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.

Featured Publications

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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.”

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Ukraine’s Defiance Could Force Putin into Talks

Ukraine’s Defiance Could Force Putin into Talks

Friday, March 18, 2022

By: Ambassador William B. Taylor

Three weeks of heroic resistance by Ukraine’s troops and citizen volunteers, buttressed by a historic international outpouring of support, have denied Russian President Vladimir Putin the lightning seizure of Ukrainian cities that he expected in his brutal assault. As Russia continues to indiscriminately bomb Ukraine’s cities, the stalled ground offensive may force Putin to recalculate. He could escalate violence, but also may be forced to negotiate — and a series of meetings between the two sides could be laying the groundwork for an agreement to stop the fighting. But to even consider any real negotiation, Putin must finally recognize that 44 million Ukrainians and their supporters will resist indefinitely.

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This Global Resistance to Putin’s War Is Historic

This Global Resistance to Putin’s War Is Historic

Thursday, March 10, 2022

By: Ambassador William B. Taylor;  James Rupert

In just 15 days of Russia’s massive, new assault on Ukraine, democracies worldwide have mounted a historic act of repudiation — diplomatically, economically, militarily and morally. Nations are painfully cutting off trade with Russia. Thousands of public protests across 93 countries, including Russia, are deepening Vladimir Putin’s isolation. This collective support for Ukraine and rejection of Putin’s war is arguably the most unified global response to any act of state violence since the world’s opposition to European fascism during World War II. Sustaining it is how we can defeat Putin’s threat to world peace.

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What Is Indigenous Foreign Policy? Lessons from Australia and New Zealand

What Is Indigenous Foreign Policy? Lessons from Australia and New Zealand

Thursday, May 26, 2022

By: Nicole Cochran;  Brian Harding

In early May, the Solomon Islands — the second largest recipient of Australian aid — signed a security agreement with China, raising concerns about the potential for the creation of a Chinese military base a short distance from Australia’s shores. Coming mere weeks before Australian elections, this announcement was widely seen by Australians as a failure of their foreign policy and helped turn national security into a high priority for the elections.

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Putin’s War Backfires as Finland, Sweden Seek to Join NATO

Putin’s War Backfires as Finland, Sweden Seek to Join NATO

Thursday, May 26, 2022

By: A. Wess Mitchell, Ph.D.

Only three months into Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine, the geopolitical ripple effects are being felt across the European continent. Motivated by Moscow’s aggression, Finland and Sweden have applied to join NATO, ending decades of both states’ respective non-aligned status. Finnish and Swedish NATO accession would boost the capabilities and defensibility of the alliance. Their joining NATO is a rebuke of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has bristled over the alliance’s post-Cold War expansion and used it as a pretext for his Ukraine incursion.

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Biden’s Asia Trip Seeks to Revitalize Alliances, Focus on China

Biden’s Asia Trip Seeks to Revitalize Alliances, Focus on China

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

By: Frank Aum;  Mirna Galic;  Rachel Vandenbrink

President Biden made his first trip to East Asia beginning late last week, visiting South Korea and Japan, where he participated in a leader’s summit of the so-called Quad, which includes Australia, Japan and India. The president’s visit is part of a flurry of Asia-focused diplomatic initiatives in recent weeks including the U.S.-ASEAN summit, the U.S.-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue and an upcoming speech from Secretary of State Blinken, which is expected to lay out the contours of the administration’s China Policy.

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Beyond the Summit of the Americas: Resetting U.S. Policy in Latin America

Beyond the Summit of the Americas: Resetting U.S. Policy in Latin America

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

By: Ambassador P. Michael McKinley (ret.)

Despite the Biden administration’s efforts to outline a new, positive vision for engagement with Latin America and the Caribbean, old fault lines are likely to come into play at the upcoming Summit of the Americas, which kicks off in Los Angeles on June 6. Both U.S. domestic politics and governments in the hemisphere with a more skeptical view of Washington and its intentions contribute to these tensions. A new U.S. perspective is required — one that takes into greater account the region’s diversity, priorities and political complexity. Without such a shift, the perception and reality of declining U.S. influence is only likely to deepen.

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Frank Aum on Biden’s Visit to South Korea and Japan

Frank Aum on Biden’s Visit to South Korea and Japan

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

By: Frank Aum

Amid a flurry of Asia diplomatic initiatives, USIP’s Frank Aum says President Biden’s trip is a chance to show the United States is committed to having a major presence in the Indo-Pacific, but that “this is not something that happens in a single summit… We’re going to have to continue to strengthen those efforts.”

Type: Podcast

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