John Drennan is a senior program officer in USIP’s Center for Russia and Europe, where he manages the center’s strategic stability portfolio. He also contributes to USIP’s work on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, U.S.-Russia relations and strategic competition.

Drennan joined USIP from the RAND Corporation, where he focused on strategic competition, nuclear strategy and arms control, and Russian and Chinese foreign policy and military strategy. Before RAND, he held several roles at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), most recently as special assistant to the executive director, where he conducted research and oversaw program management for the IISS Non-Proliferation and Nuclear Policy program and the IISS Cyber, Space and Future Conflict program; managed outreach to senior U.S. government officials to participate in IISS regional security conferences in Bahrain and Singapore; and contributed to development, fundraising and DEI efforts in the IISS-Americas office.

Before that, he was a research analyst and program officer in the IISS Russia and Eurasia program, where he researched Russia’s relations in Northeast Asia and conflicts in Eurasia while managing the program’s budget, events, external relations, project development and internship program.

Drennan is currently a doctoral student at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). His research focuses on nuclear strategy, arms control, the Cold War and the history of U.S. foreign policy. He holds a master’s from SAIS in strategic studies and international economics and a bachelor’s in international studies, political science and economics from Case Western Reserve University. He has a working proficiency of Russian and is studying Mandarin.

Publications By John

Possible Russian Nuclear Deployments to Belarus Could Shift Europe’s Nuclear Balance

Possible Russian Nuclear Deployments to Belarus Could Shift Europe’s Nuclear Balance

Thursday, June 30, 2022

By: John Drennan

During a meeting with his Belarusian counterpart on June 25, Russian President Vladimir Putin indicated that “within the next several months,” Russia intends to transfer Iskander-M missiles — which can carry both conventional and nuclear warheads — to Belarus and begin upgrading Belarusian Su-25 fighters to carry nuclear weapons. Most of the details of the deal remain unknown or to be determined. But should Putin’s promise turn out to be more than nuclear bluster — something Putin and other Russian officials have resorted to since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine — the deployment could remake the nuclear balance in Europe and increase the risk of a potential NATO-Russia conflict occurring.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global Policy

Russia Has Relaxed its Rhetoric on NATO’s Nordic Expansion

Russia Has Relaxed its Rhetoric on NATO’s Nordic Expansion

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

By: John Drennan;  Mary Glantz, Ph.D.

Russia for years has warned that it would take military steps, among others, to counter any eventual decision by Finland or Sweden to join NATO. Yet since the Nordic countries declared that intention in mid-May, Russian officials’ changing rhetoric suggests that the Kremlin will seek to avoid any real confrontation over prospective NATO expansion.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global Policy

How Territorial Issues Could Impact Security Guarantees to Ukraine

How Territorial Issues Could Impact Security Guarantees to Ukraine

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

By: John Drennan

In late March, the Ukrainian delegation to the Russia-Ukraine peace negotiations in Istanbul put forward a draft peace agreement. The keystone of this agreement was a mutual defense guarantee, similar to NATO’s Article 5, to protect Ukraine. Treaty-bound guarantors would come to Ukraine’s defense in the event of an attack on the country, in exchange for Ukraine’s neutrality. But it is possible that Ukraine’s borders will be altered as part of a final peace settlement. As such, states should understand the territorial issues at stake and how those issues could trigger any negotiated security guarantee mechanisms.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global PolicyPeace Processes

View All