Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine in 2014 and Syria in 2015, and rising tensions with the West, heighten concerns of broader conflict across the continent. Research by the U.S. Institute of Peace analyzes such risks, while work on the ground in Ukraine strengthens the conflict-resolution skills of those displaced by war. On other fronts, NATO has made a USIP course on strategic advising mandatory for personnel deploying to Afghanistan, and the institute has provided policy guidance on topics ranging from election violence in Moldova to extremism, political turmoil or corruption from Northern Ireland to the Balkans and the Caucasus.
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.
With back-to-back G-7 and NATO summits this week, USIP's Donald Jensen says President Biden is focused on maintaining unity among allies and partners as the war in Ukraine grinds on: "Putin is counting on the faltering of Western assistance and political support for Ukraine … and that's what we’ll see discussed this week."