Putin

    Over the past year, the Russian military has sustained staggering losses—over 100,000 casualties, thousands of pieces of armored equipment, and several squadrons of fighter jets and helicopters. But Russia isn't stopping. Newly mobilized Russian troops, knowing they are being used as cannon fodder, have made public appeals to be spared.

    Feb 23, 2023

    New York 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

  • Russia

    Why Vladimir Putin Is Likely to Be Disappointed

    None of the Kremlin's recent gambits—annexation, mobilization or personnel shuffles—can overcome the larger problems facing Russia's military. And in the months ahead, its difficulties will only worsen.

    Oct 18, 2022

    New York Times

  • Russia

    Russian Forces in Ukraine: Muddling Through

    The Russian armed forces have suffered tens of thousands of casualties and lost more than 5,000 pieces of equipment. These deficits will make it hard for Russia to hold regions in Ukraine that it may soon try to annex. To succeed, Moscow will have to replenish personnel and equipment at scale—tasks that will prove extremely difficult.

    Aug 15, 2022

    Foreign Affairs

  • Russia

    Russia's Ambitions and the War in Ukraine: Q&A with Dara Massicot

    Dara Massicot is a senior policy researcher at RAND who specializes in Russian military strategy. In this interview, she discusses Russia's war in Ukraine, its incorrect assumptions about Ukraine's will to fight, and how hard it's going to be for Russia to restore its military capabilities.

    Jun 29, 2022

  • Military Personnel

    The Russian Military Has Failed Its Sons

    The Russian military has a long history of mistreating its personnel and their frightened families. The military's culture of disregard for the lives and well-being of its personnel has done more than undermine their combat performance; it has also tanked their morale and will to fight.

    May 18, 2022

    Foreign Affairs

  • Ukraine

    Ukraine Needs Help Surviving Airstrikes, Not Just Killing Tanks

    A Russian large-scale multidomain operation would be devastating for the Ukrainian military and people, and Ukraine should work to prevent that. But steps can also be taken to reduce the effects of the air and missile strikes that would likely lead off such an operation.

    Jan 19, 2022

    Defense One

  • 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

  • Military Doctrine

    Anticipating a New Russian Military Doctrine in 2020: What It Might Contain and Why It Matters

    The United States and its allies should anticipate the possibility of an updated Russian military doctrine as early as 2020. Evaluating this document closely is important for understanding Russian threat perceptions and the leadership's methods to address those threats.

    Sep 9, 2019

    War on the Rocks