The U.S. Institute of Peace’s Office of Strategic Stability and Security was established in 2020 to provide research and analysis on the growing impact of global powers on peace and stability. Housing USIP’s Russia program, and with plans to work closely with the Institute’s China program, the office convenes experts and local actors to develop an understanding of how the reemergence of major power competition is shaping the prospects for peace—with a special focus on Ukraine.

The office seeks to understand the role of military, diplomatic, and economic activities of major powers in fragile regions and countries and to build local capacity and awareness around these issues. The office will focus on emerging, collective issues such as arms control and strategic stability. Where possible, the office seeks to build transparency among local, regional, and global actors to advance peace and avoid confrontations between major powers.

Gorbachev and Reagan
President Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Gorbachev signing the INF Treaty in the East Room of the White House. December 8, 1987

The Office of Strategic Stability and Security is engaged in the following efforts:

Arms Control and Strategic Stability

The office seeks to strengthen arms control and strategic stability among the world’s most powerful nuclear-armed states. A confluence of factors is weakening the safeguards that have helped to secure the world against nuclear war for decades. Cold War-era arms agreements are deteriorating while accelerating technological advances have enabled the use of new cybernetic and hybrid weapons. These changes threaten strategic stability and have created the need for new concepts of arms control—an issue that was at the center of USIP’s initial years of work during the Cold War. The office works to examine these challenges and to develop new concepts for peacebuilding. USIP’s expertise and experience—in facilitating unofficial dialogues, in research and analysis with U.S. government partners on strategic stability problems, and in productive dialogue with Russian interlocutors—enable the Institute to equip policymakers with the tools to preserve a stable and peaceful world.

Russia’s Role in Fragile Countries

The office leverages its expertise and convening power to examine Russia’s impact on conflict dynamics in USIP-priority countries and other states worldwide, with the goal of advancing research and providing policy recommendations to the U.S. government and other relevant actors, as well as on-the-ground experts and local authorities. This work improves the prospects for peace through transparency and dialogue in USIP-priority countries. In conjunction, the office works with USIP’s extensive regional programs to build the capacity of local policymakers and civil society to acquire the tools, knowledge, and resources needed to avoid or manage conflict.

Ukraine’s Peace Process

Russia’s illegal attempt to annex Crimea in 2014 and its ongoing military intervention in Ukraine’s eastern oblasts of Donetsk and Luhansk—which has killed over 14,000 Ukrainians and counting—represent the gravest challenges yet to the order that has kept the peace in Europe among major powers since World War II. The international community has been trying to resolve the war, but to no avail thus far. The office will seek solutions to this conflict through unofficial dialogues, both at the senior level among former policymakers from Russia and Ukraine and at the citizen level among Ukrainians on both sides of the line of contact in Donbas.

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As Russia Bars Democracy in Belarus, Risks Will Rise

As Russia Bars Democracy in Belarus, Risks Will Rise

Thursday, October 8, 2020

By: Dr. Donald N. Jensen

As people in Belarus continue massive protests against an autocratic ruler and a rigged election, risks are rising that Russia’s military could take a direct role, less visible than an overt invasion, projecting power westward toward NATO and threatening Ukraine from the north. The dramatic images of this prodemocracy movement resemble those from neighboring Ukraine, yet one difference is critical. The Belarus uprising seeks no sharp break from Russia or turn toward the European Union or NATO. So effective policies to advance Belarusians’ democratic hopes should work for the long term.

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Don Jensen on Protests in Belarus and Russia’s Response

Don Jensen on Protests in Belarus and Russia’s Response

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

By: Dr. Donald N. Jensen

After an “obviously crooked election” in Belarus sparked massive protests, USIP’s Don Jensen says Russia is quietly using the situation to assert influence. If Moscow’s military presence in Belarus increases, “I think you’re going to see a much more forward projection of Russian power against NATO,” he said.

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Understanding Russia’s Interest in Conflict Zones

Understanding Russia’s Interest in Conflict Zones

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

By: Paul M. Carter Jr., Ph.D.

Under Vladimir Putin, Russia’s global ambitions have steadily increased, including in unstable areas of the Middle East, Africa, and the Western Hemisphere. For the most part, Moscow’s activities in these and other areas run counter to Western interests and undermine efforts to mitigate conflict through broad-based, transparent processes. This report outlines the factors that appear to be motivating the Kremlin’s conflict-zone interventions and places them within the larger context of Russian foreign policy interests.

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Amid the Central African Republic’s search for peace, Russia steps in. Is China next?

Amid the Central African Republic’s search for peace, Russia steps in. Is China next?

Thursday, December 19, 2019

By: Leslie Minney; Rachel Sullivan; Rachel Vandenbrink

The 2017 National Security Strategy refocused U.S. foreign and defense policy to address resurgent major power competition with Russia and China. In U.S. foreign policy, Africa has emerged as a frontline for this competition, as in recent years both Moscow and Beijing have sought to expand their influence and promote their interests on the continent. Nowhere is the role of major powers more apparent than in the Central African Republic (CAR), where Russia has emerged as a key power broker amid a civil war that has simmered since 2012. Despite concerns about the need to counter other major powers, the best course for U.S. policy in CAR is to not allow competition with Russia and China to distract from the fundamental priority of supporting a democratic, inclusive path to peace.

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