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After the Soviet Union’s breakup, Century work has promoted strategies for strengthening America’s relationship with Russia and the former republics.


Michael Cohen

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Michael Cohen is regular writer and commentator on American politics and U.S. foreign policy.


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  • Russia remains suspicious that the Western countries’ real interest is to overthrow a Russian ally.
    Jul 19, 2012
  • Jeffrey Laurenti quoted in Bloomberg.
    Jul 2, 2012
  • Kofi Annan was too diplomatic to say it in public, but his meaning as he “briefed” the United Nations General Assembly Thursday on the...
    Jun 7, 2012
  • Those who toil in the bowels of the threat industrial complex (trademark pending) have several tools at their disposal for hyping threats and...
    May 17, 2012
  • Vladimir Putin, Russia’s dominant political figure for more than a decade, has a distinctive gait. It is a strut, reflecting the cultivated...
    Jan 4, 2012
  • A set of policy papers intended to assess and critique the policy approaches of recent years and to propose a new framework for approaching U.S.-Russia relations.
    Oct 22, 2010
  • President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitri A. Medvedev resolved the last sticking points in their arms control negotiations and announced their intention to sign early next month a new treaty reducing American and Russian nuclear arsenals. The treaty announcement initiates a rapid succession of developments on the nuclear arms front:  NATO's reassessment of nuclear weapons' role in alliance strategic doctrine; a U.S. nuclear posture review that will presumably reflect Obama's Prague commitments; a summit on nuclear weapons issues that Obama will host in April; Security Council consideration of measures to rein in Iran's nuclear program; and the nuclear nonproliferation treaty (NPT) review conference in May.  
    Mar 29, 2010
  • The Century Foundation and the UNA-USA Southern New York State Division hosted the Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference, open to the public as the 2010 UNA-USA Members’ Day. Amid urgent public concerns about the world economic crisis, the dangers of nuclear weapons, and the continuing war in Afghanistan, the Year of Crises conference program featured the following elements: 
    Feb 19, 2010
  • When times are good, the United Nations provides a global stage to showcase cooperative efforts between Moscow and Washington to advance common interests. When times are bad, difficult bilateral relations take on an even more malignant cast as they are projected on the UN’s global screen and as each side seeks to caricature the other and to curry favor from the 190 other member states. Today, as Moscow and Washington struggle to adjust to changing times and to transitions in global geopolitics not of their making and not necessarily in the narrow interests of either capital, it is the complexity of their relationship that stands out. After years of frustrated relations, 2009 emerged as one of change, as the United States and the Russian Federation, each with new leadership and each in its own way, have sought to push the “restart button” on their bilateral relationship. As in earlier years of promise, the realization of change will no doubt come more gradually and grudgingly than the encouraging rhetoric. And as before, some of the more interesting developments will be played out at the United Nations and in other multilateral fora. These days, for two unavoidable and related reasons, the multilateral agenda has to be seen as unusually compelling, even to those cynics (or “realists”) in both capitals who have long regarded international law and institutions as little more than distractions from the core bilateral relationship. Download the PDF here.
    Jan 3, 2010
  • A couple of years after the collapse of the Soviet empire, I asked Adam Michnik, one of Poland's leading dissidents who had founded a major new newspaper, how he thought the country was doing. "Terribly," he said, describing factional squabbles among the emerging political parties and his growing disdain for Lech Wa sa, who had become Poland's president. He called him "Pi sudski without a horse," invoking the country's strongman of the 1920s and 1930s, a brief era of Polish inter-war independence ending with the Nazi invasion.
    Nov 17, 2009
  • As the Obama administration redirects U.S. policy on many fronts, the President’s declaration of a fresh start for relations between the United States and Russia has significant implications for the management of many critical issues. The roundtable will assess the direction of policy under the new administration in the week ahead of President Obama’s visit to Moscow, and it will explore the challenges and opportunities the two countries face on issues of mutual and global concern.
    Jun 22, 2009
  • The roundtable assessed the direction of policy under the new administration in the week ahead of President Obama’s visit to Moscow, and explored the challenges and opportunities the two countries face on issues of mutual and global concern.
    Jun 21, 2009
  • The roundtable assessed the direction of policy under the new administration in the week ahead of President Obama’s visit to Moscow, and explored the challenges and opportunities the two countries face on issues of mutual and global concern.
    Jun 21, 2009
  • The roundtable assessed the direction of policy under the new administration in the week ahead of President Obama’s visit to Moscow, and explored the challenges and opportunities the two countries face on issues of mutual and global concern.
    Jun 21, 2009
  • Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, every U.S. administration has considered Russia's political trajectory a national security concern. While the Obama administration plans to cooperate with Moscow on a number of issues, it will find that Russia's current deficit in the areas of democracy and the rule of law complicate the relationship and may, in some cases, undermine attempts at engagement. Results from nearly a dozen large, random sample surveys in Russia since 2001 that examine the views and experiences of literally thousands of Russians, combined with other research and newspaper reporting, all suggest the current democracy and rule of law deficit is rather stark. In this report, Sarah Mendelson assesses the political dynamics that have shaped Russia's authoritarian drift, addresses a few of the ways in which they matter for U.S. policy, and suggests several organizing principles to help the Obama administration manage this critical relationship. Download the PDF here.
    Jun 18, 2009
  • Since the Communist takeover of China in 1949, relations between Moscow and Beijing have alternated between a close partnership against a hostile or threatening United States and bitter estrangement that could allow Washington to play one against the other. Russia and China in recent years have drawn back together against perceived American overreaching, yet the rapidly rising economic strength and political influence of China also occasions disquiet in Russia. Its vast resource-rich but population-scarce territory of Siberia shares a long and still disputed border with an overpopulated China, providing an undercurrent of instability to the relationship between these giant neighbors. What are the strategic challenges that Russians see in China's breakneck rise, and what do they see as their opportunities? What shared interests do Moscow and Beijing see in Central Asia, in China’s western “autonomous” regions, and in offshore East Asia, and what opportunities and challenges do regional groupings like the Shanghai Cooperation Organization present to them—and to Washington? What are the two countries’ convergent (and at times divergent) concerns on vexing international issues in which the United States is engaged, both in the United Nations Security Council and outside? How can U.S. policymakers most successfully address the complex web of Russian interests vis-à-vis China to achieve greatest success on their own concerns, and how can progress on these issues strengthen U.S.-Russian cooperative relations in other areas? Download the PDF here.
    Jun 14, 2009
  • In Tuesday’s Washington Post a group of four liberal Russian intellectuals, Lev Gudkov, Igor Klyamkin, Georgy Satarov, and Lilia Shevtsova, wrote a pointed op-ed that took aim at what they perceive as the new realism animating U.S. policy on Russia. As part of this critique they singled out Thomas Graham’s recent Century Foundation report “Resurgent Russia and U.S. Purposes.” The writers object to “the basic proposition of calling for a return to realpolitik because some believe that the worsening of Russian-American relations was mainly caused by Washington's insistence on tying policies to values.”
    Jun 11, 2009
  • Issue to be addressed: Political Islam under the sway of fundamentalist radicals long posed a regional and a domestic security concern for Russia, of which the eagerness with which Russians embraced the Bush administration's counterterrorism agenda following September 11th was a testament. How widespread, and well-founded, is the Russian fear of increased Islamic radicalization in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Central Asia becoming a frontline Russian challenge when NATO forces exit Afghanistan? To what extent do American and Russian concerns about political Islamism still coincide, and how much do they diverge based on differing threat perceptions from various conflicts and regimes in the Middle East? Download the report.
    May 20, 2009
  • One of the most ominous issues which President-elect Barack Obama will face in his first months in office is the matter of the growing array of nuclear weapons around the globe. Today there are 27,000 nuclear weapons of various kinds in the world today – of which 26,000 belong to the US and Russia. How does this country work toward reducing the numbers of these dangerous devices to lower the possibility of nuclear mishaps and ward off the chances of accidental missile launches and prevent bombs like these from falling into the hands of terrorists?
    Nov 18, 2008
  • Vanity Fair’s annual listing of “The New Establishment” has a surprising number 1 this year: Vladimir Putin, prime minister of Russia. He beat out last year’s topper, Rupert Murdoch, with Sergey Brin, a Russian by birth and the co-founder of Google, at number 3. Number 8 is Roman Abramovich, one of a slew of new Russian billionaires who was up from number 30 on the strength, according to Vanity Fair, of his “investing and spending on a czar-like scale.” All in all, to Vanity Fair (and the compilers of a similar list at Esquire), today’s Russia is on a roll.
    Sep 22, 2008
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