HARVARD/ U.S. and Russian priorities for the bilateral agenda


Advice to President Trump on U.S.-Russia Policy:

“Wishful Thinking and Vital Interests,” Graham Allison, National Interest, 11.30.16: The author, a professor of government at Harvard’s Kennedy School and director of the school’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, advises President-elect Donald Trump to base his Russia policy on two factors: the steps necessary to best serve American vital interests and an understanding of how Russia sees “its place in the world and its relations with the U.S. and other great powers.” With accidental war between the two countries “the likeliest it’s been since the end of the Cold War,” communication and collaboration are necessary to avoid conflict: “Overturning President Obama’s ban on communication at every level from President-to-President to Secretaries of Defense and regional commanders; de-conflicting in Syria, multilateralization of U.S-Russian agreements on preventing military incidents and similar confidence-building measures in the military-to-military domain—all should help reduce the risk.” Deterring Russia from aggression against U.S. allies should continue, but with an eye toward the possible consequences of an alienated Russia, including a closer Russia-China relationship. The author also advises the next administration “to stop talking down to Russian leaders, whose policies, whether we like it or not, reflect the Russian public’s well-grounded wish to see their country become a great power again.” President-elect Trump’s administration would do well to adopt “a realist approach toward Russia,” acknowledging the unlikely possibility of another reset in the coming years, but still allowing “for continued talks on resolving the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria and for establishing rules of the game in the cyber domain.” The most important areas in which the U.S. should engage Moscow are “areas of mutual interest where Russia’s behavior can have a significant impact on U.S. national security, such as preventing accidental war and terrorist attacks and countering proliferation of nuclear weapons.”

“Small Steps or Grand Bargains?” Angela Stent, National Interest, 11.28.16: The author, a professor of government and foreign service, advises President-elect Donald Trump to keep a couple important facts in mind regarding his Russia policy. The first is that every new U.S. administration since 1991 has come into office looking to improve U.S.-Russia relations, only to have the attempt end in disappointment due to the two countries’ “very different understanding of what a productive relationship would look like.” The second is that Russian President Vladimir Putin has already made clear what he is looking for in a deal with the U.S.: “a reprise of the Yalta agreement that divides the world into spheres of influence and does not challenge what he considers are Russia’s legitimate interests.” The general outlines of this possible deal “might involve recognizing Crimea as part of Russia and lifting the economic sanctions on Russia imposed after the launch of a war in the Donbass that has claimed 10,000 lives so far. This would end the transatlantic consensus on Ukraine and remove a major source of tension with Russia. But what would the Russian quid pro quo be?” While Trump’s administration may not continue to maintain the current U.S. position that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must be removed from power, Russia’s priorities in Syria remain unclear, as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s attempts to cooperate with Russia on defeating the Islamic State have been unsuccessful. The author suggests that rather than going after “a Grand Bargain,” perhaps smaller steps are the way to begin. “The demonization of the United States is woven into the current fabric of the Russian body politic and will not easily be removed. But with pragmatic leaders in the White House and the Kremlin better ties might gradually be restored.” With the expiration of New START in 2021 and the uncertainty surrounding the INF treaty, “restarting arms control negotiations should be a priority.”

“The Current US Approach to Russia Has Failed: What Should Trump Do?,” Matthew Rojansky, National Interest, 11.30.16: The author, an expert on U.S. relations with former Soviet Union countries, argues that the focus America’s Russia policy should be on Russia, not Putin: “Putin stands in the mainstream of a centuries-old Russian foreign policy tradition and worldview and he enjoys broad elite support and popular consent in his policies.”  An approach that places Putin at the center, whether it is “premised mainly on ‘being tough’ with Putin or on charming him into making a deal, misses the point entirely.” Policy that expects Russia to either “change into a friendly democracy” or “be fully defeated and sidelined” has also not met with success. The author also argues that dialogue, “not for its own sake, but as an indispensable tool for advancing our national interests” needs to be reestablished. The need for “coordination and consistency on our side” is paramount. “The worst kind of policy is the kind that every official, politician and observer understands differently. The next president will need a trusted senior figure to ride herd on the U.S. bureaucracy, and to serve as the main channel between the White House and the Kremlin. That job is needed when relations are going well just as when they are going badly.”

“Draw Red Lines,” Steven Pifer, National Interest, 11.28.16: The author, a senior fellow at Brookings Institution, argues that U.S. President-elect Donald Trump needs to establish “clear policy lines” regarding Russia in the early days of his administration. These should reaffirm NATO’s decision to increase its military presence in eastern Europe, specifically Poland and the Baltic states, “coupled with an offer to explore ways to reduce tensions between the alliance and Moscow.” They should show support for Ukraine and the efforts to end the conflict in eastern Ukraine, as well as a “readiness to cooperate on areas where U.S. and Russian interests converge,” such as additional arms control measures. Regarding Syria, the author advises the incoming president “to decide American policy toward the Assad regime and opposition before engaging Russia.”

“Elevation and Calibration: A New Russia Policy for America,” Andrew C. Kuchins, Center on Global Interests, December 2016: The author, an expert on Russian foreign and domestic policies, argues that while the U.S. and Russia may not be “in a ‘new Cold War,’” the current tensions between the two are “potentially more dangerous.” “Both sides are pursuing nuclear modernization programs and remilitarizing Europe in the virtual absence of dialogue” on both issues. The hostile U.S.-Russia relationship is also further exacerbating post-Cold War threats to the U.S. The author advocates for a new policy towards Russia, as “the risks of escalation” outweigh the challenges of working with Moscow. Isolation and deterrence have not proven successful as they fuel “the ongoing security conflict while consolidating Moscow’s resolve around its chosen policy course.” Instead, a new Russia policy that “combines enhanced deterrence of Russia with deeper engagement to promote U.S. interests in the long-term” is needed. With a new administration comes the opportunity to evaluate the risks a hostile relationship with Russia poses to the U.S. and its allies, primarily nuclear risk and the current security dilemma. As arms control agreements collapse and bilateral nuclear discussions shut down, the U.S. and Russia find themselves “at the highest risk of nuclear conflict since 1983.” Both sides are “locked into the threat of mutually assured destruction (MAD), with short decision times in the event of a military escalation, accident, or misperception.” Regarding security, Washington and Moscow see “the efforts of the other side to enhance its national security as coming at its own expense.” This is most discernable in Europe, “where Russia and NATO view each other as a direct security threat.” This “renewed rivalry” presents a threat to the U.S., its European allies and particularly the countries caught between Russia and the alliance. The author recommends calibration and elevation to help ease the increasingly tense relationship. Elevating U.S.-Russia dialogue “to the level of sustained presidential engagement” alone may be enough to moderately diffuse tensions. The author argues that presidential engagement will “assuage Russia’s sense of status deprivation…and alleviate any concerns Putin may have about the U.S. desire for regime change.” This move would also make it more difficult “for the Kremlin to demonize U.S. policy and is justified by the magnitude of risks that a hostile Russia could pose on critical issues of nuclear security, terrorism, cyber security and European security.” Other recommendations include: “elevate and institutionalize a bilateral format for reducing the threat of international terrorism, beginning with addressing the threat of nuclear terrorism in third countries”; “revive the bilateral working group on cybersecurity issues established in 2013 and reaffirm each side’s commitment to the use of direct communication channels to reduce the risk of misperception, escalation and conflict in the case of a major cyber attack”; “ensure NATO capacity and reinforce Article V commitments to deter potential Russian aggression in Europe”; “lead the way in developing a new format for an agreement in Ukraine that includes the United States as a principal negotiator with Europe, Ukraine, and Russia” and “selectively re-open channels of communication that were closed after Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, beginning with the military-military track and the NATO-Russia Council.” Rather than “a ‘reset’ or a ‘strategic partnership,’” the author calls for “a reevaluation of the excessive risks the United States is running with the current downward trajectory of U.S.-Russia relations.” Although “no quick fix or ‘grand bargain’” will save current relations, it is important to remember that “a stronger U.S.-Russia relationship in the long term would be a net positive for the security of the United States and its allies, as well as for global security at large.” The author advises the U.S. to be forceful on areas where cooperation is possible, while endeavoring to ease the risks of conflict on issues of disagreement. “There will likely come a time when either Putin or a successor will be more focused on the domestic challenges of modernization in Russia, and stronger ties with the United States and the West will be essential for that task.”

“Put Russia into Context,” Paul J. Saunders, National Interest,11.28.16: The author, executive director of the Center for the National Interest, recommends that the incoming administration address the “increasingly dangerous interactions that could lead to direct conflict between U.S. and Russian military forces” as top priority, and to also reevaluate “U.S. aims in dealing with Moscow” in addition to looking at new ways of approaching the Syrian and Ukrainian crises. Broadening “U.S.-Russian military-to-military contacts” would avoid unintended conflict in Syria and fix on limits “to provocative conduct along European-Russian frontiers, especially that involving close encounters between NATO and Russian forces in the air and at sea,” beginning with mutual restraint in executing risky operations that are “technically permissible.” Prior to engaging Moscow in dialogue on Ukraine and Syria, the U.S. should assess its own national interests in the two countries. U.S. allies in Europe and the Middle East should also be consulted on these issues before the new administration begins any negotiations with Russia. The author also recommends that the administration consider its Russia policy in the broader context of its greater foreign-policy objectives. Maintaining a stable international system led by the U.S. “will be substantially more difficult if the current Russian rapprochement with China continues, aligning Beijing and Moscow in opposition to the existing order and allowing for both political and policy coordination and high-tech arms sales.”

“Keep the Future in Mind,” Ian Bremmer, National Interest, 11.28.16: The author, a political scientist, cautions President-elect Donald Trump to gradually remove sanctions on Russia, “in exchange for Russian concessions of some kind,” however unsatisfactory those concessions may be compared to Washington’s “best-case scenarios.” The administration should consult America’s European allies, particularly Germany, prior to making any changes to the U.S.-Russia relationship, as well as prior to making any adjustments to the U.S. approach in Syria. The author suggests that the new administration make Ukraine “a bridge between Russia and Europe rather than just another bit player in a bid to expand Western values to the East.” The “cartoonish view of predatory China” that President-elect Trump turned to during his campaign should be dropped in order to not drive Russia and China further together. As Russia has entered into a period of economic decline brought on primarily by a failure to modernize and diversify its economy, “Trump’s wisest strategy is to stay out of Putin’s way as Russian power decays from within.”

“Donald Trump Must Offer an Olive Branch to Russia ‘To Test the Art of the Possible’,” Michael Kofman, National Interest, 11.30.16: The author, an expert on security and defense, argues that the new U.S. administration’s top priority vis-à-vis Russia is “to arrest the deteriorating relationship” and “reestablish military contacts” that aim to minimize dangerous and provoking behavior. In order to stabilize the relationship with Russia, it is necessary to resolve the two primary “destabilizing issues in the relationship: Ukraine and sanctions.” “The U.S. cannot expect to confront Russia on its core interests, while seeking cooperation elsewhere on its own.” Such unresolved policy contradictions will undermine any agreement with Russia. As such, the next administration needs to “lay out a vision that returns Russia to the international system, restores stability to European security and finds a framework of interaction with Moscow that contributes to U.S. policy interests elsewhere.”

“Continue the Unfinished Business of Integrating Russia into the Global Economy,” J. Andrew Spindler, National Interest, 12.02.16: The author, an expert on international finance, argues that renewing Western economic engagement in Russia would increase, not decrease the West’s influence. A more robust Russian economy would empower the country’s currently weak middle class, which “in turn, would likely generate new domestic pressure on the Kremlin to move economic concerns up the political agenda.” With time, this could result in “a Kremlin leadership with a much stronger self-interest in vibrant economic ties with the West, and greater interest in cooperative international behavior.” The author notes that U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s call to renew economic activity in Russia “should not be viewed as an endorsement of Russian foreign-policy actions,” but rather as “a pragmatic step to promote the well-being of ordinary Russians as well as increase the linkages between Russian economic performance and the country’s ties with the West.”

Nuclear security:

“Who killed the US-Russia plutonium agreement, and does it really matter?” Darya Dolzikova, BAS, 12.01.16: The author, a graduate student in security studies, argues that the U.S. can draw important lessons from the suspension of the U.S.-Russia plutonium disposition agreement. First, “disagreements over a document’s terms or conditions need to be addressed as they come up … Had Washington acknowledged and addressed its inability to finance its MOX program in 2010, when the administration in Moscow was still amenable to negotiation…perhaps a middle ground could have been reached.” By the time the issue was raised, relations between the two countries had deteriorated. Insurmountable costs necessitated that the U.S. change its disposition method, leaving Russia quite free to suspend “an agreement that had already been violated.” The challenges of agreeing on a single disposition method also “highlight the importance of setting clear objectives, metrics and compliance standards from the very start.” A lack of clear objectives allowed both countries to interpret the agreement differently. These issues highlight the need for strong, open communication throughout the implementation of an agreement. “Had the Obama administration been more diligent in keeping the Kremlin informed, and possibly even involved, in the evaluation process that led to the U.S. decision to switch to the D&D method, Moscow would have had less cause to suspect Washington of ill intent, and fewer credible excuses to withdraw from the plutonium agreement.” The author argues that the failure of this agreement “is symptomatic of much deeper issues in the Russo-American relationship.” Because Russia cannot match the U.S. “in conventional or nuclear military power,” Moscow resorts to “asymmetrical tactics,” such as threats to dissolve agreements or to withdraw from Western institutions. “At the moment, the greatest threat is to American credibility, and to Washington’s ability to reassure allies that it can still control the future of critical international security initiatives.” U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s apparent desire to reestablish favorable relations with Russia might mean greater cooperation from Moscow.

Iran and its nuclear program:

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New Cold War/Sabre Rattling:

“A Strong and Balanced Approach to Russia. The United States does not seek a new cold war with Russia. But the United States will defend its allies and partners, and the principled international order,” Ash Carter, Survival, 11.21.16: The author, the U.S. Secretary of Defense, writes that Russia’s leading role in the post-Cold War international system was not a surprise given its “proven capabilities, unique and proud history and dynamic people.” Recently, however, Russian actions have been undermining the very system it helped build then. In Europe, Russia’s actions are “reminiscent of the nineteenth century” rather than “of the modern international community.” “Russia has used its political, economic and military power to undermine the sovereignty and territorial integrity” of former Soviet Republics, disregarded “accepted international principles” and “violated international agreements to which Russia is a party.” Russia has attempted to intimidate its Baltic and Scandinavian neighbors and has sought “to foster division in Europe and undermine institutions such as NATO and the European Union.” Cyberspace has also seen violations of international principles perpetrated by “Russian actors.” In Syria, “Russia has been throwing gasoline on an already devastating fire, prolonging a civil war that fuels the very extremism Russia claims to oppose.” This military campaign has isolated Russia even further “and employed tactics with unspeakable civilian costs.” Meanwhile, Russia has been modernizing its military capabilities and using them “in provocative and destabilizing ways,” such as carrying out military exercises on its neighbors’ borders. “Finally, and most disturbing of all, Russia is behaving irresponsibly and aggressively with respect to nuclear weapons.” “Sabre-rattling” in Moscow along with “new nuclear-weapons systems, raises serious questions about its leaders’ commitment to strategic stability, their regard for the long-established abhorrence of brandishing nuclear weapons as tools of intimidation and whether they respect the profound caution that Cold War-era leaders showed with respect to using nuclear weapons.” This is evident in the “dangerous statements” of Russian leaders regarding the use of nuclear weapons to deter the U.S. from assisting its European allies in a potential war. Russia’s withdrawn from the plutonium disposition agreement and its undermining of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty further supports this. “In the face of Russia’s aggressive behavior, the United States will ensure that Russia cannot drag the US and the international community back to a darker past, while seeking to preserve the possibility that we can move forward again together into a brighter and more cooperative future.” While the U.S. does not seek war with Russia or see it as an enemy, it “will defend its allies, the principled international order and the positive future that order affords all of us.” While U.S.-Russia cooperation may be curtailed at present by significant disagreements, “Russia is simply too big, too powerful and potentially too dangerous to be ignored or fully isolated.” As such, work towards cooperation on mutual interests and hope for future partnership will continue.

NATO-Russia relations:

“Does NATO Need Montenegro?” Charles V. Peña, National Interest, 11.28.16: The author, a political scientist, argues that “the tiny Balkan nation of Montenegro” does not contribute to NATO’s or U.S. security. With a GDP of $4 billion, Montenegro makes up an “infinitesimal” part of the $17 trillion combined GDP of NATO’s European members. “NATO would be better off getting all of its member nations to meet the 2% of GDP defense spending requirement.” The Montenegrin military, “consisting of some 2,000 active duty service members” also does not contribute much. “From a U.S. perspective, adding a country like Montenegro to NATO is a negative prospect.” Its addition would not add real military or economic capability, and “under NATO’s Article V, the United States could be obligated to defend a country that is irrelevant to U.S. national security.” Even if Russia were to invade Montenegro, U.S national security would not be threatened. “So why should the United States risk war with a foreign power— including Russia—over a country that doesn’t matter to U.S. security? Moreover, Montenegro would be yet another European country not spending 2% of its GDP on defense—meaning even more freeriding at U.S. taxpayer expense.”

Missile defense:

“Trump Should Halt US Missile-Defense Plans in Europe,” Joe Cirincione and Tytti Erästö, DefenseOne, 11.28.16: The authors, both experts focusing on global security, note that a constant in U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s foreign-policy views has been a desire for favorable relations with Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin clearly favored Trump during the U.S. election, “but a Putin-Trump bromance and shared business interests can only take this so far.” Trump will need to address Moscow’s concerns regarding U.S. missile defense in Europe to warm relations with Russia. While current systems “are widely considered ineffective,” technological developments that make missile interceptors more reliable are a point of concern for Russia. “They fear effective defenses could undermine their country’s nuclear deterrent, making it vulnerable to a U.S. first strike.” The U.S.-NATO missile defense project has been of particular concern to Moscow. Calls “for legal guarantees that the system not be directed against Russia” have been ignored, leading to Russia’s growing frustration in recent years. While “the original rationale for NATO’s anti-missile system was defense against long-range, nuclear-armed missiles” from Iran, the 2015 nuclear accord has left Iran unable to produce material for a nuclear bomb and its “missiles remain limited to medium-range.” “However…NATO’s missile defense project keeps going even as its grounds disappear.” If Iran were to break from the nuclear deal, the two years it would take to produce one nuclear warhead “would leave ample time for NATO to respond later.” “NATO officials now justify the project in terms of the generic threat of missile proliferation…They fail to mention that the only country with intermediate-range missiles capable of reaching Europe is Israel. In short, there is no security rationale behind NATO’s current missile defense policy.” The incoming president therefore has a unique chance to stop the construction of the Polish missile interceptor site. This action could not only start “correcting past mistakes,” but it could also “pave the way for dramatic nuclear reductions.”

Nuclear arms control:

“Order from Chaos: The Trump administration and nuclear arms control treaties,” Steven Pifer, Brookings Institution, 12.02.16: The author, a senior fellow at the think-tank, argues convincingly against a recent Heritage Foundation issue brief on nuclear weapons policy that advocates for America to withdraw from New START and the INF treaty and to end consideration of ratification for the CTBT. “Before undoing these deals,” he writes, “President-elect Trump should consider the consequences for U.S. national security. For one thing, the recommendations could prompt a new arms race—and give Russia a big head-start. That does not seem wise.” For example, “by all appearances, Moscow has sized its strategic modernization program to fit within the limits of New START. If Washington withdraws from the treaty, Russia has the option of continuing production of new missiles and submarines on already hot production lines.” On the INF, “the Heritage recommendation seems to miss several key points,” among them the effect of withdrawal on European and Asian allies and the secrecy surrounding U.S. allegations of a Russian violation of the treaty, which gives Russia plausible deniability and would make it easy to put the blame for letting the treaty fail on the U.S.


  • No significant commentary.

Conflict in Syria:

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Cyber security:

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Energy exports from CIS:

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U.S.-Russian economic ties:

  • No significant commentary.

U.S.-Russian relations in general:

 “Putin didn’t undermine the election. We did,” Katrina vanden Heuvel, Washington Post, 11.29.16: The author, editor of The Nation magazine, argues that anything Russia may have done to discredit the legitimacy of U.S. democracy and presidential elections pales in comparison to the damage America itself has done to these institutions. She writes of the nastiness of the campaign and also that “our election system is embarrassing not for anything Putin allegedly did. In the ‘world’s strongest democracy,’ this is the second presidential election in the past five in which the winner of the popular vote has lost. In U.S. elections, money talks louder than elsewhere, simply because we spend so much more of it—a record $6.8 billion spent in the 2016 presidential and congressional elections. Yet our turnout—58 percent of eligible voters this year—is among the lowest of all democracies’. It is only in U.S. elections that money is considered protected speech and corporations pass for people.” The author also points to recent restrictions on voting rights.

II. Russia’s relations with other countries:

General developments and “far abroad” countries:

“Putin as Bismarck: Ehud Barak on West’s Russia Blind Spots, the Middle East and More,” Russia Matters, 11.28.16: Israel’s former prime minister and defense minister gives a far-ranging interview challenging many aspects of the Washington consensus, giving his views about everything from America’s missed opportunities in Syria to the West’s misreading and “demonization” of Russia. He speaks at length of President Vladimir Putin, whom he knows “quite well” and compares to the German statesman Otto von Bismarck: “an extremely realpolitik player. He’s very cerebral, but with very good intuition for people’s underlying emotions. He’s also extremely practical and much less ideological than others.” Barack points out that people in the West strongly believe that the strength of open societies comes from their very openness and the rights and freedoms it involves, but in fact, contrary to widespread belief, WWII did not prove that democracies are superior to autocracies: “It was the Red Army that broke the backbone of the Nazi war machine. There were two dictatorships that clashed and one destroyed the other, at a huge price.” He points out that Westerners underestimate other forces that hold societies together. In the interview Barack also speaks of Ukraine and Russia’s perceptions of the conflict.


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“Ukraine Prepares for Trump. Letter From Kiev,” Isaac Webb, Foreign Affairs, 11.29.16: The author, a writer and analyst in Kiev, writes that two days after Donald Trump was elected U.S. president “the head of Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau … announced that his office would end its investigation of Paul Manafort, a former chairman of Trump’s campaign who is still in contact with the president-elect’s team. Ukrainian officials previously alleged that Manafort had been designated to receive undisclosed cash payments totaling $12.7 million from former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s Party of Regions. … Kiev hopes to establish a relationship with the incoming Trump administration that will ensure that Ukraine continues to receive the support it has enjoyed during the presidency of Barack Obama. … With U.S. sanctions on Russia up for annual review in March, Kiev has little time to try to persuade Trump to modify the foreign-policy agenda he articulated during his campaign and to ensure that his declarations of admiration for Putin do not turn into a policy of appeasement. … Ultimately, Ukraine’s efforts to safeguard U.S. aid and Western sanctions are stopgaps. In the longer term, Kiev needs to address its deeper problems with corruption, cronyism and government mismanagement, which have plagued the country for the last 25 years.”

Russia’s other post-Soviet neighbors:

  • No significant commentary.

III. Russia’s domestic policies

Domestic politics, economy and energy:

“Putin’s Great Patriotic Pseudoscience: Russia has a proud history of scientific inquiry and advancement. Now the Kremlin is investing in academic kooks and conspiracies,” Maria Antonova, Foreign Policy, 11.29.16: The author, a Moscow-based reporter for the AFP, details the Russian state’s recent embrace of politically convenient pseudoscientists and the pushback from the scientific community in a “land that has produced some 17 Nobel Prize winners in the sciences.” Among the author’s examples: Irina Yermakova, a biologist who believes “that men, as a sex, evolved from early hermaphrodite Amazonians,” appears regularly on Russian national television and has supported populist lawmakers by “claiming that genetically modified foods are actually an American bioweapon aimed at committing genocide against Russia”; “the Kremlin’s ombudswoman for children, Anna Kuznetsova, … [who] reportedly believes in telegony—the archaic theory that a woman’s child bears the traits of all her past sexual partners”; and Mikhail Kovalchuk, a physicist from Vladimir Putin’s inner circle (Kovalchuk’s brother, Yuri, has been called the “personal banker” to senior Russian officials by the U.S. government) who presides over an eminent nuclear-energy research institution and “gave a presentation to Russian senators warning that the global elite, overseen by the United States, is developing a special human subspecies—a genetically different caste of laboring ‘servant people’ who eat little, think small and reproduce only on command.” Opponents of the trend have made several attempts to fight it. The Academy of Sciences rejected Kovalchuk as a member; this and other moves against him “are believed to have led to a backlash in 2013, when the Russian government moved to dismantle the institution.” In October the scientific community inaugurated an “honorary member of the pseudoscience academy” award, which went to Yermakova. “In September, the Russian Academy of Sciences’ special commission to fight Russian pseudoscience published a report that found that its rise was in part tied to the country’s growing isolation and nationalism. … A group of online vigilantes has been exposing widespread fraud in Russian Ph.D. dissertations since 2013 as part of a project called Dissernet.” The targets of the exposes are often lawmakers and government “experts.” Meanwhile, writes the author, “the growing link between nationalism and pseudoscience has allowed pseudoscientists to accuse their critics of being unpatriotic Russophobes” and, “in addition to creating a climate that supports pseudoscience, the Kremlin seems to be making efforts to cut off legitimate Russian researchers from the outside world.”

Defense and aerospace:

  • No significant commentary.

Security, law-enforcement and justice:

  • No significant commentary.