Russia's conflict with Georgia in August 2008 drew worldwide attention to the re-emergence of conflict in Russia’s near abroad. Moscow’s concerns about missile defense in Eastern Europe along with Russian attempts to gain greater shares of the energy market in Europe and beyond, have also highlighted Russia’s role as a key player whose interests intersect with US national security. Russia also continues to remain a staging area for cyber attacks worldwide. In this sub-section, the Critical Threats Project explores these and other issues in several in-depth pieces.


Understanding Russia Today: Russia's Many Revisions

By Frederick W. Kagan, December 19, 2016

Russia is on a collision course with the West. War is not inevitable. Confrontation and conflict are. The sources of hostility are primarily within Russia. They transcend the aims of Vladimir Putin, but spring rather from fundamental problems created during the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Putin Sets the Stage for the Incoming U.S. Administration

Putin aims to present the incoming U.S. administration with the false dichotomy of partnering with Russia and allowing Putin to operate with impunity or going to war.

What's in a Name? Putin's Ominous Vision for Russia

By Frederick W. Kagan,, July 13, 2016

Vladimir Putin famously called the collapse of the Soviet Union the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th Century. The good news is that he isn’t rebuilding the Soviet Union.

What the Russian 'withdrawal' from Syria really means

By Frederick W. Kagan,, March 16, 2016

Putin's just-announced “withdrawal” serves political, military operational, diplomatic, and possibly strategic purposes, but its actual significance for operations in Syria is minimal. Its significance for the long-term correlation of forces in the Mediterranean, however, is dire.

Translation: Transcript of Putin's Meeting with Sergei Lavrov and Sergei Shoigu

By Frederick W. Kagan, March 15, 2016

Vladimir Putin held a meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov and Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu to discuss Russia's involvement in Syria. A translation of the transcript follows.

The new Cold War in the Mediterranean

Russia is already winning a new Cold War in the Mediterranean by re-establishing a permanent air and naval base on the Syrian coast under the guise of helping Bashar Assad fight terrorism.

The Russo-Iranian Military Coalition in Syria may be Deepening

The Russo-Iranian military coalition in Syria may be deeper than many have believed. The Iranian armed forces appear to be allowing Russian aircraft to use their military airfields in support of combat operations over Syria.

Russo-Turkish Tensions Since the Start of the Russian Air Campaign

By Frederick W. Kagan, November 24, 2015

Russia and Turkey have long been at odds over Syria, with Moscow backing President Bashar al Assad and Ankara supporting the opposition to overthrow him. Tensions increased dramatically with the start of the Russian air campaign on September 30.

It's Mad to Forgo Missile Defense

By Frederick W. Kagan, Strategika, October 30, 2015

The nuclear agreement with Iran heightens the urgency of missile defense because of the way the Iranians have interpreted the deal. Yet the legacy suspicion of missile defense continues to paralyze the U.S.

Putin Ushers In A New Era of Global Geopolitics

The positioning of Russian aircraft in Syria gives the Kremlin an ability to shape and control U.S. and Western operations in both Syria and Iraq out of all proportion to the size of the Russian force.