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Worldwide Threat Assessment on Russia: 2019 vs 2018

Worldwide Threat Assessment on Russia: 2019 vs 2018

February 01, 2019The latest Worldwide Threat Assessment, released this week by the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence, describes Russia as a major threat to U.S. interests not just in its own right but particularly in tandem with China—a pairing mentioned about twice as often as in last year’s assessment. The first half of the foreword focuses solely on these two countries and the 2019 document even has a new section called “China and Russia”—listed in first place among eight “Regional Threats.” The authors anticipate that Beijing and Moscow “will collaborate to counter US objectives” across the globe, striving for “technological and military superiority” and posing “economic, political, counterintelligence, military, and diplomatic challenges,” including attempts to use “rising doubts” about liberal democracy to their advantage. The assessment likewise points to the “disturbing” trend of “hostile states … intensifying online efforts to influence and interfere with elections here and abroad.”

More generally, this year’s assessment also places a greater emphasis on Moscow’s global ambitions, ranging from Africa and Latin America to the Balkans and Southeast Asia. (That said, Ukraine gets only five mentions in 2019 vs. 10 in 2018, although this year’s report is 50 percent longer.) Other notable differences between the two assessments arise in the areas of cyber threats and weapons of mass destruction. In the former, the 2019 document’s authors express heightened concerns about Russian threats to U.S. critical infrastructure, including power grids; in terms of WMD, they assess that Russia—not linked explicitly to chemical weapons in 2018—was among the countries that “have used chemical weapons on the battlefield or in assassination operations during the past two years,” the latter almost certainly a reference to the March 2018 assassination attempt against former double agent Sergei Skripal in England.

Below we give a run-down of the most salient differences between this year’s assessment and last year’s. The referenced sections appear in the same order as in the 2019 document.

Russia in 2019: What Lies Ahead?

Russia in 2019: What Lies Ahead?

February 01, 2019Join PONARS Eurasia for a policy workshop on security, politics, economics and society in Russia.

Daniel Treisman: Informational Autocrats

Daniel Treisman: Informational Autocrats

February 13, 2019Join NYU's Jordan Center for a talk with Daniel Treisman, University of California, Los Angeles, on “informational autocrats” with a special focus on one of the pioneers of this form: Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

Taboo in Russia: Banned or Suppressed Issues

Taboo in Russia: Banned or Suppressed Issues

February 06, 2019Join NYU's Jordan Center for a lecture and Q&A session with Dmitry Bykov on issues that are suppressed or banned and how these issues impact contemporary Russian politics.

Can U.S.-Russia Relations Be Reset?

Can U.S.-Russia Relations Be Reset?

April 25, 2019Join the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI) for a talk with Col. Robert Hamilton (U.S. Army, Ret.) on U.S.-Russian relations in the Trump administration. 

Russia's Policy in Afghanistan

Russia's Policy in Afghanistan

February 06, 2019Join the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) for a talk with Jeffrey Mankoff and Ivan Safranchuk on Russian policy regarding Afghanistan.

The Kremlin and Its Ideological Toolbox

The Kremlin and Its Ideological Toolbox

February 05, 2019Join the Wilson Center for a talk with Maria Lipman on the Kremlin's "ideological entrepreneurs" and the components of the Kremlin's ideological operation.