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Dr. Stephen J. Blank

Senior Fellow
Area(s) of Expertise: Russia, Commonwealth of Independent States, Eastern Europe.

Phone: (717) 245-4085
Email Dr. Stephen J. Blank

Photo Dr. Stephen J. Blank has served as the Strategic Studies Institute’s expert on the Soviet bloc and the post-Soviet world since 1989. Prior to that he was Associate Professor of Soviet Studies at the Center for Aerospace Doctrine, Research, and Education, Maxwell Air Force Base, AL; and taught at the University of Texas, San Antonio; and at the University of California, Riverside. Dr. Blank is the editor of Imperial Decline: Russia’s Changing Position in Asia, coeditor of Soviet Military and the Future, and author of The Sorcerer as Apprentice: Stalin’s Commissariat of Nationalities, 1917-1924. He has also written many articles and conference papers on Russia, the Commonwealth of Independent States, and Eastern European security issues. Dr. Blank’s current research deals with proliferation and the revolution in military affairs, and energy and security in Eurasia. His two most recent books are Russo-Chinese Energy Relations: Politics in Command, London, UK: Global Markets Briefing, 2006; and Natural Allies?: Regional Security in Asia and Prospects for Indo-American Strategic Cooperation, Carlisle, PA: Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College, 2005. Dr. Blank holds a B.A. in history from the University of Pennsylvania, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in history from the University of Chicago.

*The above information may not be current. It was current at the time when the individual worked for SSI or was published by SSI.

SSI books and monographs by Dr. Stephen J. Blank

  • Politics and Economics in Putin's Russia

    December 10, 2013

    Edited by Dr. Stephen J. Blank.
    View the Executive Summary

    Is this the beginning of the end for Putin's system? The authors investigate the structural bases for Russia's domestic challenges, if not crisis.

  • Central Asia After 2014

    November 03, 2013

    Edited by Dr. Stephen J. Blank.
    View the Executive Summary

    The papers collected here offer assessments of Sino-Russian rivalry, the U.S.-Russian rivalry, and a neglected but critical topic, Chinese military capability for action in Central Asia. All of these issues are essential for any informed analysis of the future of Central Asian security, as well as relations among the great powers in Central Asia.

  • Russia's Homegrown Insurgency: Jihad in the North Caucasus

    October 24, 2012

    Edited by Dr. Stephen J. Blank.
    The insurgency in the North Caucasus is virtually unknown outside Russia, but it is the greatest threat to Russia’s domestic security. These studies open that “ black box” and provide much analysis that should lead to further reflection on the issues of Islamist insurgency and counterinsurgency.

  • Russia and the Current State of Arms Control

    September 21, 2012

    Edited by Dr. Stephen J. Blank.
    The chapters in this volume focus on Russian developments in arms control in the light of the so-called New Start Treaty signed and ratified in 2010 by Russia and the United States in Prague, Czech Republic.

  • Perspectives on Russian Foreign Policy

    September 12, 2012

    Edited by Dr. Stephen J. Blank.
    Charles de Gaulle said that states are cold monsters. To see how perhaps one of the coldest of these monsters thinks about and acts in world politics take a look at these essays from SSI’s annual Russia conference of September 26-27, 2011.

  • Arms Control and European Security

    August 10, 2012

    Edited by Dr. Stephen J. Blank, COL Louis H. Jordan, Jr.
    Is the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty dead, or waiting to be reborn? These three papers from the United States, the United Kingdom, and Russia illuminate the complexities and dilemmas facing any attempt to raise the vexed issue of conventional arms control in Europe.

  • Can Russia Reform? Economic, Political, and Military Perspectives

    June 07, 2012

    Edited by Dr. Stephen J. Blank.
    Can or will Russia reform its state, economy, and armed forces at the same time? These papers provide an answer to those questions.

  • Russian Nuclear Weapons: Past, Present, and Future

    November 22, 2011

    Edited by Dr. Stephen J. Blank.
    A new work by leading Russian, European, and U.S. experts analyzing the multiple issues of force structure, doctrine, strategy, and Russian national security policy connected with Russia’s reliance on nuclear weapons as the main deterrent of threats to its security.

  • Arms Control and Proliferation Challenges to the Reset Policy

    October 31, 2011

    Authored by Dr. Stephen J. Blank.
    What are the prospects for further progress in the reset policy with Russia regarding arms control and nuclear proliferation by North Korea and Iran? This monograph attempts to postulate where we are, and possibly where we should be going, or will be going, with respect to these issues.

  • Russia in the Arctic

    July 13, 2011

    Edited by Dr. Stephen J. Blank.
    The Arctic is the newest sphere of international competition for energy and security access. It pits Russia against the other Arctic states. These essays fully explore and analyze what is at stake here and what Moscow has done to increase its capability and influence in the Arctic.

  • Central Asian Security Trends: Views from Europe and Russia

    April 19, 2011

    Edited by Dr. Stephen J. Blank.
    The war in Afghanistan has made Central Asia an ever more important strategic theater and one over which many states compete to exert influence. This monograph comprehensively analyzes Russia's efforts to exert its influence in the region through 2010.

  • Russian Military Politics and Russia's 2010 Defense Doctrine

    March 15, 2011

    Edited by Dr. Stephen J. Blank.
    These three papers illuminate the political struggles among the government and the military in Russia to forge a new defense doctrine and ultimately the 2010 doctrine itself. No analysis of Russian defense or security policy is complete without the understanding and analysis provided here.

  • Civil-Military Relations in Medvedev's Russia

    January 25, 2011

    Edited by Dr. Stephen J. Blank.
    Civil-military relations in Russia are a critical topic in understanding the domestic and foreign policy trajectories of the Russian state. This monograph show how highly undemocratic, and even dangerous, the absence of those democratic controls over the military and the police forces in Russia, when taken together, comprise multiple militaries.

  • Russia's Prospects in Asia

    December 08, 2010

    Edited by Dr. Stephen J. Blank.
    To what degree should we take Russia seriously as an important actor in Asia? The three chapters here, taken from an SSI conference in January 2010, actively debate the prospects for Russia as it makes its way in an increasingly complex Asian environment characterized by China’s rising power and multiple threats, such as proliferation in Korea and the Taiwan issue.

  • The Russian Military Today and Tomorrow: Essays in Memory of Mary Fitzgerald

    July 14, 2010

    Edited by Dr. Stephen J. Blank, Dr. Richard Weitz.
    The essays in this volume represent both a memorial and an analytical call to action. Mary Fitzgerald of the Hudson Institute was one of the most brilliant and vivacious practitioners of the study of the Russian and Chinese militaries, whose insights helped not just to put those fields of study on the map, but also to influence U.S. military thinking.

  • Challenges and Opportunities for the Obama Administration in Central Asia

    June 01, 2009

    Authored by Dr. Stephen J. Blank.
    President Obama has outlined a comprehensive strategy for the war in Afghanistan which is now the central front of our campaign against Islamic terrorism. The strategy strongly connects our prosecution of that war to our policy in Pakistan and internal developments there as a necessary condition of victory. The author argues that a new approach, relying heavily on improved coordination at home and the more effective leveraging of our superior economic power in Central Asia to help stabilize the region so that it provides a secure rear to Afghanistan, is just as important.

  • Russia and Arms Control: Are There Opportunities for the Obama Administration?

    March 11, 2009

    Authored by Dr. Stephen J. Blank.
    As of September 2008, the Bush administration was contemplating not just a break in arms talks but actual sanctions, and allowed the bilateral civil nuclear treaty with Russia to die in the Senate rather than go forward for confirmation. Russian spokesmen make clear their belief that American concessions on key elements of arms control issues like missile defenses in Europe are a touchstone for the relationship and a condition of any further progress towards genuine dialogue.

  • Prospects for U.S.-Russian Security Cooperation

    March 04, 2009

    Edited by Dr. Stephen J. Blank.
    The prospects for U.S.-Russian security cooperation lay buried under the wheels of Russia’s invasion of Georgia in August 2008. But ultimately, given Russia's power, standing, and nuclear capability, dialogue and cooperation will be resumed at some point in the future. Therefore, an analysis of the prospects for and conditions favoring such cooperation is an urgent and important task that cries out for clarification precisely because current U.S.-Russian relations are so difficult.

  • Towards a New Russia Policy

    March 04, 2008

    Authored by Dr. Stephen J. Blank.
    Russia presents an ever greater challenge to American policy and interests. This monograph analyzes the dimensions of Russian threat perception, the mainsprings and goals of contemporary Russian foreign policy, and the requirements for a coherent U.S. strategy to meet that challenge across the entire agenda of Russo-American and East-West relations.

  • Turkmenistan and Central Asia after Niyazov

    September 28, 2007

    Authored by Dr. Stephen J. Blank.
    Turkmenistan, a key natural gas producer in Central Asia is undergoing a transition from the sultanistic regime of President Sapirmurat Niyazov to some other form of rule. It also is being courted by all the major powers in Central Asian politics. This monograph examines the domestic dynamics of succession here and in Central Asia and the entwined international rivalry or great game for energy access and influence over regional security in Central Asia.

  • U.S. Interests in Central Asia and the Challenges to Them

    March 22, 2007

    Authored by Dr. Stephen J. Blank.
    The author assesses U.S. interests in Central Asia and the challenges to them. He recommends policies designed to meet those challenges to American policy in this increasingly more important area of the world.

  • Rosoboroneksport: Arms Sales and the Structure of Russian Defense Industry

    January 31, 2007

    Authored by Dr. Stephen J. Blank.
    Although Russian observers believe that Washington imposed sanctions on Russian arms sellers and producers because of these firms’ arms sales to Venezuela. Sales to such dangerous states oblige us to analyze the Russian defense export program and the structure of its defense industry.

  • The NATO-Russia Partnership: A Marriage of Convenience or a Troubled Relationship?

    November 14, 2006

    Authored by Dr. Stephen J. Blank.
    Since 2002 Russia has embarked upon a relationship of partnership with NATO, but close examination of this partnership shows an enormous amount of Rusisan ambivalence and, indeed, growing resistance to many of NATO’s activities and programs. This growing ambivalence, and even estrangement, reflects both domestic Rusisan trends and the deterioration of East-West security ties.

  • Natural Allies? Regional Security in Asia and Prospects for Indo-American Strategic Cooperation

    October 01, 2005

    Authored by Dr. Stephen J. Blank.
    American military power has created a strategic revolution by its successful and prolonged projection into and from Central Asia. This monograph explores the strategic and policy ramifications of that revolution in strategic affairs.

  • After Two Wars: Reflections on the American Strategic Revolution in Central Asia

    July 01, 2005

    Authored by Dr. Stephen J. Blank.
    U.S. military access to Central Asia and the Caucasus is a long-standing fact, but it is desirable as well for the future. The author explains why it is necessary, and how we might ensure that we retain this access to confront future contingencies.

  • Rethinking Asymmetric Threats

    September 01, 2003

    Authored by Dr. Stephen J. Blank.
    U.S. policymakers, officials, and writers on defense have employed the terms "asymmetric" or "asymmetry" to characterize everything from the nature of the threats we face to the nature of war and beyond. The author challenges the utility of using those terms to characterize the threats we face, one element of the broader debate over the nature of war, U.S. strategy, and the threats confronting us.

  • Strategic Effects of Conflict with Iraq: Post-Soviet States

    March 01, 2003

    Authored by Dr. Stephen J. Blank.
    The author has been asked to analyze four issues: the position that key states in their region are taking on U.S. military action against Iraq; the role of America in the region after the war with Iraq; the nature of security partnerships in the region after the war with Iraq; and the effect that war with Iraq will have on the war on terrorism in the region.

  • The Future of Transcaspian Security

    August 01, 2002

    Authored by Dr. Stephen J. Blank.
    Explores the unprecedented opportunities that are now before the U.S. and recommends actions that the Government and armed forces should undertake to consolidate and extend the newly emerging military partnership and cooperative security regime that are now developing. The proper way to exploit them will become a subject of debate.

  • Threats to Russian Security: The View from Moscow

    July 01, 2000

    Authored by Dr. Stephen J. Blank.
    The documented threat assessments addressed here are clearly the culmination to date of a long-standing process by which the Russian military and government have forsaken the optimistic Westernizing postures and visions of the initial post-Soviet years and returned in many respects to assessments and demands for specific policies that evoke the Soviet mentality and period.

  • U.S. Military Engagement with Transcaucasia and Central Asia

    June 01, 2000

    Authored by Dr. Stephen J. Blank.
    The Clinton administration has proclaimed a strategy to engage and enlarge the democratic community of states. By virtue of their strategic location adjacent to Russia, the Middle East, and Europe s periphery, and their large-scale oil and natural gas deposits, Transcaucasia and Central Asia have become important testing grounds of this strategy.

  • European Security: Washington's Shaping Strategy in Action

    March 01, 2000

    Authored by Dr. Stephen J. Blank, Dr. Thomas-Durell Young, Dr. William T. Johnsen.
    Notwithstanding the claims of some in the United States, European affairs continue to dominate U.S. foreign policy and strategic thinking. The end of the Cold War has not seen any blurring of the focus of U.S. officials on European affairs. Managing the implications of the break-up of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact, the seemingly never-ending conflicts in the Balkans, increasing Western norms and institutions in Central and Eastern Europe, and expanding and reforming the North Atlantic Alliance are just some of the issues that require firm and consistent U.S. leadership.

  • Mediterranean Security into the Coming Millennium

    August 01, 1999

    Edited by Dr. Stephen J. Blank.
    The papers included in this volume represent just such an effort to lay a firmer foundation for this continuing dialogue and to bring together different points of view. In October 1998, the Strategic Studies Institute, assisted by Pepperdine University, assembled a distinguished group of analysts from the United States, Europe, and the Middle East, in Florence, Italy.

  • East Asia in Crisis: The Security Implications of the Collapse of Economic Institutions

    February 01, 1999

    Authored by Dr. Stephen J. Blank.
    The challenges to the United States and to its armed forces are numerous and highly significant. Moreover, we must begin to address them now even if other institutions cannot or will not do so with us.

  • NATO After Enlargement: New Challenges, New Missions, New Forces

    September 01, 1998

    Edited by Dr. Stephen J. Blank.
    In 1999 NATO will formally admit three new members and adopt a new strategic concept. In so doing, it will take giant strides towards effecting a revolutionary transformation of European security. On the one hand, it could be said that NATO enlargement closes the immediate post-Cold War period that began with the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989. But on the other hand, enlargement raises a host of serious new issues for the Alliance and for U.S. policymakers that they must begin to address now.

  • European Security and NATO Enlargement: A View from Central Europe

    April 01, 1998

    Edited by Dr. Stephen J. Blank.
    On August 4-5, 1997, the Strategic Studies Institute (SSI), together with the Reserve Officers Association, cosponsored a conference in Prague on "Eurasian Security in the Era of NATO Enlargement."

  • Russia's Armed Forces on the Brink of Reform

    March 01, 1998

    Authored by Dr. Stephen J. Blank.
    Despite over a dozen years of talk, the Soviet and now Russian military has not undergone a true military reform. What did happen was a form of degeneration and disintegration, but not a methodically planned and directed transformation and/or adaptation to new conditions. Consequently, defense policy, in all of its ramifications, has remained essentially unreformed and remains an impediment to Russia's accommodation to today's strategic realities.

  • NATO Enlargement and the Baltic States: What Can the Great Powers Do?

    November 01, 1997

    Authored by Dr. Stephen J. Blank.
    NATO's enlargement has brought it to the borders of the Baltic states who covet membership in NATO. However, admitting them into NATO is one of the most difficult problems for the Alliance because of Russia's unconditional opposition to such action and because of NATO's own internal divisions on this issue. Nonetheless, a new regime or system of security for the entire Baltic region must now be on the U.S. and European agenda.

  • From Madrid to Brussels: Perspectives on NATO Enlargement

    June 01, 1997

    Edited by Dr. Stephen J. Blank.
    NATO's enlargement will be perhaps the most important defense and foreign policy issue of 1997. Certainly, its impact will exert a decisive influence on the future evolution of European security and the institutions that comprise it.

  • Why Russian Policy is Failing in Asia

    April 01, 1997

    Authored by Dr. Stephen J. Blank.
    Since its inception as a state, Russia has been both a European and an Asian power. Although Russia today, as was true during much of its history, is torn by an identity crisis over where it belongs, its elites have never renounced Russia's vital interests in Asia and the belief that it should be recognized as a great power there. However, that belief and Moscow's ability to sustain it are now under threat, due, as Dr. Stephen Blank's thorough analysis informs us, to the ongoing failures of Russian policymakers to come to grips with changed Russian and Asian realities.

  • The Dynamics of Russian Weapon Sales to China

    March 01, 1997

    Authored by Dr. Stephen J. Blank.
    Russia has recently sold or transferred many military weapons or technologies to China. Russian state policy has also officially joined with China in a relationship described as a strategic cooperative partnership.

  • Finnish Security and European Security Policy

    September 01, 1996

    Authored by Dr. Stephen J. Blank.
    In 1995 Finland joined the European Union (EU). This action culminated several years of a fundamental reorientation of Finnish security policy as Finland moved from the neutrality imposed on it by the Soviet Union to a policy with a priority on European integration through the European Union. Finland, in joining the EU, has retained its independent defense and security posture, even as it seeks to strengthen its standing abroad and gain added leverage, through the EU, for dealing with Russia.

  • Russian Security Policy in the Asia-Pacific Region: Two Views

    May 01, 1996

    Authored by Major General (Retired) Anatoly Bolyatko, Peggy Falkenheim Meyer. Edited by Dr. Stephen J. Blank.
    In May 1995, the British Ministry of Defence, the Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College, the RAND Corporation, the Institute for National Security Studies of the U.S. Air Force Academy, and King's College, London, hosted a conference at King's College on "Russian Defense and Security Policy."

  • Prague, NATO, and European Security

    April 01, 1996

    Authored by Dr. Stephen J. Blank.
    One of the most likely candidates for future membership in NATO is the Czech Republic. Inasmuch as the debate over this issue is engaging chancelleries all over the United States and Europe, it is necessary to understand how the prospective members view European security issues, what they hope to gain from membership, and how their interests and security relationships mesh with NATO's.

  • Yugoslavia's Wars: The Problem from Hell

    October 01, 1995

    Edited by Dr. Stephen J. Blank.
    The continuing warfare in the former Yugoslavia looms as one of the most intractable problems in contemporary world politics. For four years the international community has struggled merely to contain this fire and prevent it from inflaming a general European crisis.

  • U.S. Policy in the Balkans: A Hobson's Choice

    August 01, 1995

    Authored by Dr. Stephen J. Blank, Dr. William T. Johnsen, Dr. Earl H. Tilford, Jr..
    At this writing, the strategic balance may have shifted in the ongoing war in the former Yugoslavia, and the region could be on the verge of a settlement. But, the "window of opportunity" may be fleeting, and the failures and frustrations of the past four years temper any optimism that conflict in the former Yugoslavia will end quickly or completely.

  • Russian Defense Legislation and Russian Democracy

    August 01, 1995

    Authored by Dr. Stephen J. Blank.
    As recent events demonstrate, Russia's political system has yet to stabilize. This is particularly the case with civil-military relations for, as the course of the Chechnya invasion reveals, control by the government over the military is erratic and the military is all too often politicized.

  • Reform and the Revolution in Russian Defense Economics

    May 01, 1995

    Authored by Dr. Stephen J. Blank.
    As Russia's invasion of Chechnya shows, the Russian armed forces are suffering from tremendous shortages of capable leaders and soldiers. These problems, among others, relate directly to the shortage of funds for the military. Yet Russia cannot afford to spend more than it is now spending on the armed forces.

  • Energy, Economics, and Security in Central Asia: Russia and Its Rivals

    March 01, 1995

    Authored by Dr. Stephen J. Blank.
    The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 led to the creation of five new states in Central Asia. These states: Kazkahstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Kyrgyzstan, have become both the object of international rivalries in Central Asia and the sources of new political forces as they act to enlarge their independence in world politics.

  • Russia's Invasion of Chechnya: A Preliminary Assessment

    January 01, 1995

    Authored by Dr. Stephen J. Blank, Dr. Earl H. Tilford, Jr..
    On December 11, 1994, Russia invaded the secessionist republic of Chechnya in the North Caucasus. The aim was to suppress the republic's government, led by General Dzhokar Dudayev, compel it to accept Moscow's authority, and to force it to renounce its bid for independence and sovereignty.

  • Russian Policy and the Korean Crisis

    September 01, 1994

    Authored by Dr. Stephen J. Blank.
    North Korea's nuclear program is the greatest current threat to U.S. and Northeast Asian security. The outcome of negotiations over this program will have a tremendous impact on the future of the Korean peninsula and on the vital interests of the United States and neighboring states to North and South Korea: China, Japan, and Russia.

  • Energy and Security in Transcaucasia

    September 01, 1994

    Authored by Dr. Stephen J. Blank.
    One of the world's enduring regional conflicts is in Nagorno-Karabakh. This war pits local Armenians and their cousins from Armenia against Azerbaidzhan and has enmeshed Russia, Turkey and the Western allies (France, Great Britain, and the United States) in a complex series of regional relationships. The international stakes of this war involve the control over exploration for natural gas and oil and the transhipment of these commodities from Azerbaidzhan to the West. Energy resources represent Azerbaidzhan's primary means of economic modernization and are therefore vital to its economic and political freedom.

  • The New Russia in the New Asia

    July 01, 1994

    Authored by Dr. Stephen J. Blank.
    This monograph offers an account of the current struggle inside Russia over Asian policy and of the direction of that struggle. The author describes the dominant Russian viewpoints on policy in Asia. Current proponents of an Asian policy based primarily upon military considerations seem to hold sway.

  • Proliferation and Nonproliferation in Ukraine: Implications for European and U.S. Security

    July 01, 1994

    Authored by Dr. Stephen J. Blank.
    Limiting nuclear proliferation is a vital goal of U.S. security policy. With this in mind, the Strategic Studies Institute cosponsored a conference at the University of Pittsburgh on March 16-17, 1994 to deal with the issues involved in achieving this objective.

  • Does Russian Democracy Have a Future?

    July 01, 1994

    Edited by Dr. Stephen J. Blank, Dr. Earl H. Tilford, Jr..
    In 1854, on the eve of the Crimea campaign, Antoine Henri Jomini wrote, "The Russian Army is a wall which, however far it may retreat, you will always find in front of you." The political unrest and economic disarray that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union and the disintegration of the Communist Empire have altered, but not crippled, the formidable strength of the Russian military.

  • Turkey's Strategic Position at the Crossroads of World Affairs

    December 01, 1993

    Authored by Dr. Stephen J. Blank, Dr. William T. Johnsen, Dr. Stephen C. Pelletiere.
    This report analyzes the implications of Turkey's policies and the reactions of Turkey's neighbors in three discrete chapters. The authors focus their conclusions and options for U.S. policymakers on the effect of Turkish policies in Europe, the Middle East, and the former Soviet republics. The final chapter summarizes their conclusions with respect to the three regions and provides policy options for continuing U.S.-Turkish relations that are so important in the search for peace and stability in these regions.

  • Afghanistan and Beyond: Reflections on the Future of Warfare

    June 01, 1993

    Authored by Dr. Stephen J. Blank.
    This report provides an historical analysis of lessons from one of the most important wars of the 1980s, the war in Afghanistan. After reading this study, you will better understand the nature of operations "other than war" in multiethnic states. Many fear that these wars will set the paradigm for wars in the 1990s and will exert pressure on U.S. forces to conduct peacekeeping, peace-enforcement and humanitarian assistance operations in especially dangerous areas.