From its annexation of Crimea and the Kerch Strait to its continued support of the Assad regime in Syria, Russia has become more assertive in reestablishing its influence on the global stage. The international community is faced with the challenge of countering Putin’s aggression, and USIP is committed to developing a new portfolio to analyze and recommend policies for addressing Russia’s expansion ambitions.
Five years into Russia’s military intervention in Syria, understanding Moscow’s endgame could provide critical insights into the decade-long conflict’s trajectory, as well as Russia’s posture in the Middle East and beyond. Although still evolving and subject to internal debates, Moscow’s Syria strategy appears to be centered on a “spheres of influence” model. In this model, Syria is divided into distinct realms under the sway of competing external patrons.
Russia was rocked by demonstrations over the weekend, as thousands braved freezing temperatures to protest the detention of dissident Alexei Navalny. The opposition leader had just returned to Russia after recovering from a poisoning attack, suspected to undertaken by the Kremlin. But Russians’ grievances go well beyond the treatment of Navalny. Corruption, a foundering economy, and dissatisfaction with the ruling elite threaten to propel the protests into a broader movement against President Vladimir Putin’s regime. The Kremlin has alleged that the protests are a Western plot to destabilize Russia. USIP’s Donald Jensen looks at the underlying factors driving the protests, what threat they pose to Putin’s regime, and what, if any, role the United States can play.
With relations between the United States and Russia at a low point, the incoming Biden Administration faces the challenge of finding the right balance between showing firmness toward the Kremlin and engaging on issues of mutual interest, above all arms control. President-elect Joe Biden has indicated he may agree to extend the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) for five years, a decision that could clear the way for further negotiations. But while extension of New START could lead to discussions on other areas of arms control, the potential for breakthroughs in the U.S.-Russia relationship appears dim.
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.