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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

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

 

Experience

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, counterterrorism, 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, Saradzhyan worked as a journalist and as a researcher 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 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

 

2015

July 14, 2015

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

Newsletter

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

 

 

April 29, 2015

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

Op-Ed, The National Interest

By Simon Saradzhyan, Fellow, 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, Fellow, 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, 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

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.

 

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