January 14, 2021 | From Trump to Biden Monograph

Russia

January 14, 2021 | From Trump to Biden Monograph

Russia

Current Policy

The 2017 National Security Strategy identified Russia as a “revisionist power” working “to shape a world antithetical to U.S. values and interests.”1 The National Defense Strategy identified “long-term, strategic competition” with revisionist powers as “the central challenge to U.S. prosperity and security.”2 In keeping with these assessments, the Trump administration sought to address Russian threats ranging from election meddling to arms control – often taking a firmer line than its predecessor. Yet the administration’s Russia policy was often contradictory in practice, with President Trump frequently undermining the tough line taken by his administration and both parties in Congress.

To combat Russian election meddling, U.S. Cyber Command (CYBERCOM) conducted preemptive operations targeting Russian trolls during the 2018 elections3 as well as Russian state and criminal hackers ahead of the 2020 elections.4 The administration also increased election-related cooperation with state and local governments and the private sector,5 issued dozens of election-related designations,6 closed Russian diplomatic facilities,7 and sought to deter future meddling by authorizing sanctions against “the largest business entities” of any interfering country.8 Further in the cyber realm, the administration sanctioned and indicted numerous Russian hackers, issued technical advisories exposing Russian cyber threats,9 and increased cyber cooperation with European allies.10 CYBERCOM reportedly also infiltrated Russia’s power grid to deter Russian cyberattacks against U.S. critical infrastructure.11

Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Trump shake hands before a joint press conference following a meeting in Helsinki, Finland, on July 16, 2018. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)

Following Russia’s attempted assassination in England of former double-agent Sergei Skripal using a nerve agent, the administration expelled 60 Russian intelligence officers and closed Russia’s Seattle consulate – a response Trump later privately complained was too strong.12 The administration also imposed various congressionally mandated sanctions, including a partial ban on lending to the Russian government and buying Russian sovereign debt, but waived the harshest sanctions.13

Altogether, Treasury sanctioned over 365 Russian targets on grounds ranging from aggression against Ukraine to abuses of human rights,14 despite Trump’s objection to the Russia sanctions in the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).15

On arms control, the administration withdrew in 2019 from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, citing longstanding Russian violations.16 The administration also withdrew from the Open Skies Treaty17 and declined to extend New START without a political agreement that improves the treaty’s verification measures, covers Russia’s new-generation and non-strategic nuclear weapons, and provides a framework for a future multilateral treaty including China.18 Despite nearing an interim deal for a one-year treaty extension and nuclear freeze, disagreement over verification stalled negotiations before the U.S. election rendered them moot.19

In February 2020, Washington fielded a low-yield submarine-launched ballistic missile intended to deter Russian nuclear coercion.20 The administration also increased the U.S. military presence in Poland21 and the Black Sea region,22 boosted defense cooperation with Ukraine,23 Georgia,24 and the Baltic states,25 and initially expanded the European Deterrence Initiative (EDI), though Trump diverted almost $1.1 billion in EDI funding to the border wall.26 In contrast to its predecessor, the administration provided lethal military aid directly to Ukraine.27

The administration sought to reduce European reliance on Russian energy by supporting U.S. liquified natural gas exports and alternative energy infrastructure projects.28 It opposed TurkStream and Nord Stream 2 (NS2)29 – Russian natural gas pipelines that threaten European energy security and Ukraine’s economic health and strategic leverage – but refrained from using sanctions to stop NS2 until Congress imposed them in December 2019.30 As Congress prepared further NS2 sanctions in the recently passed annual defense bill,31 the administration expanded the scope of previous sanctions against firms that help complete NS2.32

The administration opposed Moscow’s support for the Venezuelan and Syrian regimes, including by designating Russian actors helping them evade U.S. sanctions.33 In late 2020, the Treasury Department also designated 13 Belarusian officials and entities for helping rig the country’s August 9 election and cracking down on peaceful protesters.34

Assessment

All too often, Trump’s inconsistencies and personal predilections undermined his administration’s otherwise robust Russia policy.

While Trump achieved moderate success in pushing NATO members to increase defense spending,35 he also alienated key allies and shook faith in America’s commitment to collective defense,36 thereby aiding Russian efforts to undermine the Western alliance. Trump’s sudden decision to redeploy one-third of U.S. troops stationed in Germany exacerbated these trends, particularly since he explicitly linked the decision to Berlin’s “delinquency” in meeting its defense spending obligations.37

BMD-4M Sadovnitsa airborne infantry fighting vehicles roll down Moscow’s Red Square on May 7, 2019, during dress rehearsal for Russia’s annual Victory Day military parade. (Photo by Alexei Yereshko/TASS via Getty Images)

The administration achieved mixed results in reducing Russian arms sales, an important source of revenue and influence for Russia. The chilling effect from CAATSA sanctions targeting Russian arms sales cost Russia an estimated $8-10 billion in lost weapons deals,38 contributing to a decline in Russia’s global market share.39 While Washington failed to dissuade Ankara from purchasing Russia’s S-400 surface-to-air missile system, the administration’s belated imposition of CAATSA sanctions against Turkey40 could help convince India and other U.S. partners to reject Russian arms.

The administration made strides in combating Russian election meddling despite inconsistent White House leadership on the issue.41 Trump does deserve credit for authorizing offensive cyber operations against Russia,42 but his frequent dismissals of the intelligence community’s findings, coupled with his failure to press Putin on the matter,43 likely undermined deterrence of further meddling. Following the December 2020 revelation that Russia had perpetrated what may be the worst cyber breach in U.S. government history, Trump downplayed the incident and contradicted his own secretary of state by suggesting China, not Russia, was responsible.44

In Syria, Trump launched airstrikes early in his tenure to punish the Moscow-backed regime for using chemical weapons, whereas the Obama administration failed to enforce its own red line. However, the strikes had no lasting effect. In 2019, Trump’s impulsive decision to withdraw U.S. troops enabled Russian forces to return to northeast Syria, where they harassed U.S. troops and expanded Moscow’s influence over Washington’s Kurdish allies.45

Likewise, American inaction in Libya facilitated the expansion of Russia’s influence in North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean and leverage over Europe, which fears the spillover effects of migration and terrorism.

In Venezuela, by contrast, U.S. sanctions – aided by an oversupplied oil market – did help disrupt Russian efforts to circumvent U.S. sanctions on Venezuelan crude exports.46

Putting aside the questions of impeachment and possible illegality, Trump’s decision to link U.S.-Ukraine relations to Kyiv’s willingness to advance his personal interests derailed the administration’s otherwise strong Ukraine policy and upended a longstanding bipartisan and transatlantic consensus on supporting Ukraine.47

More recently, Trump was conspicuously absent as European allies grappled with protests in Belarus and Moscow’s attempted assassination of opposition figure Alexei Navalny via a banned nerve agent.48 While German and French counterparts pressed Putin to prevent violence in Belarus and produce answers about Navalny’s poisoning,49 Trump remained silent and neglected to consult European leaders. The administration likewise ignored its legal obligation under the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination (CBW) Act to issue a determination and sanctions for Moscow’s chemical weapon use.50

Military hardware is seen in Moscow’s Red Square on November 7, 2020, during a two-day exhibition of WWII installations, marking the 79th anniversary of the 1941 Red Square Parade. (Photo by Vyacheslav Prokofyev/TASS via Getty Images)

Unfortunately, this response paralleled Trump’s response to the Skripal attack, after which Trump failed to raise the issue with Putin yet found time to congratulate him on winning re-election.51 The White House also dragged its feet in imposing CBW Act sanctions, despite bipartisan pressure.52

In short, Trump failed to grasp the nature of the Russian challenge despite the clarity official White House and Pentagon strategy documents provided on this issue. While his administration, both parties in Congress, and most European allies recognize Russia is a strategic competitor, Trump seemed convinced he could simply “get along”53 with Moscow despite earlier failed efforts to “reset” ties with Russia.

Recommendations

  • Resist the temptation to forgive and forget Russia’s transgressions for the sake of “getting along.” Washington must talk to Moscow and should remain open to cooperation where it suits U.S. interests, especially on issues such as arms control and security in the cyber domain.54 To the extent possible, Washington should also avoid pushing Russia and China closer together. But Washington must not forget that Moscow is a strategic competitor. The Putin regime’s interests, goals, and values differ fundamentally from those of the United States and its European allies.
  • Extend New START, but make full use of U.S. leverage. While extending this treaty is in America’s interest, the Biden administration should capitalize on its leverage and the concessions Russia granted to the Trump administration. The Kremlin has already demonstrated its willingness to accept a provisional deal that couples a temporary extension with a warhead freeze and negotiations encompassing Russia’s entire nuclear arsenal. The Biden administration should extend New START but reserve the right to reevaluate annually U.S. participation, with America’s continued adherence conditioned on Moscow’s good-faith participation in negotiations toward a broader deal and on Russia’s agreement to a mutual nuclear arsenal freeze during those talks. Since the looming extension deadline precludes the complex negotiations necessary to address verification of this freeze, the administration should allow the first year of extension to go ahead without an agreement on verification, but should insist that verification be discussed during subsequent negotiations.
  • Field a sea-launched nuclear cruise missile. This capability would complicate Russian (and Chinese) military planning by filling a gap in the U.S. escalation ladder and enhancing diversity in platforms, range, and survivability, and would help counter Russian INF missile deployments and deter Russian nuclear first-use.55
  • Restore transatlantic unity and strengthen NATO’s Eastern Flank. The Biden administration should repair NATO unity, including by reevaluating the Trump administration’s planned posture realignment. Washington should fully fund the EDI and reverse the recent lull in momentum on vital military construction projects.56 It should also pursue Integrated Air and Missile Defense and additional conventional long-range fires. Washington and its allies should further strengthen NATO’s posture in the Black Sea region, which is currently incommensurate with the region’s strategic importance.57 In addition, Washington should continue working with European allies to address non-kinetic Russian threats, including through cooperation on cyber, energy diversification, and anti-corruption.
  • Develop a comprehensive strategy to coordinate interagency and international efforts against Russian illicit finance. This strategy should target the dirty money of Russian oligarchs, Putin’s cronies, and Russia-based organized criminal groups and seek to disrupt the illicit financial schemes that facilitate Russian support for rogue regimes, strategic corruption, and active measures. The strategy should also aim to strengthen U.S. and international anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism regimes, intelligence and enforcement capacity, and information sharing regarding Russian illicit finance. Finally, Washington should build and credibly communicate a sanctions escalation ladder to deter select high-impact acts of aggression, such as a cyberattack destroying U.S. voter registries.
  • Stand up for human rights and democracy in Russia and throughout the post-Soviet space. The Biden administration should hold Moscow accountable for the Navalny attack, including by designating the individuals and entities involved in the attack and subsequent cover-up58 and by heeding Navalny’s calls to redouble Western efforts to target the ill-gotten wealth of Putin’s cronies and Russia’s corrupt oligarchs.59 In Belarus, the administration should, with European allies, signal that further crackdowns will trigger sanctions against Belarus’ top state-owned companies.60 The administration should also designate the Russian propaganda and disinformation specialists Moscow sent to Belarusian state media outlets.61

  1. The White House, “National Security Strategy of the United States of America,” December 2017, page 25. (https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/NSS-Final-12-18-2017-0905.pdf)
  2. U.S. Department of Defense, “Summary of the 2018 National Defense Strategy of The United States of America,” January 26, 2018, page 2. (https://dod.defense.gov/Portals/1/Documents/pubs/2018-National-Defense-Strategy-Summary.pdf)
  3. Ellen Nakashima, “U.S. Cyber Command operation disrupted Internet access of Russian troll factory on day of 2018 midterms,” The Washington Post, February 27, 2019. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/us-cyber-command-operation-disrupted-internet-access-of-russian-troll-factory-on-day-of-2018-midterms/2019/02/26/1827fc9e-36d6-11e9-af5b-b51b7ff322e9_story.html); Ellen Nakashima, “U.S. cyber force credited with helping stop Russia from undermining midterms,” The Washington Post, February 14, 2019. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/us-cyber-force-credited-with-helping-stop-russia-from-undermining-midterms/2019/02/14/ceef46ae-3086-11e9-813a-0ab2f17e305b_story.html)
  4. David E. Sanger and Julian E. Barnes, “U.S. Tried a More Aggressive Cyberstrategy, and the Feared Attacks Never Came, The New York Times, November 9, 2020. (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/09/us/politics/cyberattacks-2020-election.html); David E. Sanger and Nicole Perlroth, “Microsoft Takes Down a Risk to the Election, and Finds the U.S. Doing the Same,” The New York Times, October 12, 2020. (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/12/us/politics/election-hacking-microsoft.html)
  5. See: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, “Election Security,” accessed December 23, 2020. (https://www.dhs.gov/topic/election-security); U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, “Protected Voices,” accessed December 23, 2020. (https://www.fbi.gov/investigate/counterintelligence/foreign-influence/protected-voices)
  6. U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control, “Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List,” December 23, 2020. (https://www.treasury.gov/ofac/downloads/sdnlist.pdf)
  7. Anne Gearan, “Trump administration orders three Russian diplomatic facilities in U.S. closed,” The Washington Post, August 31, 2017. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/trump-administration-orders-three-russian-diplomatic-facilities-in-us-closed/2017/08/31/c5916a64-8e6c-11e7-84c0-02cc069f2c37_story.html)
  8. Executive Order 13848, “Executive Order on Imposing Certain Sanctions in the Event of Foreign Interference in a United States Election,” September 12, 2018. (https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/executive-order-imposing-certain-sanctions-event-foreign-interference-united-states-election)
  9. See, for example: U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, Press Release, “NSA and FBI Expose Russian Previously Undisclosed Malware Drovorub in Cybersecurity Advisory,” August 13, 2020. (https://www.fbi.gov/news/pressrel/press-releases/nsa-and-fbi-expose-russian-previously-undisclosed-malware-drovorub-in-cybersecurity-advisory/)
  10. Sean Lyngaas, “Cyber Command’s midterm election work included trips to Ukraine, Montenegro, and North Macedonia,” CyberScoop, March 14, 2019. (https://www.cyberscoop.com/cyber-command-midterm-elections-ukraine-montenegro-and-north-macedonia); Julian E. Barnes, “U.S. Cyber Command Expands Operations to Hunt Hackers From Russia, Iran and China,” The New York Times, November 2, 2020. (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/02/us/politics/cyber-command-hackers-russia.html)
  11. David E. Sanger and Nicole Perlroth, “U.S. Escalates Online Attacks on Russia’s Power Grid,” The New York Times, June 15, 2019. (https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/15/us/politics/trump-cyber-russia-grid.html)
  12. Greg Jaffe, John Hudson, and Philip Rucker, “Trump, a reluctant hawk, has battled his top aides on Russia and lost,” The Washington Post, April 15, 2018. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/trump-a-reluctant-hawk-has-battled-his-top-aides-on-russia-and-lost/2018/04/15/a91e850a-3f1b-11e8-974f-aacd97698cef_story.html)
  13. U.S. Department of State, Fact Sheet, “Second Round of Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act Sanctions on Russia,” August 2, 2019. (https://www.state.gov/second-round-of-chemical-and-biological-weapons-control-and-warfare-elimination-act-sanctions-on-russia)
  14. @SecPompeo, “Since 2017, @realDonaldTrump Administration has imposed sanctions on 365+ Russian targets in response to Russia’s destabilizing and aggressive actions in Ukraine and throughout Europe.” Twitter, January 3, 2020. (https://twitter.com/SecPompeo/status/1345731645005942785?s=20)
  15. The White House, Press Statement, “Statement by President Donald J. Trump on Signing the ‘Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act,’” August 2, 2017. (https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/statement-president-donald-j-trump-signing-countering-americas-adversaries-sanctions-act)
  16. U.S. Department of State, “Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments,” August 2019. (https://www.state.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Compliance-Report-2019-August-19-Unclassified-Final.pdf)
  17. Michael R. Gordon, “Trump Exits Open Skies Treaty, Moves to Discard Observation Planes,” The Wall Street Journal, November 22, 2020. (https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-exits-open-skies-treaty-moves-to-discard-observation-planes-11606055371)
  18. U.S. Department of State, “Press Briefing with Ambassador Marshall Billingslea, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Arms Control And Lt. Gen. Thomas Bussiere, Deputy Commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, August 18, 2020. (https://www.state.gov/press-briefing-with-ambassador-marshall-billingslea-u-s-special-presidential-envoy-for-arms-control-and-lt-gen-thomas-bussiere-deputy-commander-of-the-u-s-strategic-command); Special Presidential Envoy for Arms Control Ambassador Marshall Billingslea, “„Если Россия не примет наше предложение до выборов, то цена за вход повысится“ [‘If Russia does not accept our offer before the elections, the price of admission will go up’],” Remarks during an interview with Kommersant (Russia), September 21, 2020. (https://www.kommersant.ru/doc/4499882)
  19. Russian Federation Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Press Statement, “Foreign Ministry statement on New START Treaty Extension,” October 20, 2020. (https://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/international_safety/regprla/-/asset_publisher/YCxLFJnKuD1W/content/id/4395765); Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov, Russian Federation Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov’s interview with the Kommersant newspaper, published on October 22, 2020,” Remarks during an interview with Kommersant (Russia), October 23, 2020. (https://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/international_safety/regprla/-/asset_publisher/YCxLFJnKuD1W/content/id/4402033)
  20. U.S. Department of Defense, Press Release, “Statement on the Fielding of the W76-2 Low-Yield Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile Warhead,” February 4, 2020. (https://www.defense.gov/Newsroom/Releases/Release/Article/2073532/statement-on-the-fielding-of-the-w76-2-low-yield-submarine-launched-ballistic-m)
  21. “U.S. Military Presence in Poland,” Congressional Research Service, August 4, 2020. (https://fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/IF11280.pdf); North Atlantic Treaty Organization, “NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence,” March 2019. (https://www.nato.int/nato_static_fl2014/assets/pdf/pdf_2019_04/20190402_1904-factsheet_efp_en.pdf)
  22. John Vandiver, “Air Force moves drones, airmen to base in Romania,” Stars and Stripes, January 5, 2021. (https://www.stripes.com/news/europe/air-force-moves-drones-airmen-to-base-in-romania-1.657484); Jennifer H. Svan, “US military, allies in Romania stage largest-ever combined NATO medical exercise, Stars and Stripes, April 25, 2019. (https://www.stripes.com/news/us-military-allies-in-romania-stage-largest-ever-combined-nato-medical-exercise-1.578402); Robin Emmott, “NATO to launch Black Sea force as latest counter to Russia,” Reuters, October 9, 2017. (https://www.reuters.com/article/russia-nato/nato-to-launch-black-sea-force-as-latest-counter-to-russia-idUSL8N1MK150); North Atlantic Treaty Organization, “NATO Allied ships patrol in the Black Sea,” June 18, 2020. (https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/news_176708.htm)
  23. See, for example: Kyle Rempfer, “US Air Force’s huge exercise in Ukraine fuels growing partnership and that country’s NATO ambitions,” Air Force Times, November 13, 2018. (https://www.airforcetimes.com/news/your-air-force/2018/11/13/nato-ambitions-ukraine-looks-west-with-air-exercises-and-high-level-discussions); Charlsy Panzino, “Amid Russia tensions, “US Army continues to build up Ukrainian forces, training center,” Army Times, June 8, 2017. (https://www.armytimes.com/news/your-army/2017/06/08/amid-russia-tensions-us-army-continues-to-build-up-ukrainian-forces-training-center)
  24. U.S. Department of State, Fact Sheet, “U.S. Security Cooperation With Georgia,” June 16, 2020. (https://www.state.gov/u-s-security-cooperation-with-georgia)
  25. U.S. Department of State, Fact Sheet, “U.S. Security Cooperation With the Baltic States,” June 11, 2020. (https://www.state.gov/u-s-security-cooperation-with-the-baltic-states)
  26. “The European Deterrence Initiative: A Budgetary Overview,” Congressional Research Service, June 16, 2020. (https://fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/IF10946.pdf)
  27. “U.S. Says It Will Enhance Ukraine’s Defensive Capabilities; Russia Derides Move,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, December 23, 2017. (https://www.rferl.org/a/us-ukraine-enhanced-weapons-javelin-missiles-russia-separatists/28934551.html)
  28. Frédéric Simon, “‘Freedom gas’: US opens LNG floodgates to Europe,” Euractiv (Belgium), May 2, 2019. https://www.euractiv.com/section/energy/news/freedom-gas-us-opens-lng-floodgates-to-europe); U.S. Department of State, “Energy,” accessed December 23, 2020. (https://www.state.gov/subjects/energy)
  29. See, for example: The White House, “Joint Statement from President of the United States Donald J. Trump and President of Romania Klaus Iohannis,” August 20, 2019. (https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/joint-statement-president-united-states-donald-j-trump-president-romania-klaus-iohannis); U.S. Department of State, “Briefing on European Energy Security and the Nord Stream 2,” December 10, 2018. (https://www.state.gov/briefing-on-european-energy-security-and-the-nord-stream-2)
  30. U.S. Department of State, “Fact Sheet on U.S. Opposition to Nord Stream 2,” December 27, 2019. (https://www.state.gov/fact-sheet-on-u-s-opposition-to-nord-stream-2)
  31. William M. (Mac) Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021, H.R.6395, 116th Congress (2020). (https://www.congress.gov/116/crpt/hrpt617/CRPT-116hrpt617.pdf)
  32. U.S. Department of State, “CAATSA/CRIEEA Section 232 Public Guidance,” accessed December 23, 2019. (https://www.state.gov/caatsa-crieea-section-232-public-guidance); U.S. Department of State, “Protecting Europe’s Energy Security Act (PEESA),” October 20, 2020. (https://www.state.gov/protecting-europes-energy-security-act-peesa)
  33. See, for example: John Hardie, “Treasury Targets Maduro’s Oil Lifeline,” Foundation for Defense of Democracies, February 24, 2020. (https://www.fdd.org/analysis/2020/02/24/treasury-targets-maduros-oil-lifeline); David Adesnik and Andrew Gabel, “U.S. Treasury Ramps Up Effort to Disrupt Syria-Iran Oil Trade,” Foundation for Defense of Democracies, November 30, 2018. (https://www.fdd.org/analysis/2018/11/30/u-s-treasury-ramps-up-effort-to-disrupt-syria-iran-oil-trade)
  34. U.S. Department of the Treasury, Press Release, “Treasury Sanctions Belarus Officials for Undermining Democracy,” October 2, 2020. (https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/sm1143); U.S. Department of the Treasury, Press Release, “Treasury Sanctions Additional Belarusian Regime Actors for Undermining Democracy,” December 23, 2020. (https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/sm1222)
  35. North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Public Diplomacy Division, Press Release, “Defence Expenditure of NATO Countries (2013-2019),” November 29, 2019. (https://www.nato.int/nato_static_fl2014/assets/pdf/pdf_2019_11/20191129_pr-2019-123-en.pdf); Ryan Heath, “8 NATO countries to hit defense spending target,” Politico, July 5, 2018. (https://www.politico.eu/article/nato-jens-stoltenberg-donald-trump-8-countries-to-hit-defense-spending-target)
  36. Susan B. Glasser, “Trump national security team blindsided by NATO speech,” Politico, June 5, 2017. https://www.politico.eu/article/trump-national-security-team-blindsided-by-nato-speech); John Wagner, “Trump says defending tiny NATO ally Montenegro could lead to World War III,” The Washington Post, July 18, 2018. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-says-defending-tiny-nato-ally-montenegro-could-lead-to-world-war-iii/2018/07/18/f7a09276-8a80-11e8-8aea-86e88ae760d8_story.html); Arne Delfs and Gregory Viscusi, “Merkel Says Europe Can’t Count on U.S. Military Umbrella Anymore,” Bloomberg News, May 10, 2018. (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-05-10/merkel-says-europe-can-t-count-on-u-s-military-umbrella-anymore)
  37. The White House, “Remarks by President Trump and President Duda of the Republic of Poland in Joint Press Conference,” June 24, 2020. (https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/remarks-president-trump-president-duda-republic-poland-joint-press-conference-3); Missy Ryan, Karen DeYoung, and Loveday Morris, “Pentagon plan will move troops from Germany to Italy, Belgium and back to U.S.,” The Washington Post, July 29, 2020. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/us-troop-withdrawal-germany/2020/07/29/f5d23982-d19f-11ea-af07-1d058ca137ae_story.html)
  38. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs A. Wess Mitchell, Testimony before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, August 21, 2018. (https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/CHRG-115shrg40552/html/CHRG-115shrg40552.htm)
  39. Leonid Bershidsky, “Trump Is Winning, Putin’s Losing in Global Arms Sales,” Bloomberg News, March 12, 2019. (https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2019-03-12/u-s-is-no-1-in-arms-sales-as-russia-loses-market-share?sref=3OIZCXOE); “Global arms industry: Sales by the top 25 companies up 8.5 per cent; Big players active in Global South,” Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, December 7, 2020. (https://www.sipri.org/media/press-release/2020/global-arms-industry-sales-top-25-companies-85-cent-big-players-active-global-south)
  40. U.S. Department of State, Office of the Spokesperson, Fact Sheet, “CAATSA Section 231 ‘Imposition of Sanctions on Turkish Presidency of Defense Industries,’” December 14, 2020. (https://www.state.gov/caatsa-section-231-imposition-of-sanctions-on-turkish-presidency-of-defense-industries)
  41. Ellen Nakashima, “Fewer opportunities and a changed political environment in the U.S. may have curbed Moscow’s election interference this year, analysts say,” The Washington Post, November 17, 2020. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/russia-failed-to-mount-major-election-interference-operations-in-2020-analysts-say/2020/11/16/72c62b0c-1880-11eb-82db-60b15c874105_story.html); Ellen Nakashima, “NSA and Cyber Command to coordinate actions to counter Russian election interference in 2018 amid absence of White House guidance,” The Washington Post, July 17, 2020. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/nsa-and-cyber-command-to-coordinate-actions-to-counter-russian-election-interference-in-2018-amid-absence-of-white-house-guidance/2018/07/17/baac95b2-8900-11e8-85ae-511bc1146b0b_story.html)
  42. Marc A. Thiessen, “Trump confirms, in an interview, a U.S. cyberattack on Russia,” The Washington Post, July 10, 2020. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/07/10/trump-confirms-an-interview-us-cyberattack-russia); Ken Dilanian, “Under Trump, U.S. military ramps up cyber offensive against other countries,” NBC News, June 23, 2019. (https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/national-security/under-trump-u-s-military-ramps-cyber-offensive-against-other-n1019281)
  43. Rebecca Ballhaus, “Trump Questions Finding of Russia’s 2016 Meddling as He Appears With Putin,” The Wall Street Journal, July 16, 2018. (https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-blames-u-s-for-poor-relations-with-moscow-1531732220); Ashley Parker, David Nakamura, and Karen DeYoung, “‘He said he didn’t meddle’: Trump talks with Putin about U.S. elections and Syria in brief interactions,” The Washington Post, November 11, 2017. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/he-said-he-didnt-meddle-trump-talks-with-putin-about-us-elections-and-syria-in-brief-interactions/2017/11/11/fbcfe4c2-c6ff-11e7-afe9-4f60b5a6c4a0_story.html); Matthew Nussbaum, “A look back at Trump’s statements on whether Russia meddled in the election,” Politico, July 13, 2018. (https://www.politico.com/story/2018/07/13/trump-statements-russia-meddling-719281)
  44. Jill Colvin and Matthew Lee, “Trump downplays Russia in first comments on hacking campaign,” Associated Press, December 19, 2020. (https://apnews.com/article/donald-trump-politics-mark-levin-coronavirus-pandemic-hacking-6080f156125a4a46edef2a6dcf826611)
  45. Dan Lamothe, “U.S. troops injured in altercation with Russian military patrol in Syria,” The Washington Post, August 27, 2020. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/us-troops-injured-russia-syria/2020/08/26/f49c99e4-e7df-11ea-a414-8422fa3e4116_story.html); “Russia Recruits Syrian Kurds to Replace U.S.-Led Forces – VOA,” The Moscow Times (Russia), December 20, 2019. (https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2019/12/20/russia-recruits-syrian-kurds-to-replace-us-led-forces-voa-a68701); Chloe Cornish, Laura Pitel, and Lauren Fedor, “Kurds strike deal with Russia and Syria to stem Turkish assault,” Financial Times (UK), October 13, 2019. (https://www.ft.com/content/8139b25e-eda6-11e9-ad1e-4367d8281195); James Laporta and Tom O’Connor, “Exclusive: U.S. Cedes Syrian City to Russia in Battlefield ‘Handover’ as Turkey Tries to Take It,” Newsweek, October 14, 2019. (https://www.newsweek.com/exclusive-washington-cede-syrian-city-russia-handover-turkey-tries-1465112)
  46. John Hardie, “Treasury Targets Maduro’s Oil Lifeline,” Foundation for Defense of Democracies, February 24, 2020. (https://www.fdd.org/analysis/2020/02/24/treasury-targets-maduros-oil-lifeline); U.S. Department of the Treasury, “Treasury Targets Additional Russian Oil Brokerage Firm for Continued Support of Maduro Regime,” March 12, 2020. (https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/sm937); U.S. Department of the Treasury, Press Release, “Treasury Targets Sanctions Evasion Network Supporting Corrupt Venezuelan Actors,” June 18, 2020. (https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/sm1038); “Rosneft’s Venezuelan oil cargoes canceled due to sanctions, tankers leave empty -data,” Reuters, March 28, 2020. (https://www.reuters.com/article/venezuela-russia-rosneft-tankers-idUSL1N2BL0AJ)
  47. Philip Zelikow, Eric Edelman, Kristofer Harrison, and Celeste Ward Gventer, “The Rise of Strategic Corruption: How States Weaponize Graft,” Foreign Affairs, July/August 2020. (https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2020-06-09/rise-strategic-corruption)
  48. “FSB Team of Chemical Weapon Experts Implicated in Alexey Navalny Novichok Poisoning,” Bellingcat (Netherlands), December 14, 2020. (https://www.bellingcat.com/news/uk-and-europe/2020/12/14/fsb-team-of-chemical-weapon-experts-implicated-in-alexey-navalny-novichok-poisoning); “‘If it Hadn’t Been for the Prompt Work of the Medics’: FSB Officer Inadvertently Confesses Murder Plot to Navalny,” Bellingcat (Netherlands), December 21, 2020. (https://www.bellingcat.com/news/uk-and-europe/2020/12/21/if-it-hadnt-been-for-the-prompt-work-of-the-medics-fsb-officer-inadvertently-confesses-murder-plot-to-navalny)
  49. “Merkel: Belarusian government must avoid violence and start national dialogue,” Reuters, August 18, 2020. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-belarus-election-merkel-putin/merkel-belarusian-government-must-avoid-violence-and-start-national-dialogue-idUSKCN25E146); Élysée Palace, “Entretien téléphonique du Président de la République avec le Président de la Fédération de Russie [Telephone interview between the President of the Republic and the President of the Russian Federation],” August 18, 2020. (https://www.elysee.fr/emmanuel-macron/2020/08/18/entretien-telephonique-du-president-de-la-republique-avec-le-president-de-la-federation-de-russie)
  50. Representative Eliot L. Engel and Representative Michael T. McCaul, Letter to President Donald Trump, September 8, 2020. (https://foreignaffairs.house.gov/_cache/files/8/7/876c8474-fecd-44c9-bac2-18227e5d523c/A48E156710159AE6D24B678557DFA785.9-3-2020.-ele-mcc-letter-to-white-house-navalny.pdf); Representative Eliot L. Engel and Representative Michael T. McCaul, Letter to President Donald Trump, December 10, 2020. (https://foreignaffairs.house.gov/_cache/files/c/d/cddb4e34-36cd-4c0a-a098-02cadbdbb8e7/96415F670A55959876BEED81DC09AEDF.12-10-2020.-ele-mcc-letter-to-white-house-navalny.pdf)
  51. Carol D. Leonnig, David Nakamura and Josh Dawsey, “Trump’s national security advisers warned him not to congratulate Putin. He did it anyway,” The Washington Post, March 20, 2018. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trumps-national-security-advisers-warned-him-not-to-congratulate-putin-he-did-it-anyway/2018/03/20/22738ebc-2c68-11e8-8ad6-fbc50284fce8_story.html)
  52. Morgan Chalfant, “Mystery surrounds elusive sanctions on Russia,” The Hill, July 18, 2019. (https://thehill.com/policy/national-security/453624-mystery-surrounds-elusive-sanctions-on-russia); Stephen F. Lynch, Letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, August 5, 2019. (https://oversight.house.gov/sites/democrats.oversight.house.gov/files/2019.08.05%20Lynch%20to%20Pompeo%20re%20Russia%20CBW%20Sanctions.pdf); John Bolton, The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir (New York City: Simon & Schuster, 2020) pages 180–181.
  53. See, for example: Michael Crowley and Maggie Haberman, “As Others Condemn Putin Critic’s Poisoning, Trump Just Wants to ‘Get Along,’” The New York Times, September 3, 2020. (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/03/us/politics/trump-russia-navalny-poisoning.html); President-elect Donald Trump, “Donald Trump’s New York Times Interview: Full Transcript,” Remarks during an interview with The New York Times, November 23, 2016. (https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/23/us/politics/trump-new-york-times-interview-transcript.html)
  54. For example, the United States and Russia both have an interest in discussing and potentially agreeing to mutual limitations on cyber operations targeting each other’s nuclear command and control systems, the intentions of which are impossible to ascertain with any certainty, and which could pose a serious risk to crisis stability. See: George Beebe, The Russia Trap: How Our Shadow War with Russia Could Spiral into Nuclear Catastrophe (New York City: Thomas Dunne Books, 2019).
  55. Bradley Bowman and Major Liane “Trixie” Zivitski, “New U.S. Weapon Strengthens Nuclear Deterrence of Moscow,” Foundation for Defense of Democracies, February 5, 2020. (https://www.fdd.org/analysis/2020/02/05/new-us-weapon-strengthens-nuclear-deterrence-of-moscow); Aaron Mehta, “The US Navy’s new nuclear cruise missile starts getting real next year,” Defense News, February 21, 2020. (https://www.defensenews.com/smr/nuclear-arsenal/2020/02/21/the-navys-new-nuclear-cruise-missile-starts-getting-real-next-year)
  56. Commander of U.S. European Command and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe General Todd Wolters, Testimony before the Senate Committee on Armed Services, February 25, 2020. (https://www.airuniversity.af.edu/Portals/10/JEMEAA/Journals/Volume-02_Issue-1/CLP%20Testimony.pdf)
  57. Lieutenant General (Ret.) Ben Hodges, “Strengthening NATO in the Black Sea Region,” Ed. Bradly Bowman, “Defending Forward: Securing America by Projecting Military Power Abroad,” Foundation for Defense of Democracies, December 15, 2020, pages 58–60. (https://www.fdd.org/analysis/2020/12/15/defending-forward)
  58. “FSB Team of Chemical Weapon Experts Implicated in Alexey Navalny Novichok Poisoning,” Bellingcat (Netherlands), December 14, 2020. (https://www.bellingcat.com/news/uk-and-europe/2020/12/14/fsb-team-of-chemical-weapon-experts-implicated-in-alexey-navalny-novichok-poisoning)
  59. EU Debates | eudebates.tv, “Alexei Navalny urges EU to sanction Russian oligarchs in Europe,” YouTube, November 27, 2020. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lxag9Vof-o4&t=0s); Benjamin Bidder and Christian Esch, Spiegel International (Germany), January 10, 2020. (https://www.spiegel.de/international/world/alexei-navalny-on-his-poisoning-i-assert-that-putin-was-behind-the-crime-a-ae5923d5-20f3-4117-80bd-39a99b5b86f4)
  60. Belarus’ top nine state-owned companies were designated in 2006 under Executive Order 13405 but received an exemption under General License No. 2G. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, “Chairman Hastings Asks Treasury Secretary to Revoke Access to U.S. Financial System for Largest State-Owned Companies in Belarus,” August 13, 2020. (https://www.csce.gov/international-impact/press-and-media/press-releases/chairman-hastings-asks-treasury-secretary-revoke); Executive Order 13405, “Blocking Property of Certain Persons Undermining Democratic Processes or Institutions in Belarus,” June 16, 2006. (https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2006/06/20/06-5592/blocking-property-of-certain-persons-undermining-democratic-processes-or-institutions-in-belarus)
  61. Tom Balmforth and Ilya Zhegulev, “Belarusian leader credits Russian TV for helping him survive media strike,” Reuters, September 2, 2020. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-belarus-election-russia-journalists/belarusian-leader-credits-russian-tv-for-helping-him-survive-media-strike-idUSKBN25T1GH)

Issues:

Russia