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European Security Initiative


Statue of the Founders of Kiev during the Maidan Revolution
Photo credit: 


Principal Investigator
Senior Fellow
  • Professor, Political Science
  • Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution
Senior Fellow
  • Professor, Humanities and Sciences
John Dunlop
Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution
Paul R. Gregory
Research Fellow, Hoover Institution
David Holloway, CISAC
Senior Fellow
  • Professor, History
  • Professor, Political Science
Senior Fellow
  • Professor, Political Science
  • Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution
Senior Fellow, Emerita
  • Professor, Political Science, Emerita
Senior Fellow, by courtesy
  • Professor, History
  • Professor, by courtesy, German Studies
  • Senior Fellow, the Hoover Institution
Senior Fellow, by courtesy
  • Professor, Political Science
  • Professor, Management
  • Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution
Senior Fellow
  • Professor, Political Science
Senior Fellow
Kori Schake
Research Fellow, Hoover Institution
Klaus Segbers
Professor, Freie Universitaet Berlin
Consulting Professor
Distinguished Fellow, S-APARC, Affiliate, CISAC, Affiliate, CDDRL, Affiliate, TEC


Stanford Initiative on European Security

Click here for Stanford Report's article on ESI

With Russia’s annexation of Crimea and intervention in eastern Ukraine in 2014, Europe is facing the greatest challenge to its stability and security since the Cold War. Russia’s actions have triggered a new era of uncertainty – and possibly sustained competition – between Russia and the United States and its European allies.  Russia’s motives may be somewhat opaque, but the effects of its actions have been unmistakable, particularly in generating anxiety among its Eastern Europe neighbors and condemnation internationally.

Stanford is uniquely well-positioned to take on this topic, both as an important matter for scholarship and for policy engagement. Researchers across campus have deep expertise in Russia and Europe, and extensive first-hand experience as policy makers in Washington, D.C. and in foreign capitals.

Given the gravity of the threat to European stability and Stanford’s strength in this realm, the Europe Center, FSI, the Hoover Institution and other university partners are launching a new initiative on European security. Our first aim is to understand the nature of the conflict. For example, is the new threat a replay of decades-old confrontation between Russia and the West? Or are Russia’s actions primarily driven by powerful domestic forces?  Our second aim is to develop a long-term strategy to deal with the new challenge Russia presents. How should the United States, its allies and the international system contend with a resurgent Russia?

To undertake this initiative, FSI is forming a faculty working group to examine the issues involved and design possible policy responses together.  The group will meet with Stanford and outside experts from the U.S. and around the world. Educating and involving the Stanford community is a critical part of this effort, and Stanford faculty, students, visitors and neighbors will be warmly welcome to participate in a series of public events on Russia, Europe and the United States. Upcoming and recent events are listed below.   

The initiative will evolve over time, and may grow to include opportunities in student learning (e.g. classes, fellowships or research assistantships), sustained dialogue with European partners, or other activities that integrate scholarly and policy-oriented objectives.

If you are interested in learning more about this initiative, please contact Sam Rebo, Project Coordinator, at


March 3, 2016
Vygaudas Usackas, EU Ambassador to Russia
March 10, 2016
Kathryn Stoner, FSI Senior Fellow and Faculty Director of International Policy Studies at Stanford University
April 1, 2016
Ilia Krasilshchik, Publisher of Meduza, the Russian language online media outlet


February 5, 2016
Klaus Segbers, CREEES Visiting Scholar
February 2, 2016
Roger Cohen, New York Times Columnist
January 5, 2016
Sergei Guriev, Professor of Economics, Sciences Po, Paris
"Whither the Russian Economy?"
November 10, 2015
Lilia Shevtsova, Non-Resident Fellow at the Brookings Institution
November 9, 2015
General Philip M. Breedlove, Supreme Allied Commander Europe, NATO
"Europe at the Crossroads"

November 3, 2015
Steven Lee Myers, New York Times Correspondent, Author of "The New Tsar"
"Understanding Russia's New Tsar"

November 2, 2015
Vladimir Milov, former Russian Deputy Minister of Energy
"The Global Impact of Russia's Political and Economic Situation"

October 27, 2015
Lena Jonson, Associate Research Fellow, Swedish Institute of International Affairs (UI)
"Art and Protest in Putin's Russia"

October 14, 2015
Sergey Aleksashenko, former Deputy Chairman of the Russian Central Bank
"Is Russia (Becoming) a Failed State?"

September 25, 2015
Anders Fogh Rasmussen, former Secretary General of NATO

September 24, 2015
Toomas Hendrik Ilves, President of the Republic of Estonia
"Democracy Rebooted: The Future of Technology in Elections"

May 18, 2015
Steven Pifer, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and former US Ambassador to Ukraine
"Ukraine-Russia: What Next?"

May 11, 2015
Ivo Daalder, President of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and former US Ambassador to NATO
"Towards a Post-9/11 Foreign Policy"

May 1, 2015
Gérard Araud, French Ambassador to the United States
"State of the France-US Relationship and Priorities for 2015"

April 13, 2015
Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Former Russian businessman and founder of Open Russia
"Russia: Back to the Future" (CDDRL)

April 7, 2015
Douglas Lute, US Ambassador to NATO
"Wales to Warsaw: NATO and the Current State of Transatlantic Security"



European Security Initiative to Address Policy Challenges Amid A Shifting Geopolitical Landscape

Stanford Report, Oct 28, 2015

By May Wong

First, it was the annexation last year of Crimea. Then it was the intervention in Eastern Ukraine. Now, in recent weeks, there has been an assault of airstrikes and naval cruise missiles in Syria.

What, many are wondering, is Russian President Vladimir Putin up to?

Russia’s spate of aggressive tactics has thrust Europe into a new era of uncertainty and raises pertinent policy questions that Stanford scholars have set out to explore more deeply with the launch this fall of a new European Security Initiative.

The working group of a dozen senior faculty members  – whose breadth of expertise in Russian and Eurasian affairs spans multiple administrations – believes Russia’s actions constitute the greatest challenge to European security and stability since the end of the Cold War. At the same time, Russia’s own unstable economy and uncertain domestic political landscape complicate the matter. Policy changes moving forward will be high-stakes decisions, especially since Russia and the West have apparently stepped into a period of sustained competition.

Stanford – with its heavyweight lineup – is poised to play a role. The European Security Initiative, formed by the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI) and The Europe Center (TEC), will serve as the collaborative framework for the policy research.

“Policymakers in Washington have to react immediately to events in the world, making it difficult to develop longer term strategies for dealing with ongoing challenges,” said FSI’s director, Michael McFaul.  “At Stanford, we have the luxury of being able to think about longer trends and then recommend more enduring strategies to our colleagues in government.”

“We also have deep expertise on Russia and Europe, which assigns us a special responsibility to tackle these new challenges to European security,” he said.

The initial group of faculty involved in the initiative includes, among others: McFaul, former U.S ambassador to Russia; Condoleezza Rice, former U.S. Secretary of State; Chip Blacker, former Special Assistant to President Clinton and Director for Russian, Ukrainian and Eurasian Affairs on the National Security Council; David Holloway, one of the world’s leading authorities on Russia’s nuclear weapons program and defense policies; and Kathryn Stoner, an expert on Russia’s governance and political economy.

One of the first objectives of the initiative is to understand the nature of the conflicts at hand and develop theories on Russia’s domestic and international intentions.

For example, is Putin trying to re-establish Russian dominance over former Soviet states?  Is he trying to distract internal constituencies from an array of domestic problems? ESI faculty members say the U.S. would have to pursue different policy options depending on the answers.

Working group discussions and a series of public events featuring key figures in U.S.-Russian and European policy will facilitate the Stanford-based dialogue and help broaden the academic discussion among students.

In September, for instance, ESI launched the new academic year with a talk at The Europe Center by Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who was at the center of European and global politics as the former Secretary General of NATO.

Other fall quarter ESI events, past and upcoming, include an Oct. 14 talk by Sergey Aleksashenko, a former Deputy Chairman of the Russian Central Bank, a Nov. 2 visit by Vladimir Milov, the former Russian Deputy Minister of Energy, and a Nov. 9 visit by General Philip M. Breedlove, Supreme Allied Commander Europe.

In addition, Stanford students are showing a growing interest in Putin’s actions and the unfolding refugee crisis in Europe.  For example, applications for new student fellowships on European issues in Brussels this past summer far outstripped the six spaces available. To capitalize on this renewed interest, the initiative plans to involve students through events, new fellowships, and a new seminar.

The initiative aims to rebuild scholarship in an area of academic interest that waned after the end of the Cold War. “At the end of the Cold War, many thought that we no longer needed to study Russia. I myself even stopped teaching courses on Russia and Eastern Europe,” McFaul said. “That was a mistake.”  McFaul said that Stanford is ideally positioned to seed a new generation of expertise on Russia and Europe.

FSI provided the start-up money to create the initiative, but it will be looking for funds to sustain the program.