Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 threatened Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and has expanded into a conflict on a scale unseen in Europe since World War II, with Vladimir Putin’s rule central to rising global threats to peace and stability. Focusing on Russia and Ukraine and working closely with the Institute’s China program, USIP’s Russia and Europe Center, established in 2020, provides research and analysis on the growing impact of these dangers. The center makes recommendations to the U.S. government regarding Russia’s challenge to the rules-based international order and conducts specialized work on Track 2 dialogues to promote eventual reconciliation and reconstruction. The center also hopes to begin a program to combat gender-based violence in the region.

The Center leads the Institute’s long-standing engagements on:

Strategic Stability

This program seeks to advance strategic stability at a time of flux in the international system — with heightened tensions between Washington and Moscow, the emergence of China and return of great power competition more generally, and the development of new lethal high technology and cyber weapons unregulated by the traditional arms control architecture. Overt Russian nuclear threats in the early days of its invasion of Ukraine have underscored the importance of such an effort and highlighted the need for a renewed focus on these issues. At present, the center analyzes the impact of nuclear, space, hypersonic and other emerging technologies. Working closely with the USIP Asia team, we also examine whether and how to include China in appropriate elements of an updated arms control regime.

Russia’s Role in International Conflict

In 2021, USIP established a program to analyze Russian kinetic and non-kinetic efforts to expand its influence through military operations, sowing disinformation through mass and social media, undermining democratic electoral processes, and fostering corruption. This program aims to better understand how Russia works to destabilize neighboring states — as well as weaker or fragile states in the Middle East, Africa and the Western Hemisphere — and provide avenues for reducing those risks and strengthening those countries’ resilience. Drawing upon USIP’s deep involvement in many regions where Russia is active, the center is developing a robust set of tools and a methodology to identify and assess the levels of Russian involvement in USIP-priority countries and violence-afflicted states, to examine the most effective ways these countries can counter Russian influence, and to deter conflict. The center pays particular attention to how the war in Ukraine, the erosion of the Russian economy as a result of the war and Western sanctions alter the Kremlin’s practice of such activities overseas, especially in Africa and the South Caucasus.

Seeking Peace in Ukraine

Since 2017, this program has offered independent analysis and used its specialized capacity for unofficial dialogue to strengthen options for a peaceful resolution of the Russia-led conflict in Ukraine’s Donbas region. In 2021-2022, the Institute partnered with Ukrainian organizations to conduct a dialogue between communities across the front line of the war. This project is built on local relationships and experience in reconciliation that will be critical for the success of any eventual peace accord.

Since the renewed Russian invasion in February 2022, the center has been leading expert working groups to provide recommendations for an end to the war. We will also convene a working group to examine the current European security architecture now under threat, consider the factors that have shaped it, and explore opportunities for new structures and processes to prevent, mitigate and resolve future conflict in Europe. Meanwhile, the center is collaborating with relevant USIP units, external partners and the United Nation on reconstruction and accountability for war crimes. We will continue working with Ukrainian NGOs to strengthen dialogue between communities and displaced persons to foster reconciliation and reconstruction.

Current Projects

The Current Situation in Ukraine

The Current Situation in Ukraine

Russia’s massive assault on an independent Ukraine menaces not only Eastern Europe, but the human effort, since World War II, to build global peace through the international rule of law. USIP provides analysis and support for policies that can help sustain the democracy, dialogue and diplomacy that will be required to ultimately defeat this threat.

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Featured Publications

China, Russia See SCO at Counterweight to NATO but India Is Ambivalent

China, Russia See SCO at Counterweight to NATO but India Is Ambivalent

Thursday, July 11, 2024

A week ahead of the NATO summit in Washington, leaders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) gathered in Astana, Kazakhstan for the group’s annual meeting. Already one of the world’s largest regional organizations, the SCO added Belarus to the bloc at this year’s summit. Established by China and Russia in 2001, the SCO was originally focused on security and economic issues in Central Asia. But amid growing division and competition with the West, Beijing and Moscow increasingly position the growing bloc as a platform to promote an alternative to the U.S.-led order. Still, the organization’s expansion has been met with friction by some members.

Type: Analysis

Global Policy

NATO at 75: Time for Celebration — and Sobriety

NATO at 75: Time for Celebration — and Sobriety

Monday, July 8, 2024

Leaders from across Europe and North America will gather in July in Washington to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The meeting will be a chance to celebrate NATO’s accomplishments as an alliance as well as the improvements it has made since the start of the Ukraine war. But it should also be a gut-check on the real state of NATO capabilities at a time of renewed geopolitical rivalry and attendant mounting dangers worldwide. A strong NATO is as essential for U.S. national security and international peace today as it was 75 years ago. But we have a long way to go before NATO can live up to its full potential in the turbulent new era that is unfolding.

Type: Analysis

Global Policy

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