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

New Russia Matters Website Highlights Facts, Dispels Myths

  • Natasha Yefimova-Trilling
| Spring 2017

In describing Russia, many people quote Winston Churchill, who called the country “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” Few, however, have heard Churchill’s wise observation in full: “I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key: That key is Russian national interest.”

The new Russia Matters website (RussiaMatters.org), based at the Belfer Center, attempts to shed light on Russia and U.S.-Russian relations through the lens hinted at by Churchill: Which U.S. national interests are critically impacted by Russia? How much do U.S. policies toward Russia reflect these interests? What are the drivers shaping the two countries’ policies toward one another? What data exist to support answers to these and related questions? 

The website, which was launched in November 2016 with support from Carnegie Corporation of New York, offers top-notch analysis, user-friendly factual data, interviews with well-informed foreign-policy practitioners, news digests, and a fact-checking section that welcomes requests for contestable claims to verify. The Russia Matters project works closely with several dozen eminent partners, including some of America’s best experts on Russia, and features a curated selection of analysis initially published elsewhere.

The need for such a resource now seems particularly strong: Russia once again dominates headlines, but U.S. expertise on the country is in demonstrable decline. The Russia Matters project aims to reverse this trend—in part through its own offerings, in part through actively engaging up-and-coming young scholars interested in the region. The website also includes an events calendar and hosts on- and off-the-record talks on pertinent topics.

The concept of Russia Matters was developed by the Belfer Center’s Simon Saradzhyan under the guidance of the Center’s director, Graham Allison, and its executive director for research, Gary Samore. In addition to Saradzhyan, who directs the project, the RM staff includes editor Natasha Yefimova-Trilling, assistant Angelina Flood and rotating student associates from Harvard and other universities. Allison and Samore continue to provide guidance for RM along with several of the Center’s other lead experts, including Director of Defense and Intelligence Projects Kevin Ryan and Director of the U.S.-Russia Initiative to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism William Tobey.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Yefimova-Trilling, Natasha. New Russia Matters Website Highlights Facts, Dispels Myths .” (Spring 2017).

The Author

Natasha Yefimova-Trilling