Belfer Center Home > Experts > Simon Saradzhyan

« Back to publication

Simon Saradzhyan

Mailing address

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

Simon Saradzhyan

Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Telephone: 617-496-8228
Fax: 617-496-0606



Simon Saradzhyan is assistant director of the U.S.-Russia Initiative to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism and a research fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center. His research interests include international arms control,  counter-terrorism, foreign, defense, and security policies of Russia and other post-Soviet states and their relations with great powers.

Prior to joining the Belfer Center, Saradzhyan worked as a researcher for East West Institute and as a consultant for the United Nations and World Bank.

Simon has also worked as deputy editor of the Moscow Times and as Moscow correspondent for Defense News. He has contributed scores of articles to other publications, ranging from the Times of London to Space News, earning certificate of merit from the commander of the Russian Strategic Missile Forces for his coverage of Russia's military affairs.

As an editor, he led coverage of such dramatic events in Russia, as the Dubrovka and Beslan-hostage taking crises. As a reporter, Simon has covered a number of milestone security events in Russia on the ground, including the October 1993 coup and the 1999 apartment bombings in Moscow.

Saradzhyan is the author of a number of papers on arms control and security, including "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?" and published by the Belfer Center;"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; and "La Guerra Olvidada de Chechenia" (Forgotten War in Chechnya,) published in La Vanguardia Dossier Quarterly.

Saradzhyan has presented his research at  numerous conferences, such as the European Union Institute for Security Studies' annual conference and the EastWest Institute's annual Worldwide Security Conference. In his capacity as an expert, Saradzhyan has appeared on BBC, CBS, NPR, AP and Reuters television as well as on Russian radio and television stations.

Simon co-founded and served as the first president of Harvard Club of Russia in 2004-2006.

Saradzhyan earned a Masters in Public Administration the John F. Kennedy School of Government in 2002.



By Date



AP Photo

February 24, 2015

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

Op-Ed, Washington Post

By Simon Saradzhyan, Fellow, 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, Fellow, 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, Fellow, 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, Fellow, 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.



November 17, 2014

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


By Simon Saradzhyan, Fellow, 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, Fellow, 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?




July 25, 2014

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

Op-Ed, Moscow Times

By Simon Saradzhyan, Fellow, 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.



June 16, 2014

The U.S.-Russia Initiative to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism Newsletter: March-May 2014


By Simon Saradzhyan, Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

IPNT Participants Urge U.S and Russia to Continue Cooperating on Nuclear Security and Counter-Terrorism In Spite of Ukraine Crisis;  Matthew Bunn Highlights Insider Threats; Belfer Center Offers Policy Recommendations for Nuclear Security Summit;  and Elbe Group Calls for Continuation of Joint Actions on Preventing Nuclear Terrorism; and more.



April 16, 2014

How Russia's Red Line in Ukraine Got Real

Op-Ed, Russia Direct

By Simon Saradzhyan, Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

In 2008, Kiev was actively pushing to integrate Ukraine into the West not only economically and politically, but also militarily. And yet Russia didn't intervene. So what's changed between now and then?



April 6, 2014

Comparing Crimean Apples with Georgian Oranges

Op-Ed, Moscow Times

By Simon Saradzhyan, Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Comparing a covert operation conducted by special forces in Crimea against an adversary that chose not to fight with a larger-scale military campaign, which involved mostly regular units and intensive military-to-military fighting, such as the 2008 Russian-Georgian war, is like comparing Crimean apples with Georgian oranges.



Receive email updates on the most pressing topics in science and int'l affairs.

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.