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- US-Russia Initiative to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism

The U.S.-Russia Initiative to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism Newsletter: November 2018 - November 2019

| Dec. 15, 2019
  • Russians View Terrorists as Third Most Probable Source of Nuclear Attack
  • U.S. Adopts New Strategy for Countering of WMD Terrorism
  • Elbe Group Calls for U.S.-Russian Cooperation against Terrorism
  • Belfer Center Experts on Combatting Complacency about Nuclear Terrorism
  • Can Threat Emanating from Jihadists of Central Asia Have a WMD Dimension?
  • NTI and CENESS on Radiological Risks in Central Asia
  • Hecker Assesses Probability of Radiological and Nuclear Terrorism
  • Luxembourg Forum: It’s Vital for US and Russia to Intensify Cooperation to Combat Nuclear Terrorism

Futuristic weapon

Creative Commons

Analysis & Opinions - Russia Matters

Expert Survey: Is Nuclear Arms Control Dead or Can New Principles Guide It?

| July 30, 2019

With the historic INF Treaty more than likely to terminate, and the future of New START in doubt, what guiding principles for interstate nuclear arms control can we hope for? Of eight U.S., Russian, European and Chinese experts surveyed by Russia Matters, most agree that bilateral agreements between the world’s two nuclear superpowers still have a role to play in any new arms control regime, but they differed considerably on the nature of that role.

A Russian Air Force A-50 Mainstay aircraft (Alan Wilson/Creative Commons via Flickr).

Alan Wilson/Creative Commons via Flickr

Analysis & Opinions - Russia Matters

Russian Plane Draws Shots from South Korea in First Air Patrol with China: Belfer Experts Weigh In

| July 25, 2019

South Korean fighter jets fired over 300 warning shots at a Russian Air Force A-50 Mainstay Airborne Early Warning aircraft on July 23 after the Russian plane twice violated South Korea’s airspace above the East Sea, according to South Korean authorities cited by The Aviationist. Earlier that day, Russian and Chinese bombers had conducted their first long-range joint air patrol in the Asia-Pacific. Russia’s Defense Ministry said there had been “no violations of airspaces of foreign countries” in its joint patrol with China, according to the New York Times, and Russian diplomats in Seoul reportedly complained of inaccuracies in the official comments from South Korea.

Russia Matters asked some members of the Belfer Center’s Russia team for their take on the developments.

President Donald Trump and North Korea leader Kim Jong Un in the Demilitarized Zone

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

Analysis & Opinions - Fox News

Trump Takes Risky Gamble Meeting with Kim and Walking Into North Korea

| June 30, 2019

President Trump’s trip Sunday to the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea and his historic decision to cross briefly into North Korea was a made-for-TV diplomatic spectacular. But it was also a test of whether personal diplomacy can trump (so to speak) longstanding definitions of a country’s national interests by persuading North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to end his nuclear weapons program.

Photo taken on Feb. 15, 1989, people and relatives greet Soviet Army soldiers driving on their armored personnel carriers after crossing a bridge on the border between Afghanistan and then Soviet Uzbekistan near the Uzbek town of Termez, Uzbekistan.

(AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Analysis & Opinions - Russia Matters

Lessons for Leaders: What Afghanistan Taught Russian and Soviet Strategists

| Feb. 28, 2019

The following is a selection of military-political lessons gleaned mostly from the recollections of Soviet strategists who were involved in making and executing the fateful decision to send troops to Afghanistan, as well as from writings by some of post-Soviet Russia’s prominent military analysts. Where possible, the author made an effort to relay these strategists’ analysis of the failures and successes of the intervention because he felt that such assessments, based on first-hand experience, are not always given their due in English-language literature on the subject. 

Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and U.S. President Ronald Reagan shake hands after signing the INF treaty

AP Photo/Bob Daugherty

Policy Brief - Russia Matters

The INF Quandary: Preventing a Nuclear Arms Race in Europe. Perspectives from the US, Russia and Germany

| Jan. 24, 2019

Thus, the fate of the INF Treaty is of surpassing importance in Europe, Russia and the United States. The stakes for the parties to the treaty are obvious. Europe too would be affected as dissolution of the treaty could lead to a new arms race with intermediate-range missiles targeting the entire continent. Below, three authors representing each of these perspectives consider the likely future of the treaty, how it might be saved and what its demise might mean. 

- Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center Newsletter

Keeping Communications Open Despite U.S.-Russia Friction

| Fall/Winter 2018-2019

For the past eight years, a group of high-level American and Russian retired military and intelligence officials has met annually to discuss sensitive issues of U.S. - Russian relations. The purpose of the Elbe Group, launched by the Belfer Center in 2008, is to keep open an important channel of communications between the two countries that have the largest arsenal of nuclear weapons. in the world. 

A Tajik conscript looks out over remote stretches of northern Afghanistan from a border outpost near Khorog, Tajikistan.

Photo by David Trilling (c)

Report - Russia Matters

Jihadists from Ex-Soviet Central Asia: Where Are They? Why Did They Radicalize? What Next?

| Fall 2018

Thousands of radicals from formerly Soviet Central Asia have traveled to fight alongside IS in Syria and Iraq; hundreds more are in Afghanistan. Not counting the fighting in those three war-torn countries, nationals of Central Asia have been responsible for nearly 100 deaths in terrorist attacks outside their home region in the past five years. But many important aspects of the phenomenon need more in-depth study.

This research paper attempts to answer four basic sets of questions: (1) Is Central Asia becoming a new source of violent extremism that transcends borders, and possibly continents? (2) If so, why? What causes nationals of Central Asia to take up arms and participate in political violence? (3) As IS has been all but defeated in Iraq and Syria, what will Central Asian extremists who have thrown in their lot with the terrorist group do next? And (4) do jihadists from Central Asia aspire to acquire and use weapons of mass destruction? If so, how significant a threat do they pose and who would be its likeliest targets?