U.S. Foreign Policy Challenges in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE)
Growing Russian Influence and Pressures on Atlanticism
On February 27, 2018 CEPA hosted an exclusive, closed-door briefing for Members of the CEE Caucuses, organized in conjunction with the Office of Representative Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio). This briefing featured insights from Réka Szemerkényi, Executive Vice President of CEPA, Janusz Bugajski, Senior Fellow at CEPA, and Donald N. Jensen, Senior Fellow at CEPA.
Moscow reportedly plans to interfere with another U.S. election. Russia has an election coming up too.
Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Feb. 9.PHOTO: KREMLIN POOL/ZUMA PRESS
The Central Intelligence Agency has reported that Moscow is preparing to interfere in November’s midterm elections. On the theory that the best defense is a good offense, why shouldn’t Washington consider launching a cyberoffensive against the Kremlin? A targeted onslaught could disrupt the stability of Vladimir Putin’s regime.
Russia faces a presidential election March 18. The result is already decided— Mr. Putin will win—but the country is vulnerable to cyberpenetration. A key component of a covert assault would be to hack and disseminate official Russian communications, with a focus on the Kremlin, government ministries, Parliament, key businesses and subservient political parties, as well as private correspondence between officials.
Although the regime controls the major media outlets, potentially incendiary leaks can be circulated through social media, a favorite instrument of Kremlin disinformation in the West. The objective would be to disclose publicly the most provocative scandals of Russia’s top officials and the extent of their corrupt governance, opulent lifestyles, public lies, and contempt for ordinary citizens.
Especially valuable would be messages that reveal the willingness of officials, oligarchs and bureaucrats to betray the country for personal gain. Western intelligence services certainly possess more comprehensive information about the theft of the Russian budget than does even Alexei Navalny, the anticorruption campaigner barred from standing in the election.
A U.S. offensive could be extended beyond the election as part of a broader psychological influence operation. Such a strategy would have two core objectives: alienating the public from the regime and provoking power struggles inside the ruling stratum. Detailed revelations about official treason and financial abuse can fuel social, ethnic, regional and religious unrest—especially as living standards for the masses continue to plunge. Regime change would then become the responsibility of the exploited and manipulated Russian citizens.
Simultaneously, disclosures about conflicts within the ruling elite would generate uncertainty and anxiety in government circles and expose the regime’s political vulnerabilities. Even if that doesn’t immediately precipitate Mr. Putin’s downfall, it could help divert the Kremlin from its unchallenged cyberwar against Western democracies.
Some will caution that such an offensive against Moscow would be provocative and would escalate disputes between the U.S. and Russia. The Kremlin, however, perceives the lack of an effective U.S. response to its election meddling as weakness and vulnerability. The assault on American democracy continues to this day primarily because of an inadequate counterattack and the limited impact of financial sanctions against Russian officials.
Besides, Moscow will accuse America of interfering in its elections anyway. Washington might as well accomplish something.
Mr. Bugajski is a senior fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis in Washington and co-author, with Margarita Assenova, of “Eurasian Disunion: Russia’s Vulnerable Flanks” (Jamestown Foundation, 2016).
9:00 – 9:40 a.m. Welcoming Remarks and Scene Setter
Welcome: Frederick Kempe, President and CEO, Atlantic Council (confirmed)
Damir Marusic, Executive Editor, The American Interest (confirmed)
Damon Wilson, Executive Vice President, Programs and Strategy, Atlantic Council (confirmed)
9:40 – 10:00 a.m. Keynote Remarks – US Policy in the Balkans: Progress and Challenges
10:00 – 11:15 a.m. Panel 1 – Shifting Alliances and the Return of Great Power Politics: Managing the New Geostrategic Landscape in Southeast Europe
In recent years, Russia, Turkey, and the Middle East have been perceived to expand their influence in the Balkans. What impact will this have on the region’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations in NATO and the EU? What should the United States and European Union do, if anything, to shape this new strategic landscape?
Dimitar Bechev, Research Fellow, Center for Slavic, Eurasian, and East European Studies, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill (confirmed)
Molly Montgomery, Special Advisor for Europe and Russia, Office of the Vice President (invited)
Moderator: Barbara Surk, Contributing Writer, New York Times (confirmed)
11:15 – 11:30 a.m. Coffee Break
11:30 – 12:45 p.m. Panel 2 – Investing in the Future: Can Entrepreneurs “Fix” the Balkans?
The Western Balkan region has some of the highest unemployment rates and lowest wages in Europe, a situation with well-documented economic and political ramifications. What are the greatest barriers to investment and economic growth, and what can countries do to overcome them? How can the region effectively foster the next generation of entrepreneurs to drive positive economic change moving forward? What role does US and European investment play in the region?
Mark Boris Andrijanic, Public Policy, Central and Eastern Europe, Uber (confirmed)
H.E. Ivica Dačić, First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia (confirmed)
Cyril Muller, Vice President, Europe and Central Asia, The World Bank (confirmed)
H.E. Behgjet Pacolli, First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kosovo (confirmed)
Marija Zivanovic-Smith, Corporate VP, Marketing, Communications, and Government Relations, NCR Corporation (invited)
Moderator: Amb. Robert S. Gelbard, Chairman, Gelbard International Consulting (confirmed)
The Hon. Ron Johnson, US Senator (invited)
12:45 – 2:00 p.m. Lunch Break
Lunch will be available to all participants
2:00 – 3:15 p.m. Panel 3 – Great Risk, Great Reward: Tackling the Balkans’ Enduring Political Challenges
Despite significant regional progress, a series of political disputes continue to overshadow positive developments. The ongoing dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina over their bilateral relations, the name dispute between Greece and Macedonia, and the internal political turmoil in Bosnia and Herzegovina are all major impediments to the region’s stability. What kind of effort is needed to break through these barriers? How much should the international community be involved?
H.E. Nikola Dimitrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Macedonia (confirmed)
H.E. Enver Hoxhaj, Deputy Prime Minister of Kosovo (confirmed)
Astrit Istrefi, Executive Director, The Balkan Forum (confirmed)
The Hon. Hoyt Yee, Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, US Department of State (confirmed)
Moderator: Janusz Bugajski, Senior Fellow, Center for European Policy Analysis (confirmed)
3:15 – 3:30 p.m. Coffee Break
3:30 – 4:45 p.m. Panel 4 – Going the Distance: The US-EU Partnership in the Balkans and Prospects for Euro-Atlantic Integration
The United States and the European Union have long worked hand-in-hand to drive political and economic reform and encourage stability in the Balkans. As the United States reassesses its foreign policy priorities, and the European Union is forced to address its own internal dynamic, to what extent can/should the US and EU be involved in the region to avoid backsliding and re-incentivize forward progress? What specific steps do EU aspirant countries from the Balkans need to take in the next five years in order to maintain momentum in the accession process?
The Hon. Jeanne Shaheen, US Senator (confirmed)
H.E. Ditmir Bushati, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Albania (confirmed)
Rosemary di Carlo, President, National Committee on American Foreign Policy (confirmed)
H.E. Srdjan Darmanović, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Montenegro (confirmed)
Hedvig Morvai, Executive Director, European Fund for the Balkans (confirmed)
4:45 – 6:00 p.m. Panel 5 – NATO in the Balkans: Securing the Frontiers of Europe in Turbulent Times
Over the past decade, NATO’s engagement with the Western Balkan region has increasingly moved from peacekeeping to support for reforms associated with the region’s Euro-Atlantic integration. What is next for NATO in the Balkans? How should NATO’s regional policy evolve over the next 5-10 years, and what specific strategies should the Alliance prioritize to ensure a stable and prosperous region over the long term? How can NATO best play a constructive role in developing Balkan countries’ own capabilities to effectively address the security challenges they face?
The Hon. Thomas Goffus, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Europe and NATO, US Department of Defense (invited)
Jasmin Mujanović, Fellow, EastWest Institute (confirmed)
Milica Pejanović-Djurišić, former Minister of Defense; Member of the Governance Board, Atlantic Council of Montenegro (confirmed)
Rear Admiral Murray Joe Tynch, III, Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations, Headquarters, Joint Force Command Naples (invited)
Alexander Vershbow, Distinguished Fellow, Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, Atlantic Council (confirmed)
The 9th annual CEPA Forum will take place in Washington D.C., on Thursday and Friday, September 21-22, 2017. The CEPA Forum is the leading annual transatlantic conference in Washington D.C., representing the largest gathering of Central European officials, experts and leaders in the United States. This year’s Forum will focus on Preserving Atlanticism in a Time of Change.
Panels will cover a range of pressing policy issues from “Reforming NATO for the 21st Century” to “Strengthening U.S.-Central European Relations.”
Preserving Atlanticism in a Time of Change
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 21, 2017
1401 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, D.C. 20004
Arrival and Breakfast
Atlanticism is under strain as priorities shift, old ties fray, and memories fade. Yet a strong security relationship between Europe and the United States remains vital—for both sides. This year’s CEPA Forum looks at the looming threats to the Atlantic Alliance, and at the efforts all parties must make to adapt and renew it.
American priorities in Central Europe remain focused on security. Yet the cohesion of the Visegrád group has come under increasing scrutiny, with different emphases and approaches in Bratislava, Budapest, Prague, and Warsaw. Expertise within the region remains formidable and the geostrategic location is crucial. But for what? How far do the strains within Visegrád, and its rumbling disagreements with the European Commission over migration policy and other issues, affect relations with Brussels and Washington? What can the V4 countries do to restore their role in the transatlantic security architecture? How does the V4 relate to more pressing security worries in the Baltic Sea region, the Black Sea, and Ukraine? How should the V4 approach American priorities within NATO?
MODERATOR: Sławomir Dębski, Director, Polish Institute of International Affairs
Petr Gajdušek, State Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Czech Republic
Ivan Korčok, State Secretary, Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, Slovakia
Even though NATO is the most successful military alliance in human history, it cannot afford to rest on its laurels. From “out of area or out of business” to the restoration of contingency planning and territorial defense, NATO now faces new challenges as it responds to the Trump administration’s focus on countering terrorism, and develops new capabilities in cyber and information warfare. The administration’s insistent demand for higher defense spending requires most NATO members to rebuild the political consensus which sustained alliance efforts during the Cold War. How should NATO decision-makers react?
The Future of Transatlantic Relations: The Impact of U.S.-Russia Relations on Euro-Atlantic Security
America has a superpower’s priorities; the frontline states have theirs. The task for Atlanticists is to minimize and manage the tension between these two sets of goals. Worries about a sudden grand bargain between the United States and Russia have abated in 2017, but what might the next phase in this relationship bring? Washington has urged Moscow to cease its destabilizing activities in Ukraine, to join a common effort against terrorism, and to stand in the defense of Western civilization. How should transatlantic leaders interpret the administration’s opening moves; and where do the biggest risks and opportunities exist for synchronizing interests with allies on core issues like energy and security?
Kurt Volker, Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations, United States
3:00 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.
3:15 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
BREAKOUT SESSION 1
The War of Narratives in the Information Age
Doom-mongers proclaim a “post-truth” era. But the battle with disinformation is long-running, and is far from lost. Western countries are belatedly waking up to the threat from Russia and other adversaries, though granular information about the reach and impact of hostile, trust-corroding narratives is still scant. How do information attacks fit into the broader picture of hybrid warfare? What emphasis should we place on countering specific disinformation, and how much on improving our overall resilience? What are the roles of the private and public actors in the information space? And how, if at all, should we counter-attack?
Daniel Kimmage, Acting Coordinator, Global Engagement Center, Department of State, United States
Jukka Savolainen, Director, Community of Interest “Vulnerabilities and resilience,” European Center of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats
Jānis Sārts, Director, NATO Strategic Communications Center of Excellence Brian Whitmore, Senior Russia Analyst, Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty
3:15 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
BREAKOUT SESSION 2
Migration and Security: U.S. and European Perspectives
Controlling borders is a central element of sovereignty, and sharing public goods is a fairly crucial legitimizing factor for democratic decision-making. Yet the flow of people across national frontiers results from complex economic, historic, humanitarian, and legal factors too. How can the United States—a country built by immigrants, but simultaneously wanting to prioritize security—best discuss migration with Central European allies?
The US, Russia, and the Security of Europe’s Flanks
Thursday, March 23, 2017
9:00 A.M.–4:00 P.M.
Root Conference Room
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
1779 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20036-2109
About the Event:
Over the past decade, a resurgent Russia has increasingly drawn the focus of Western governments. With Russia dominating debate in the recent US presidential election, discussion of the security risks presented by Russia appears to be reaching a crescendo. As the new US Administration works to craft an effective response to the Russian threat, this conference seeks to shed light on the strategic intersection of US-Russia relations and the security of NATO’s flanks. Building from the understanding that an effective response requires more than a reset in US-Russia relations, “The US, Russia, and the Security of Europe’s Flanks” will examine Russian defense modernization and the implications it has for NATO deterrence and regional security from the Baltic States to the Black Sea.
For more information about the conference and full author bios visit our event webpage here.
8:45 A.M.–9:00 A.M.
* * *
Glen E. Howard
President, The Jamestown Foundation
Chair: Valeriy Chaly [Ambassador of Ukraine to the United States]
Speaker: Pavlo Klimkin [Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine]
9:55 am – 11:10 am – Dialogue Panel Discussion I
Divining Ways to Strengthen Ukraine Militarily
Moderator: John Herbst [EAC Director/Atlantic Council of the United States]
Panelists: Ihor Smeshko [Col. General/Advisor to the President of Ukraine]
Phillip Karber [President/Potomac Foundation]
James Sherr [Senior Fellow/Royal Institute of International Affairs]
11:10 am – 11:15 am – Coffee Break
11:15 am – 12:30 pm – Dialogue Panel Discussion II
Assessing Ways to Secure Ukraine on the Diplomatic/Political Front
Moderator: William Taylor [Executive Vice President/US Institute of Peace]
Panelists: Andrii Levus [Chair/Sub Committee on State Security/Rada NS&D Comm.]
Vlad Socor [Senior Fellow/Jamestown Foundation]
Luke Coffey [Director/Allison Center for Foreign Policy/Heritage Foundation]
12:50 pm – 1:35 pm – Working Lunch Featured Presesentation
UA Security & the Incoming Administration
Chair: Glen Howard [President/Jamestown Foundation]
Speakers: John Falk [Principal/Vigilent Inc.]
Herman Pirchner [President/American Foreign Policy Council]
1:35 pm – 2:50 pm – Dialogue Panel Discussion III
Examining Ways to Bolster Ukraine in Economic/Energy Matters
Moderator: Roman Popadiuk [Chair/World Affairs Councils of America]
Panelists: Anatolii Matios [Chief Military Prosecutor & Deputy Prosecutor General of Ukraine]
Anders Aslund [Senior Fellow/Atlantic Council of the United States]
Ariel Cohen [Senior Fellow/Institute for the Analysis of Global Security]
2:50 pm – 2:55 pm – Coffee Break
2:55 pm – 4:20 pm – Dialogue Panel Discussion IV
Contemplating the Means by Which Ukraine Can Withstand
‘Info War/History War’ Assaults
Moderator: William Courtney [BLF Executive Director/RAND Corporation]
Panelists: Oleksiy Skrypnyk [Dep. Chair/Rada Committee on Science & Education]
Stephen Blank [Senior Fellow/American Foreign Policy Council]
Janusz Bugajski [Senior Fellow/Center for European Policy Analysis]
Special Appearance: Brendon Boyle [US Representative D-PA]