In the News | 2022

Firefighters extinguish a fire following a Russian bombardment at a park in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, May 3, 2022. (Felipe Dana/AP)

In the News

June 21, 2022

As war drags on in Ukraine, is it time to talk compromise?

WBUR On Point

"What is the US interest commensurate with the possibility of nuclear escalation?" Steven Simon, a Robert E Wilhelm Fellow at CIS, asks. "There really isn't one." As war drags on, is it time to talk compromise? Tune in to this edition of On Point featuring Simon, Anne Applebaum (The Atlantic), and Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze (Ukrainian Parliament from the opposition European Solidarity Party).

Jim Braude, Carol Saivetz, Gautam Mukunda on the set of Greater Boston

In the News

June 13, 2022

Could Trump’s hostility toward NATO allies be a winning strategy at home?

Jim BraudeWGBH Greater Boston

Even as it seems Trump's claims are untrue, could they be a winning strategy here at home? And what lies ahead for his London trip and meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin? Jim Braude was joined by Carol Saivetz, senior adviser at MIT's Security Studies Program and Gautam Mukunda, a Harvard Kennedy School fellow, member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and author of “Indispensable: When Leaders Really Matter.”

Officials meeting in Singapore

In the News

June 11, 2022

Shangri-La Dialogue opens in Singapore

Anand NaidooThe Heat

Described as Asia’s premier security summit, military officials and diplomats from more than 40 countries met in Singapore for the Shangri-La Dialogue. On Friday, a highly anticipated meeting took place between the Defense Ministers of China and the United States. Jim Walsh weighs in.

US and Iran flags with defeated person walking between them

In the News

June 9, 2022

America’s Iran follies

Michael HirshForeign Policy

After more than two decades of failed policies—fluctuating wildly between confrontation and cooperation—Washington and the West still find themselves facing down a hostile Iran. And today, though it is in dire shape economically, Tehran may be close to delivering the final rebuff, with experts saying it is just weeks away from achieving nuclear bomb capability.

Evan Lieberman

In the News

June 7, 2022

Evan Lieberman on South Africa. Democracy in hard places

Justin KempfDemocracy Paradox

When you hear people talk in such disparaging tones, that everything is broken, that nothing is possible, you need to ask yourself, is that right? When you look around, the answer is no, explains Evan Lieberman.

Mark Jarzombek (right) poses with MIT students in Jerusalem at a MISTI Workshop in June 2019.

In the News

June 6, 2022

Mobilizing across borders to address global challenges


For the most creative minds to work together to solve the world’s greatest challenges, it is essential for global collaboration to be unencumbered by distance. The MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives (MISTI) Global Seed Funds (GSF) program enables participating faculty teams to collaborate across borders with international partners to develop and launch joint research projects.

Pictured are people walking to Karbala during the annual pilgrimage in 2015.

In the News

June 3, 2022

When politics is local in the Middle East

Peter DizikesMIT News

A recent study led by Fotini Christia suggests sectarian identity in the region is tied to domestic matters, not a larger, transnational religious split.

A confident Vladimir Putin

In the News

June 3, 2022

Sanctioned behavior

War on the Rocks

CIS research affiliate Erik Sand is featured on War on the Rocks' podcast Horns of Dilemma to discuss the impact of economic sanctions on Russia and whether they will lead to an end of the war in Ukraine. Listen to the podcast here

Ukrainian servicemen taking part in the armed conflict with Russia-backed separatists in Donetsk region of the country attend the handover ceremony of military heavy weapons and equipment in Kiev on November 15, 2018. Sergei Supinsky | AFP | Getty Images

In the News

June 2, 2022

Biden's move to send advanced weapons to Ukraine raises questions about US involvement in the war

Peter O'DowdWBUR

President Biden's announcement that the US would send advanced rocket launchers to Ukraine was welcome news for soldiers fighting off the Russian invasion. But it raises new questions about American involvement in a brutal war with no diplomatic end in sight. Jim Walsh provides his analysis.

Silhouette of soldier in Ukraine

In the News

June 1, 2022

Will the transfer of advanced weapons to Ukraine lead to a widening war?

PBS NewsHour

The US and Germany on Tuesday moved to send advanced weapons to Ukraine to blunt a Russian offensive in the east. Steven Simon, who worked on the National Security Council staff during the Clinton and Obama administrations and a Wilhelm Fellow at CIS joined Nick Schifrin to discuss the transfer of arms and the importance of diplomacy.

A U.S. soldier firing a Javelin.

In the News

May 27, 2022

Javelin missiles are in short supply and restocking them won't be easy

NPR Morning Edition

Ukrainian fighters have destroyed Russian fighting vehicles with US supplied Javelins. But replacing the thousands of missiles could take years, largely because of a crimp in the supply chain, argues CIS research affiliate Eugene Gholz.

SSP Director M. Taylor Fravel (center, with red tie) poses with SSP staff and participants in the 2022 Executive Branch and Congressional Staff Seminar.

In the News

May 26, 2022

Congressional seminar introduces MIT faculty to 30 Washington staffers


More than 30 congressional and executive branch staffers were hosted by MIT’s Security Studies Program (SSP) for a series of panels and a keynote address focused on contemporary national security issues. 

President Joe Biden speaks during a news conference on Monday, May 23, 2022, in Tokyo. | Evan Vucci/AP Photo

In the News

May 23, 2022

Biden’s Taiwan defense pledge inflames US-China relations

Phelim KinePolitico

Quoted: “A question that must be on everyone’s mind in Beijing is whether the US has already changed its [Taiwan] policy. After all, no one speaks with more authority on questions of foreign policy than the president,” said M Taylor Fravel, director of the Security Studies Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “[Biden’s] repeated gaffes may be given more weight in Beijing than subsequent clarifications of denials of [policy] change.”

Evan Lieberman and his new book on South Africa's democracy

In the News

May 19, 2022

From South Africa, a success story for democracy

Peter DizikesMIT News

In a new book, MIT political scientist Evan Lieberman examines a quarter-century of post-Apartheid government and finds meaningful progress.

News images of Kim Jong-Un wearing covid mask

In the News

May 19, 2022

North Korea prepares nuclear test as COVID-19 rips through country

North Korea is in the throes of what it calls its first-ever outbreak of COVID-19—even if officially it's avoiding that term. State media said Wednesday that more than 1.7 million people had experienced fevers and 62 people had died since late April, but those numbers are impossible to confirm. And amid the outbreak, North Korea is also gearing up for a possible nuclear test.

Eleanor Freund

In the News

May 17, 2022

Eleanor Freund receives Jeanne Guillemin Prize

Michelle EnglishMIT News Office

Eleanor Freund, a PhD candidate in the MIT Department of Political Science, is the recipient of this year’s Jeanne Guillemin Prize at the MIT Center for International Studies (CIS). The annual prize supports women pursuing doctorate degrees in international relations—a field that has long been dominated by men.

From left to right: Hussein Banai, Malcolm Byrne, and John Tirman.

In the News

May 16, 2022

When dueling narratives deepen a divide

Peter DizikesMIT News Office

The book, “Republics of Myth: National Narratives and the US-Iran Conflict,” just published by Johns Hopkins University Press, explores the joint history of identities at odds with each other. The authors identify key moments when US-Iran tensions became further heightened and opportunities for détente dwindled.

John Tirman on Iran Podcast

In the News

May 7, 2022

US-Iran tensions and misperceptions

Negar MortazaviIran Podcast

John Tirman joins Iran Podcast host Negar Mortazavi for a conversation about US-Iran tensions and misperception.

Russian service members drive a tank along a street during a rehearsal for the Victory Day military parade in Moscow, May 4, 2022 [Evgenia Novozhenina/Reuters]

In the News

May 6, 2022

Russia: What is Victory Day, and why is it important this May 9?

Niko VorobyovAl Jazeera

Quoted:  “It’s hard to do a general conscription: I think that that’s when Russians would come out and protest,” said Elizabeth Wood, professor of history at MIT.  “You can conscript all those people in Buryatia (a mountainous region in Siberia), but if you conscript Muscovites, they’ll protest. I don’t think he can declare victory, either. I think they’re planning a long slogging war.”

An Iranian woman walking past a wall that says Down with USA

In the News

May 2, 2022

Why the US and Iran hate each other

Daniel LarisonResponsible Statecraft

Devising a better and more constructive Iran policy is important to making much-needed changes to the US role in the Middle East and to preventing another unnecessary war in the future, but there is little appetite in Washington to make the effort or to take the political risks that it would require. A first step in crafting a smarter Iran policy is to understand why US-Iranian relations have been so strained for such a long time and what obstacles stand in the way of changing that. 

Troops in Ukraine

In the News

April 25, 2022

Is Russia failing in its fight In Ukraine?

Sue O'ConnellNECN

Carol Saivetz, a senior advisor in the MIT Security Studies Program, provides an update on the state of the war as the US promises more aid for war-torn Ukraine.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto (unseen) review an honor guard at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Monday, Jan. 14, 2019. With Russia’s military failings in Ukraine mounting, no country is paying closer attention than China to how a smaller, outgunned force has badly bloodied what was thought to be one of the world’s strongest armies. (AP Photo/Andy Wong, File)

In the News

April 20, 2022

China looks to learn from Russian failures in Ukraine

David RisingAssociated Press (AP)

Quoted: “The big question Xi and the PLA leadership must be asking in light of Russian operations in Ukraine is whether a military that has undergone extensive reform and modernization will be able to execute operations that are far more complex than those Russia has undertaken during its invasion of Ukraine,” said M Taylor Fravel, director of the security studies program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“Starr Forum: The Wider Implications of the War in Ukraine” was held Monday, April 4. Top row, left to right: Jacqueline Bhabha, Joel Brenner, and M. Taylor Fravel. Bottom row: Roger Petersen and Jim Walsh.

In the News

April 5, 2022

What Russia’s invasion of Ukraine means for the world

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has global implications. A panel of MIT foreign policy experts convened on Monday to examine those reverberations—on European domestic politics, the refugee crisis, great-power relations, and nuclear security.

In the first test of its kind, the Pentagon on March 25, 2019, carried out the “salvo” intercept of an unarmed missile soaring over the Pacific, using two interceptor missiles launched from underground silos in California. (AP)

In the News

April 5, 2022

US, UK and Australia announce expanded cooperation on hypersonics

Ellen Nakashima and Cate Cadell The Washington Post

Quoted: “It demonstrates in no uncertain terms that AUKUS is as much about advanced capabilities, as it is about submarines,” said M Taylor Fravel, director of the Security Studies Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “In fact, cooperation in these advanced capabilities are going to be more important in the short to medium term.”

soldier with gun in a shattered doorway with debris and glass everywhere, Aris Messinis/AFP via Getty Images

In the News

April 4, 2022

Street-fighting insurgency gives Ukrainians a slight edge

James A WarrenDaily Beast

Quoted: Barry Posen, a renowned strategic studies scholar at MIT, gives this granular picture of the grim tactical realities of fighting in cities today: “Buildings provide high levels of protection and concealment for infantry soldiers. Multi-storied buildings, with basements, permit defenders to maneuver in a third dimension. Modern cities also have elaborate sewer systems, and often underground tunnels for transit systems. Thus, defenders may maneuver laterally, entirely out of sight of the attacker...”

The new showdown between Russia and the West won't be an old-fashioned battle of spy vs. spy. But it will upend the current balance of power — and amp up the threat of nuclear war. Getty; Savanna Durr/Insider

In the News

April 3, 2022

Cold War 2.0 has already begun — and it's going to be even scarier than the first one

Mattathias SchwartzBusiness Insider

Quoted: Richard Samuels says the nuclear logic in a multipolar world means that more countries may feel they need nukes of their own. Abe Shinzo, the former prime minister of Japan, recently suggested that Tokyo consider nuclear sharing with the US, modeled on NATO arrangements. "Cold War 2.0 is likely to become a more-proliferated world," Samuels told me. "Some countries, referred to as 'latent nuclear powers,' are close to getting their own nuclear capability. But the view that having nuclear weapons makes for a stable world assumes rationality. Right now, we're watching a person some call crazy threaten the use of nuclear weapons. No wonder insecurity is soaring."

A Ukrainian solider unloads a delivery of Javelin missiles from the United States, at the Boryspil Airport in Kyiv on February 11, 2022 Sergei SUPINSKY AFP/File

In the News

April 3, 2022

US defense contractors see longer term benefits from war in Ukraine


Quoted: Eric Heginbotham, a researcher at the MIT Center for International Studies, said that for Western governments -- as has been the case for years in Asia -- “there will be much less appetite for decreases” in military spending...“Countries are going to be looking to increase interoperability with the United States, which is really sort of the central pillar in NATO,” said Heginbotham.

President Biden addressing the EU and NATO re Ukraine War

In the News

March 25, 2022

After Biden's warning, how might Russian cyberattacks play out in the US?

Hiawatha BrayBoston Globe

Joel Brenner, senior research fellow at CIS and former head of counterintelligence for the US director of national intelligence, said that US cyber spies have penetrated Russian hacker networks, and often have a fair idea of what they're up to.

North Korea launched a new missile on Wednesday (Image: GETTY)

In the News

March 25, 2022

Biden's plan to 'secure N Korea nukes' as Kim's new missile puts US mainland 'in reach’

Callum HoareExpress

Quoted: Vipin Narang, a North Korea nuclear specialist at MIT, sent a warning about the possibility of provoking World War 3 if the plan is rolled out. He said: “The million-dollar question is: When do you invoke the OPLAN and what indicators do you rely on to do so?  Because one country's`securing the country´operation can look to the other nation like an invasion plan.  And then, all hell can break loose.”

Left to right: James Lin, Yuka Machino, and Holden Mui wear customized kente stole during their time in Ghana for IAP 2022.

In the News

March 25, 2022

Traveling the world to make a global impact

Anna-Rose StemberMISTI

For decades, MIT students have traveled abroad over Independent Activities Period (IAP) or in the summer for enriching global experiences through MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives (MISTI). This year, dozens of students became MISTI’s first IAP travelers abroad since the start of the pandemic. 

News coverage in Seoul on Thursday, after North Korea carried out its latest missile launch. Credit...Ahn Young-Joon/Associated Press

In the News

March 24, 2022

With US focus on Ukraine, North Korea launches a powerful new ICBM

Choe Sang-HunThe New York Times

Quoted: North Korea is the first United States adversary since the Cold War to test both an ICBM and a claimed hydrogen bomb, according to Vipin Narang, an expert on nuclear proliferation at MIT.

Chinese troops march in Moscow's 2020 Victory Day parade marking the 75th anniversary of the Nazi defeat in World War II. (Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP)

In the News

March 21, 2022

China and Russia’s military relationship likely to deepen with Ukraine war

Christian ShepherdThe Washington Post

Quoted: These constraints suggest that “supplies are mostly likely in the short term — if Beijing makes the strategic decision to move even closer to Moscow,” said M Taylor Fravel, director of the Security Studies Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Territorial Defence Forces train in Odessa, Ukraine, March 202

In the News

March 18, 2022

The false promise of arming insurgents

Lindsey O'RourkeForeign Affairs

Quoted: As the political scientist Barry Posen has pointed out, “The flat and open terrain in Ukraine is largely unfavorable to guerrilla warfare. This is particularly true in southeastern Ukraine, where Russian aggression seems most likely, given the lack of mountains, forests, or swamps for insurgents to use as base camps.”

The Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning, purchased from Ukraine, participates in a 2019 naval parade near Qingdao. (Mark Schiefelbein/Pool/AP)

In the News

March 9, 2022

Ukraine helped build China’s modern military, but when war came, Beijing chose Russia

Eva Dou and Pei Lin Wu The Washington Post

Quoted: “Russia is far and away the most important arms supplier to China,” said M Taylor Fravel, the director of the security studies program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “Where Ukraine has really helped China has been in the area of jet engines, as well as some ship engines and air-to-air missiles.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin in Moscow on February 21, 2022. Speculation mounts over what his end game is in Ukraine and whether the conflict could spark a move against his rule.

In the News

March 6, 2022

Nuclear fears intensify as Ukraine war builds. What is Putin's threshold?

Fred GuterlNewsweek

Quoted: “If the Russian campaign starts to feel like it's a military catastrophe, that's where escalation to nuclear weapons comes into play,” says Barry Posen, Ford International Professor of Political Science at MIT....“I don't like the discussions I'm hearing from the fringes of the establishment,” says Posen. “I don't like the emotions running hot. I don't like the weird appearance on our side, way too early, of a kind of victory disease: ‘Let's win this thing. Maybe Putin will fall’.”

Faculty from teams in the “Building equity and fairness into climate solutions” category share their thoughts on the need for inclusive solutions that prioritize disadvantaged, minority, and indigenous populations.

In the News

March 4, 2022

Q&A: Climate Grand Challenges finalists on building equity and fairness into climate solutions

MIT News Office

A team led by Evan Lieberman, professor of political science and director of the MIT Global Diversity Lab and MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives, Danielle Wood, assistant professor in the Program in Media Arts and Sciences and the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and Siqi Zheng, professor of urban and real estate sustainability in the Center for Real Estate and the Department of Urban Studies and Planning, is seeking to  reduce ethnic and racial group-based disparities in the capacity of urban communities to adapt to the changing climate.

Protestors holding up a sign that reads: End Systemic Racism

In the News

March 3, 2022

3 Questions: Fotini Christia on racial equity and data science

Institute for Data, Systems, and SocietyMIT News

A new MIT-wide effort launched by the Institute for Data, Systems, and Society uses social science and computation to address systemic racism.

In the News

March 2, 2022

Q&A: Elizabeth Wood on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

MIT News asked Elizabeth Wood, professor of history at MIT and author of the 2016 book “Roots of Russia’s War in Ukraine” (published by the Woodrow Wilson Center and Columbia University Press), to evaluate the situation, as of the beginning of March, slightly less than a week after the invasion began.

Carol Saivetz on Ch 10 news speaking on the Russia Ukraine war

In the News

February 24, 2022

What are the implications of the Russian attack on Ukraine?

10 Boston

Carol Saivetz discusses the Russian attacks in Ukraine and the international community’s response.


Ukraine poster image from event

In the News

February 4, 2022

Is an armed conflict imminent?

Peter DizikesMIT News

As Russia masses military equipment near Ukraine borders, experts in an MIT Starr Forum express concern about possible action and its consequences.

Ada Petriczko (center) stands with MIT professors Sally Haslanger (left) and Libby McDonald. Petriczko participated in their Gender and Development course at the MIT D-Lab.

In the News

February 2, 2022

3Q: Women’s rights and rising threats to press freedom worldwide

Michelle EnglishMIT News

Polish journalist Ada Petriczko, an Elizabeth Neuffer Fellow at CIS, discusses ethical and cross-border journalism, freedom of speech, and the rise of autocracy.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, left, and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet in the Kremlin in Moscow in 2019. (Alexander Zemlianichenko/Pool/AP)

In the News

February 1, 2022

As Putin heads to Beijing, Russia and China’s stronger ties are a headache for the US

Eva Dou and Mary Ilyushina The Washington Post

Quoted: But M Taylor Fravel, director of the security studies program at MIT, said there are also risks for China in a Ukraine war, so Russia shouldn’t count too much on Beijing’s support. China buys a significant amount of military equipment from Ukraine and would be caught in the middle, he said.  “China has been willing to a point to try to provide diplomatic support for Russia,” Fravel said. “But China doesn’t want to see armed conflict erupt.”

photo of NATO flag

In the News

January 27, 2022

There is no NATO open-door policy

Michael O'Hanlon and Stephen Van EveraThe Hill

In the current crisis involving Russia, Ukraine and Western countries, it is often asserted that because the NATO alliance has an “open-door” policy, Ukraine must retain its right to join the alliance someday. That is incorrect.

Ukrainian soldiers take part in annual joint military exercises with the US and other NATO countries near Lviv, Ukraine, on September 24, 2021, as tensions with Russia remained high over the Kremlin-backed insurgency in the country’s east. Yuriy Dyachyshyn/AFP via Getty Images

In the News

January 27, 2022

How America’s NATO expansion obsession plays into the Ukraine crisis

Jonathan GuyerVox

Quoted: In the early ’90s, that generation of national security operatives weren’t prepared to forfeit leverage in Europe. “NATO had to find something to do or go out of business, and these people who grew up all their lives alongside it would not let it go out of business,” said Barry Posen, a political scientist at MIT.

Carol Saivetz speaking on the news from her home office

In the News

January 24, 2022

Ukrainian family in Boston hoping for de-escalation of conflict with Russia

Bianca BeltranNBC 10 Boston

Quoted: “Putin has upped the ante,” said Carol Saivetz, senior advisor in the MIT Security Studies Program. “We are signaling to the Russians that we are very serious about this by talking about deploying troops in the Baltic states.” Saivetz thinks despite the show of force, none of the countries involved want to engage in a land war. “The question is, ‘How can you use diplomacy?’ Can you turn the screws enough so that he will say, ‘OK, I've got what I needed, where is the off ramp here?’” she said.  

Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, and Russian President Vladimir Putin during the BRICS summit in Brasilia, Brazil, Nov. 14, 2019 (AP photo by Pavel Golovkin).

In the News

January 19, 2022

China plays the waiting game on the Russia-Ukraine crisis

China Note-TakerWorld Politics Review

Quoted: China is hoping to “strike a balance in its relationship with Russia and the United States by not taking a clear public position that might antagonize one or the other,” Fravel, who is the director of the Security Studies Program at MIT, told World Politics Review. Beijing’s reticence to make bold pronouncements also reflects its lack of a clear policy framework to deal with the crisis, given its conflicting interests, Fravel added.

Map of China and Bhutan showing the disputed area and where the construction is occurring

In the News

January 12, 2022

China steps up construction along disputed Bhutan border

Devjyot Ghoshal, Anand Katakam and Aditi BhandariReuters

Quoted:  The settlements appear part of a plan Beijing made public in 2017 to build more than 600 villages in border areas in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), which lies on the Chinese side of the disputed border, said Barnett and M Taylor Fravel, director of the Security Studies Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  Fravel said the construction indicated China likely wanted to consolidate its control and improve infrastructure in border areas.

Chinese soldiers in formation with rifles marching

In the News

January 11, 2022

Chinese army begins 2022 training program


Quoted: M Taylor Fravel, Director of the Security Studies Program at MIT, noted several interesting points about the 2022 order.  One noteworthy thing is that the text was quite personalized, with Xi saying, “I command...”  The personal pronoun “I” was used in 2018, but not in subsequent ones... Fravel noted, “Unlike previous orders, this year's order lacked no details about the goals for PLA training.  These goals often identify what the PLA views to be obstacles/shortcomings to be sumounted and to ‘unify thought’ around these goals to improve capabilities.  Instead this yar's order only contained a general exhortation to train elite troops and uphold a spirit of not fearing hardship or death.”

Vipin Narang and his new book Seeking the Bomb

In the News

January 11, 2022

A look at how countries go nuclear—and why some do not

Peter DizikesMIT News

In his new book, “Seeking the Bomb,” Vipin Narang looks at the variety of tactics countries use as they attempt to acquire nuclear weapons.

Moscow skyline

In the News

January 10, 2022

Where things stand between the US and Russia


Monday the US and Russia kicked off security talks, in an effort to defuse soaring tensions over Russia’s military buildup on its border with Ukraine. Sue O’Connell spoke with Carol Saivetz, a senior advisor for the Security Studies Program at MIT.

Inspection parade of Japan Ground Self Defense Force in Asaka base, Tokyo (Shutterstock)

In the News

January 3, 2022

Does Japan aspire to be a superpower?

Alec DubroForeign Policy in Focus (FPIF)

Quoted: But a huge defense budget alone is not a reliable measure of power, according to Richard Samuels, director of MIT’s Japan Program and of its Center for International Studies. Said Samuels, “Japan is unlikely to be ever be able to deter China on its own (short of nuclear breakout), and is therefore being diligent in hugging the US and cultivating relations with other countries in the region—and, you will have noticed, in Europe as well.”