In the 1990s, after the breakup of the USSR, the West adapted to and helpfully influenced the birth of 15 new republics. If liberalizing change comes anew, the West may seek to help Russia heal itself for the long term.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The authors examine how Russia assesses and applies the correlation of forces and means -- the military balance between two opponents at the global, regional, and local levels -- and outline recent relevant developments in Russian military thought.
Russia has used hostile measures to sow disorder, weaken democratic institutions, and undermine NATO cohesion. But it also has a long track record of strategic shortfalls and even ineptitude. Exploring opportunities to deter, prevent, and counter Russia's behavior is critical in both the gray zone and conventional war.
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.
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.
It has become increasingly common for observers of world affairs to contend that the United States and China have either entered into or are poised to embark on a new Cold War. While the contours of a long-term contest between Washington and Beijing are undoubtedly forming, especially in the economic realm, the analogy is problematic.
Russia uses social media in nearby states to sow dissent against neighboring governments and NATO. Options for countering the Kremlin's campaign include tracking and blocking propaganda more quickly and offering alternative content to help displace the Russian narrative.
Anthropologist Margaret Mead studied Russian culture and attitudes toward authority while at RAND from 1948 to 1950. To accomplish what she called “culture cracking,” Mead looked to Russian emigres, books, journals, archives, and films since the Soviet Union was inaccessible.
Russian military modernization raises concerns about the Intelligence Community's (IC's) ability to warn of Russian aggression, particularly on NATO's eastern flank. Using themes from past events, the report makes recommendations to improve warning.
Religion is a visible force in the sociopolitical life of post-Soviet countries. Understanding how religion has contributed to peace or tensions in the region could inform policymakers and others working to bring stability to the former Soviet republics.
Is Pyongyang more like modern Islamabad or Soviet Moscow? The answer must draw on the expertise of scholars of civil-military relations as well as nuclear strategy. Even then analogy is only a starting point—North Korea may be more or less like previous cases, but will certainly be unique.
Jeremy Azrael was an expert on the Russian economy who devoted his career to promoting better understanding between the U.S. and the former Soviet Union. A scholarship in his name supports a first-year Pardee RAND Graduate School student from a former Soviet state.
The Internet has become a new battleground between governments that censor online content and those who advocate freedom to browse, post, and share information online. What are the implications of Internet freedom for state-society relations in nondemocratic regimes?
An overview of Soviet efforts to improve and facilitate the training and development of Afghan security forces from 1920 to 1989 can inform U.S. and allied forces' current approaches to planning and operating with Afghan forces and overcoming cultural challenges.