Heather Ashby is the senior program officer for the Center for Russia and Europe at the U.S. Institute of Peace. Dr. Ashby joined USIP after seven years with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), where she worked at the intersection of homeland security and international affairs. She also focused on U.S.-Russia relations at DHS.

Her research interests include Russia’s activities in the Global South, particularly in Africa. Dr. Ashby researches and publishes on Russia’s involvement in conflict zones and efforts to wield influence in the Global South through kinetic and non-kinetic means. She also supports USIP’s work on Ukraine and strategic competition. 

Dr. Ashby received her doctorate from the University of Southern California in 2014.

Publications By Heather

Amid War in Ukraine, Russia’s Lavrov Goes on Diplomatic Offensive

Amid War in Ukraine, Russia’s Lavrov Goes on Diplomatic Offensive

Thursday, August 25, 2022

By: Heather Ashby, Ph.D.;  Jude Mutah, Ph.D.;  Jason Tower;  Ambassador Hesham Youssef

As Russia’s unprovoked and illegal war against Ukraine enters its seventh month, the Russian government continues its diplomatic offensive to prevent more countries from joining international condemnation and sanctions for its military aggression. Between July and August, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov traveled to Egypt, Ethiopia, Uganda, the Republic of Congo, Myanmar and Cambodia — the last as part of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. This tour represented an evolving reorientation of Russian foreign policy from Europe to the Global South that has accelerated since Russia’s first invasion of Ukraine in 2014.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global Policy

On Ukraine, Africa Needs a Clearer U.S. Message

On Ukraine, Africa Needs a Clearer U.S. Message

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

By: Heather Ashby, Ph.D.;  Joseph Sany, Ph.D.

As democracies rally to defend an international rules-based system against Russia’s brutal attack on Ukrainians, the United States should forge an alliance with African partners by committing with them now to resolve the Ukraine crisis in a way that makes that system fairer and more inclusive. One early step is for U.S. and other policymakers to highlight the core of this conflict: The 44 million Ukrainians are fighting to govern themselves freely within their internationally recognized borders — a cause that is viscerally real to billions of people across Africa and the “global south.”

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global Policy

What Russia's Invasion of Ukraine Means for African Governments

What Russia's Invasion of Ukraine Means for African Governments

Thursday, April 14, 2022

By: Heather Ashby, Ph.D.;  Jude Mutah, Ph.D.

As Russia’s war in Ukraine advances into its second month, the conflict’s effects continue to ripple across the world. In Africa, the conflict is upending long-term trends across the continent and eliciting mixed reactions from governments. As increased sanctions push the Kremlin to further explore relationships with countries outside of Europe and the United States, African countries are currently left with impending shortages in food and financing for energy projects. While some see this as an opportunity to build economic capacity from within the continent, others have opened the door for the Russian government to re-shape its approach toward Africa.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global Policy

How the Kremlin Distorts the ‘Responsibility to Protect’ Principle

How the Kremlin Distorts the ‘Responsibility to Protect’ Principle

Thursday, April 7, 2022

By: Heather Ashby, Ph.D.

As Russia’s war against Ukraine moves into its sixth week, one of Moscow’s justifications for its unprovoked act of aggression against its western neighbor rests on its claimed right to protect ethnic Russians from discrimination in foreign countries. The Kremlin has tried to base this assertion on the language of fighting genocide and the United Nations’ principle of “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P). Russia has distorted those principles, twisting them instead to justify its intervention in the internal affairs of countries such as Estonia and Kazakhstan and, in the case of Ukraine, outright invasion. It also has bent the notion of Russian citizenship to justify its malign influence and use of force against other countries.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Conflict Analysis & PreventionGlobal Policy

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