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

In Search of a Formula for Lasting Peace in Ukraine

In Search of a Formula for Lasting Peace in Ukraine

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

By: Katie Ruppert;  José Pascal da Rocha

As the war in Ukraine grinds to a stalemate, it is critical to begin building the peace and security frameworks that will establish a just and lasting peace for Ukraine and deter future Russian aggression. This includes building institutions that provide security guarantees for Kyiv.

Type: Analysis

Global Policy

Russia’s War on Moldova Will Be Political in 2024. And Then?

Russia’s War on Moldova Will Be Political in 2024. And Then?

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

By: James Rupert

As Ukraine defends its independence and democracy against Russia’s invasion, tiny Moldova confronts a parallel Russian “hybrid war” — and the past 12 weeks have sharpened this battle for Moldova in 2024. Moldova advanced its accession to the European Union and joined EU sanctions against Russians driving the war on Ukraine. Moldova’s government scheduled a referendum to ratify the country’s future as a European democracy after more than 150 years as a militarized frontier of Russian empires. Russia’s malign uses of information, election interference and capacity to trigger a real war — a second front against Europe — heighten the urgency to strengthen Moldova’s resilience and energize its pro-democracy constituency in 2024.

Type: Analysis

Democracy & GovernanceGlobal Policy

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