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Simon Saradzhyan

Mailing address

One Brattle Square 525
79 John F. Kennedy St, Mailbox 134
Cambridge, MA, 02138

Simon Saradzhyan

Director, Russia Matters Project; Assistant Director, U.S.-Russia Initiative to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Contact:
Telephone: 617-496-8228
Fax: 617-496-0606
Email: simon_saradzhyan@hks.harvard.edu

 

Experience

Simon Saradzhyan is the founding director of the Russia Matters Project at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. Mr. Saradzhyan also helps advance the center’s U.S.-Russia Initiative to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism. His research interests include international arms control, counterterrorism, and foreign, defense, and security policies of Russia and other post-Soviet states and their relations with great powers.

Prior to joining the Belfer Center in 2008 as a full-time research fellow, Saradzhyan had worked as a researcher, consultant and journalist in Russia for 15 years.

As a reporter, Saradzhyan covered a number of milestone security events in Russia on the ground, including the October 1993 coup and the 1999 apartment bombings in Moscow. As an editor at The Moscow Times, he led coverage of dramatic events in Russia such as the Dubrovka and Beslan hostage-taking crises. He also worked as Moscow correspondent for Defense News and Space News. He has contributed scores of news articles to other publications, ranging from the Times of London to Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozrenie, earning a certificate of merit from the commander of the Russian Strategic Missile Forces for his coverage of Russia's military affairs.

While in Russia, Saradzhyan also served as a senior fellow at the East West Institute and worked as a consultant for the United Nations and World Bank. As a researcher, he was the first in Russia to catalogue the threat of nuclear and radioactive terrorism posed by the North Caucasus-based terrorist groups and outline recommendations on how to reduce this threat in a paper published at the Belfer Center in 2002. He also initiated the first ever joint threat assessment of nuclear terrorism by U.S. and Russian experts published by the Belfer Center in 2011.

Saradzhyan is the author of a number of scholarly papers, articles, and book chapters on counterterrorism and arms control, including "Russia: Grasping Reality of Nuclear Terror," published in the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science; "Russia's System to Combat Terrorism and Its Application in Chechnya," published in the “National Counter-Terrorism Strategies” of NATO Security through Science Series; "Russia's Non-strategic Nuclear Weapons in Their Current Configuration and Posture: A Strategic Asset or Liability?" and "Russia's Support for Zero: Tactical Move or Long-term Commitment?" published by the Belfer Center.

In his capacity as an expert at the Belfer Center on post-Soviet space, Saradzhyan has published op-eds in Financial Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, and The National Interest as well as in leading Russian and Armenian journals. He has appeared on BBC, CBSNPR, and Al Jazeera as well as on Russian radio and television stations to comment on Russia’s foreign policy, the conflict in Ukraine and other issues.

Saradzhyan has testified in person and via video-link at hearings on nuclear terrorism and violent extremism at hearings held at the U.S. House of Representatives and Canadian Senate.

Saradzhyan has also presented his research at various international conferences, including the European Union Institute for Security Studies' annual conference and the EastWest Institute's annual Worldwide Security Conference. He co-founded and served as the first president of Harvard Club of Russia in 2004-2006. Saradzhyan earned a Masters in Public Administration at the John F. Kennedy School of Government in 2002.

 

 

By Date

 

2016

November 16, 2015

Russia’s Actions in Syria: Underlying Interests and Policy Objectives

Presentation

By Simon Saradzhyan, Director, Russia Matters Project; Assistant Director, U.S.-Russia Initiative to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Russia’s national interests in Syria do not hinge on continuation of Bashir al-Assad’s rule. Therefore, Vladimir Putin could be prepared let Assad go as long as Russia has a say in transition to the new government in Syria and that government agrees to honor Russia’s national interests at stake.

 

2015

December 1, 2015

The U.S.-Russia Initiative to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism Newsletter: October-November 2015

Newsletter

By Simon Saradzhyan, Director, Russia Matters Project; Assistant Director, U.S.-Russia Initiative to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Members of the initiative weigh in on prospects of international counter-terrorism cooperation in Syria and elsewhere; belfer center experts continue to assess implication of Iran’s nuclear programl; Elbe Group meets 7th time to discuss countering nuclear terrorism, other issues on bilateral agenda, and more.

 

 

 

Alexei Druzhinin, RIA-Novosti, Kremlin Pool

November 11, 2015

Putin Should Make Assad an Offer He Can’t Refuse

Op-Ed, Financial Times

By Simon Saradzhyan, Director, Russia Matters Project; Assistant Director, U.S.-Russia Initiative to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

To hear some Russia watchers say it, Vladimir Putin will fight to the last Russian air bomb to keep Bashar al-Assad of Syria in power. But will he?

I argue not only that Putin could and should let Assad go, but also that Putin’s own record of behind-the-door diplomacy offers a clue as to how the Syrian dictator could step aside without losing face.

 

 

commons.wikimedia.org

October 21, 2015

"Russia’s Interest in Syria is Not Assad"

Op-Ed, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

By Simon Saradzhyan, Director, Russia Matters Project; Assistant Director, U.S.-Russia Initiative to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

When trying to underscore the difficulty of predicting the Kremlin’s next steps, many Westerners like to cite Winston Churchill’s famous reference to Russia as “riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” Few however, recall the remainder of that 1939 adage: “But perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest.”

 

 

October 15, 2015

The U.S.-Russia Initiative to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism Newsletter: July-October 2015

Newsletter

By Simon Saradzhyan, Director, Russia Matters Project; Assistant Director, U.S.-Russia Initiative to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Belfer Center Experts Call for U.S.-Russian Cooperation against ISIS and Assess Iran deal; Graham Allison Briefs National Security Fellows on Threat of Nuclear Terrorism; Moldovan Authorities and FBI Have Interrupted Four Nuclear Smuggling Attempts; Last HEU Removed From Uzbekistan; and Russia Conducts a Nuclear Terrorism Exercise.

 

 

September 30, 2015

"U.S. and Russia Share a Vital Interest in Countering Terrorism"

Testimony

By Simon Saradzhyan, Director, Russia Matters Project; Assistant Director, U.S.-Russia Initiative to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Simon Saradzhyan testified before the U.S. House of Representatives' Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats Subcommittee Hearing on "The Threat of Islamist Extremism in Russia," on September 30, 2015. 

In his testimony, Saradzhyan asked: "Can the United States and Russia cooperate against the threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and other international terrorist organizations, even though the bilateral relationship has deteriorated in the wake of the crisis in Ukraine? My answer is they can and they will if they act in their best interest."

 

 

August 10, 2015

"Putin’s Change of Heart on Assad Could Pave Way for Cooperation against ISIL"

Op-Ed, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

By Simon Saradzhyan, Director, Russia Matters Project; Assistant Director, U.S.-Russia Initiative to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

There have emerged multiple signs this summer that Russia’s Vladimir Putin may be reconsidering expediency of continued support for Syria’s Bashir Al-Assad. If these signs do reflect a shift in the Russian leader’s position on Syria, then it would enhance chances of finding a compromise solution on transition of power in Damascus in what would strengthen multilateral efforts to stabilize this country and rout the Islamic State.There have emerged multiple signs this summer that Russia’s Vladimir Putin may be reconsidering expediency of continued support for Syria’s Bashir Al-Assad. If these signs do reflect a shift in the Russian leader’s position on Syria, then it would enhance chances of finding a compromise solution on transition of power in Damascus in what would strengthen multilateral efforts to stabilize this country and rout the Islamic State.

 

 

July 14, 2015

The U.S.-Russia Initiative to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism Newsletter: May – June 2015

Newsletter

By Simon Saradzhyan, Director, Russia Matters Project; Assistant Director, U.S.-Russia Initiative to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Belfer Center experts testify in U.S. Senate on Iran’s nuclear program; American and Russian experts weigh in on dangers of confrontation between U.S. and Russia; Obama’s letter draws the line under Megatons to Megawatts program; NNSA plans to spend $60 million on nuclear security in Russia.

 

 

May 10, 2015

Russia and the U.S.: are national interests so different?

Op-Ed, Russia in Global Affairs

By Simon Saradzhyan, Director, Russia Matters Project; Assistant Director, U.S.-Russia Initiative to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Russian vital interests partially diverge with those of U.S. only in two domains, while either converging in other areas or having no equivalent on the U.S. side. Theoretically, such a convergence of vital interests could pave for mending of fences between the two countries with the joint countering of the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda being the most evident opportunity to initiate such a rapprochement. In reality, West’s concerns with Russia’s actions in Ukraine and their repercussions for collective security in Europe, Russia’s concerns with expansion of NATO and U.S. advanced weaponry programs, influence of America’s strategic allies and partners on its policies, and the priorities of domestic politics in both countries can all considerably delay such rapprochement or prevent it altogether.

 

 

May 4, 2015

The U.S.-Russia Initiative to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism Newsletter: November 2014-April 2015

Newsletter

By Simon Saradzhyan, Director, Russia Matters Project; Assistant Director, U.S.-Russia Initiative to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Belfer Center hosts a conference on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation; Alexei Arbatov urges U.S. and Russia to jointly counter terrorism, and Elbe Group asserts  that the Ukraine crisis should not lead to suspension of U.S.-Russian cooperation against nuclear terrorism: read about these and other developments in the latest issue of the U.S.-Russia Initiative to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism Newsletter. Available in English and Russian.

 
Events Calendar

We host a busy schedule of events throughout the fall, winter and spring. Past guests include: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, former Vice President Al Gore, and former Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev.