Based in the Institute's Washington DC office, the IISS Russia and Eurasia Programme (REP) focuses on the politics, political economy, and international relations of Russia and the other states of post-Soviet Eurasia. Events in Ukraine since February 2014 have been a catalyst for renewed interest in the region, both in NATO capitals and beyond. As a result, the vast majority of research output since then has focused on various aspects of the Ukraine crisis, particularly its causes and consequences. The crisis has also dominated REP programming at the IISS–Americas: public lectures delivered by current and former policymakers have been among the most well attended events in the office, and private roundtables featuring prominent Russian and Ukrainian experts added insight to the Washington debate.
The Ukraine crisis undermined most of the assumptions that undergird Western policy toward Russia, Ukraine, and post-Soviet Eurasia as a whole. The crisis has raised vexing dilemmas both for the short term – how to determine an immediate policy response – and on the strategic level: how to understand the far-reaching implications of the crisis for the regional order and the international system. Fundamental questions are being asked about Russia's future intentions toward its neighbours and beyond. What are Russia's motives in Ukraine? Is Ukraine a one-off unique case or the beginning of a period of sustained aggression? What are the implications for the future direction of Russian foreign, security and domestic policies?
The programme has developed short- and long-term projects designed to illuminate the underlying causes of the crisis and its implications for the future. Dr Samuel Charap, Senior Fellow for Russia and Eurasia, recently co-authored an Adelphi book entitled Everyone Loses: The Ukraine Crisis and the Ruinous Contest for Post-Soviet Eurasia. REP staff also continue to research the impact of the crisis on the future regional order in Eastern Europe.
In April 2016, the REP concluded a 30-month Carnegie Corporation of New York-funded project entitled, 'The US and Russia in the Asia-Pacific.' The IISS partnered with the Primakov Institute of World Economy and International Relations of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO) on the project. The project brought together Asia-Pacific regional experts from the US and Russia – who did not normally interact with one another – to discuss key regional security issues. The project focused on the following themes: increasing understanding of the two countries' respective Asia 'pivots'; devising recommendations for minimising bilateral confrontation in the Asia-Pacific and managing interaction in those forums where the two countries will be forced to interact; exploring the implications of the Ukraine crisis for US and Russian policy in the Asia-Pacific; and outlining an agenda for regional cooperation for a future period when the political climate allows for it. In total, four workshops were held, two in Moscow and two in Washington, DC.
The programme is also pursuing work on the future of US–Russia nuclear deterrence. The proposed year-long project would culminate in a research product that chronicles the development of the deterrence paradigm in the US–Soviet/Russian strategic dyad, assesses the costs and benefits of that paradigm today, and suggests a coherent alternative to it.