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Bruce McConnell

Global Vice President, EastWest Institute

Pavel Sharikov

Ph.D. in Political Science, Director of the Applied Research Center and Russian Academy of Sciences Institute for U.S. and Canadian Studies, Assistant Professor of the Faculty of World Politics at Lomonosov Moscow State University, RIAC expert

Maria Smekalova

PhD Candidate, Institute for U.S. and Canadian Studies, RAS, RIAC Expert

The current state of Russia–U.S. relations is marked by a high level of distrust. Tensions have been escalating for three years, both countries have imposed economic sanctions, disseminated propaganda, and exchanged accusations. The situation is unpredictable, the escalation may continue and destabilize the whole international system. The deterioration has touched all issues of Russia–U.S. relations, including cybersecurity.

Cooperation on cybersecurity is a relatively new problem, and probably has never been among the most prioritized, along with many other issues, including terrorism, Ukraine, Syria, economic sanctions, and many others.

While Russia and the U.S. feel the need to cooperate on settling pressing issues regarding cybersecurity, they seem to diverge over what should be done and over how international law could be applied.

In this context two parallel tracks should be promoted. The first one is cooperation on cybercrime prevention and counterterrorism measures. In part because they lack common terminology regarding cyberspace, Russia and the US fail to find common ground when talking about cybercrime prevention. What is more, the at times anonymous nature of cybercrime not only impedes the attribution process, but undermines the political stance in bilateral relations. The second track involves elaborating norms of behavior as well as protection of critical infrastructure from cyberattacks. Although work is being conducted by the United Nations Group of Governmental Experts (UNGGE), the most important issue has become how to make the norms actionable. Critical infrastructure, along with cybercrime, needs clear definition.

What is vital now is to continue dialogue and reach mutual understanding with the help of expert meetings and publications, technical cooperation, and balanced media participation and coverage, so that a more united approach may follow.

During the past year, Russian and U.S. experts in cybersecurity have been working together making important observations on existing problems in relations between the two countries in this area.

As a result of bilateral efforts, the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) and the EastWest Institute (EWI) are putting forward a number of challenges and proposals to promote cooperation in cyberspace between Russia and the United States.

The parties are hopeful that the suggested ideas, which appear at the end of this Policy Brief, will lay the groundwork for future cooperation. As a preface to those ideas, the brief provides contrasting perspectives from Russian and U.S. experts.

The current state of Russia–U.S. relations is marked by a high level of distrust. Tensions have been escalating for three years, both countries have imposed economic sanctions, disseminated propaganda, and exchanged accusations. The situation is unpredictable, the escalation may continue and destabilize the whole international system. The deterioration has touched all issues of Russia–U.S. relations, including cybersecurity.

Cooperation on cybersecurity is a relatively new problem, and probably has never been among the most prioritized, along with many other issues, including terrorism, Ukraine, Syria, economic sanctions, and many others.

While Russia and the U.S. feel the need to cooperate on settling pressing issues regarding cybersecurity, they seem to diverge over what should be done and over how international law could be applied.

In this context two parallel tracks should be promoted. The first one is cooperation on cybercrime prevention and counterterrorism measures. In part because they lack common terminology regarding cyberspace, Russia and the US fail to find common ground when talking about cybercrime prevention. What is more, the at times anonymous nature of cybercrime not only impedes the attribution process, but undermines the political stance in bilateral relations. The second track involves elaborating norms of behavior as well as protection of critical infrastructure from cyberattacks. Although work is being conducted by the United Nations Group of Governmental Experts (UNGGE), the most important issue has become how to make the norms actionable. Critical infrastructure, along with cybercrime, needs clear definition.

What is vital now is to continue dialogue and reach mutual understanding with the help of expert meetings and publications, technical cooperation, and balanced media participation and coverage, so that a more united approach may follow.

During the past year, Russian and U.S. experts in cybersecurity have been working together making important observations on existing problems in relations between the two countries in this area.

As a result of bilateral efforts, the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) and the EastWest Institute (EWI) are putting forward a number of challenges and proposals to promote cooperation in cyberspace between Russia and the United States.

The parties are hopeful that the suggested ideas, which appear at the end of this Policy Brief, will lay the groundwork for future cooperation. As a preface to those ideas, the brief provides contrasting perspectives from Russian and U.S. experts.

Suggestions on Russia-U.S. Cooperation in Cybersecurity, 1.02 Mb

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Poll conducted

  1. In your opinion, what are the US long-term goals for Russia?
    U.S. wants to establish partnership relations with Russia on condition that it meets the U.S. requirements  
     33 (31%)
    U.S. wants to deter Russia’s military and political activity  
     30 (28%)
    U.S. wants to dissolve Russia  
     24 (22%)
    U.S. wants to establish alliance relations with Russia under the US conditions to rival China  
     21 (19%)
 
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