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Simon Saradzhyan

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

 

 

By Date

 

2015 (continued)

April 29, 2015

"ISIS on the Move: Russia's Deadly Islamist Problem"

Op-Ed, The National Interest

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

Killings of leaders of the ongoing insurgency in Russia’s North Caucasus no longer make front page news in either Moscow or foreign capitals, and the recent violent death of Emirate Caucasus’ emir Aliskhab Kebekov is no exception. But regardless of whether such deadly news is buried in the inside pages or not, the North Caucasus insurgency, whose representatives not only regularly target “mainland Russia,” but also travel to fight in countries of the Greater Middle East and raise funds in Europe, won’t go away.

 

 

(AP Photo/Mstyslav Chernov)

March 18, 2015

Knowing when it's war and how to avoid it

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 Vladimir Putin say it, Russia is not at war with Ukraine. “I think that this apocalyptic scenario is highly unlikely, and I hope it never comes to that,” Putin said when asked on Russia’s Defender of the Fatherland Day whether his fellow citizens may “wake up one day to learn we are at war” with Ukraine. It can be inferred that the commander-in-chief of the Russian armed force believes (or wants us to believe) that there will be no war between Russia and Ukraine for as long as Moscow refuses to admit to its involvement in the conflict. But is there such a thing as a declared war any more? And how should other European nations respond if they become the target of an undeclared war? What can be done to prevent repetition of the Ukraine scenario elsewhere in Europe?

 

 

February 2015

Weapons Won't End the Conflict

Op-Ed, Perspectives on Peace and Security

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

The last several days have seen the once dormant debate—whether or not the U.S. should start supplying weapons to Ukraine—reignite.  The debate was revived by the release of a joint report by a group of ex-U.S. officials affiliated with three prominent American think tanks, which recommended that Washington urgently supply anti-tank missiles, counter-battery radars, and other military hardware to the Ukrainian armed forces so that the latter can deter Russia from escalating the conflict in Donbass.

 

 

AP Photo

February 24, 2015

The West should not count on Russian sensitivity to casualties to deter Putin

Op-Ed, The Washington Post

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

One argument in favor of the West arming Ukraine is that additional weapons will deter Russia due to Vladimir Putin’s sensitivity to Russian casualties. There is no official data on Russian casualties in Ukraine, though one Russian NGO claims to have identified 260 Russian soldiers and volunteers who have been killed in action in eastern Ukraine.Reported attempts to conceal the cause and location of some of these deaths indicate that Russia’s leaders are sensitive to killings of active-duty Russian soldiers in the neighboring country.

 

 

Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

"ISIS' Worst Nightmare: The U.S. and Russia Teaming Up on Terrorism"

Op-Ed, The National Interest

By Thomas Graham, Former Research Fellow, International Security Program, 1988-1990 and Simon Saradzhyan, Director, Russia Matters Project; Assistant Director, U.S.-Russia Initiative to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Can the United States, European Union and Russia cooperate against the burgeoning common threat posed by the so-called Islamic State, even as their diplomats cross swords over the most recent escalation of fighting in Ukraine? The short answer is yes, but the path to cooperation will not be easy. The hard truth is that even when relations were good, counterterrorism cooperation was never as robust as many had hoped after 9/11. This was because of a fundamental conceptual gap about the nature of the terrorist threat.

For the United States, the threat comes in the guise of foreign radicals, determined to undermine the institutions of American society. That is the lesson Washington drew from 9/11 as it formulated its response. Al Qaeda in fact might have had a more limited goal of driving the United States from the Middle East, but Washington depicted the threat as one against the West's fundamental democratic values. For Russia, the terrorist threat is inextricably linked to separatism. That was the lesson Moscow drew from Chechnya as it formulated its counterterrorist policies. There were quite a few radical Islamists among the Chechen fighters even in the 1990s, but Moscow primarily saw them as a group determined to carve off territory for an independent secular state, not necessarily to destroy Russian society as such.

 

 

Wikimedia Commons

February, 2015

"Arming Ukraine a Risky Escalation"

Op-Ed, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

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

The last several days have seen the once dormant debate—whether or not the U.S. should start supplying weapons to Ukraine—reignite. The debate was revived by the release of a joint report by a group of ex-U.S. officials affiliated with three prominent American think tanks, which recommended that Washington urgently supply anti-tank missiles, counter-battery radars, and other military hardware to the Ukrainian armed forces so that the latter can deter Russia from escalating the conflict in Donbass.

 

 

(AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)

January 12, 2013

"NATO-Russian Relations Can Still Be Saved"

Op-Ed, Moscow 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

It is indisputable that the Ukraine crisis has dealt a serious blow to Russia's relations with core members of NATO. It would take many years for Moscow, Washington and Brussels to fully mend the fences even if the conflict in Ukraine were resolved tomorrow.

But as Russia's new military doctrine indicates, the Rubicon in NATO-Russian relations has not been crossed — at least not yet. While naming Russia's allies, the doctrine, which was published on Dec. 26, avoids designating either NATO as a whole or any of its specific members as adversaries.

 

2014

November 17, 2014

The U.S.-Russia Initiative to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism Newsletter: June-October 2014

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 U.S.-Russian relations;   Pavel Zolotarev comments on U.S.-Russian counter-terrorism cooperation; William Tobey assesses Barack Obama’s policy in combating nuclear terrorism, and more.

 

 

AP Images

August 12, 2014

"Cornering Putin Could Backfire"

Op-Ed, The Boston Globe

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

The Ukrainian army has made significant gains against pro-Russian separatists in recent weeks, forcing the rebels to retreat to pockets around Donetsk and Luhansk. Victory seems to be within the Ukrainian soldiers’ grasp, but can it be attained and will it last?

 

 

AP

July 25, 2014

Why Hopes of Putin's Unconditional Surrender Could Prove to Be Futile

Op-Ed, Moscow 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

With almost a week past the tragic crashing of a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet over eastern Ukraine, it is becoming clear that whatever initial hopes Western leaders might have had — that Russia’s Vladimir Putin can be shamed or coerced into unconditionally throwing the pro-Russian rebels under the bus — are futile. There is hope, however, that both the conflicting sides and their supporters will sit down to negotiate a sustainable resolution to the conflict which threatens the foundations of Europe’s already fragile system of collective security.

 
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.