Loisach Group Note # 1

Breaking the Cycle of Corruption in Ukraine

Valbona Zeneli

Key Findings

  • Corruption poses a critical threat to the national security of Ukraine, which is in the grip of a “dual state” where the rule of law is systematically subverted by the country’s powerful oligarchs. The creation of a high level Anti-Corruption Advisory Board would help to keep Ukrainian leaders accountable.
  • Ukraine should successfully implement good governance reforms not only to enhance its security and prosperity, but also to improve its international image and increase western economic support as well as improve its chances for Euro-Atlantic integration.
  • The United States and Germany are aligned in their approaches to promoting good governance reforms and should continue to lead external efforts to support serious transformation in Ukraine. Building resilience in Ukraine, both institutional and societal, would contribute to security and stability in the region, as well as in the wider Euro-Atlantic community.

Loisach Group Note # 2

Conflict Management in Ukraine

Graeme P. Herd and Nikolas K. Gvosdev

Key Findings

  • A year into the Trump administration, continuity in U.S.-European security policy remains high. There is, in fact, greater consensus between the German and U.S. national security teams on the transatlantic relationship, Ukraine, and Russia than there is agreement within these states, especially in terms of public opinion.
  • German-U.S. strategic partnership and leadership is the fundamental center of gravity of the political West. Conflict management in Ukraine has become a binding agent in transatlantic relations, demonstrating Western resolve to defend common interests and values.
  • Differences in approach, red lines, and priorities center on the balance between encouraging future Russian cooperation on one hand and political and economic punishment of past behavior on the other. This process needs to be politically managed through intensified U.S. and German strategic dialogue.

Loisach Group Note # 3

Defeating the Russian Information Operations Challenge

Jack Clarke

Key Findings

  • Russia’s disruptive and destabilizing information operations against other governments and societies are causing great damage at low cost and thus far low risk. These operations enable Russia to exert covert or semi-covert influence instead of (although, at times, also alongside) more aggressive, overt military, economic, or diplomatic actions.
  • Real resilience, not just words, is the only true defense against these activities. Prevention and mitigation strategies must be developed and put into place so that systems and societies can withstand multiple, sustained penetrations without failure.
  • Holding individuals, organizations, and states accountable—naming names—is the key to countering cyber aggression.

Loisach Group Note # 4

A Call for a Comprehensive Arctic Strategy

Joseph Vann

The changing security environment in the Arctic is a topic of interest to the United States and Germany. The last several decades have witnessed the largest retreat of Arctic sea ice in human history. As sea ice retreats, industries and governments are showing interest in exploiting the Arctic’s abundant reserves of oil, gas, minerals, and fish stocks. These new conditions require an increased emphasis on promoting strategic dialogue regarding the impact of these changes on the countries of the High North, the security of the Arctic region, and the development of long-term cooperative strategies for this region.

  • The Arctic Council has demonstrated considerable success as an intergovernmental forum for promoting cooperation and coordination among the Arctic States. Within its existing mandate, the Arctic Council should play a greater role in developing strategy and be funded to establish expert groups with other High North organizations for the purpose of informing international decision-making on Arctic activity.
  • The Euro-Atlantic partnership, particularly the United States and Germany, should collaborate in developing and promoting a cooperative international strategy to address security and economic activity in the Arctic and the countries of the High North.
  • NATO countries, as well, have a vested interest in the Arctic, necessitating the development of a comprehensive NATO strategy for Arctic operations and contingencies.

Loisach Group Note # 5

Policy Towards Russia

Marshall Center Faculty Team


The Kremlin’s pursuit of a “post-Western world order,” sustained by a consistently non-liberal belief system, expanded and enhanced military capabilities, and ambitious foreign policy aims, poses stark and evolving challenges to U.S. and German interests and values. The Kremlin’s policies threaten Washington and Berlin in different ways. The Trump administration sees Russia, as well as China, as a global revisionist power, while Germany perceives Russian challenges in a regional context. For the United States, Russia is a great regional power relevant to U.S. policy-making, but not a central organizing principle for its national security. The U.S. is much more insulated than Germany from problems Russia can initiate and exploit. Germany sees Russia as a threat to the European order but not to Germany per se. For both Washington and Berlin, two sets of issues are associated with Moscow: short-term threats posed by President Putin’s concrete policies and long-term challenges posed by the Russian elite’s consensus view regarding self and the world. Russia opposes the legitimate and sustainable rules-based liberal order. Though Russia is in long-term structural decline, it is resilient and sanctions are not changing its behavior.

Loisach Group Note # 6

Cyber Security Policy

Jack Clarke and Andreas Geuckler

Part I

A cyber conflict is not a remote threat. On a daily basis, both the United States and Germany face an enormous number of cyber-attacks against all sorts of targets, including military and other security sector networks. The challenge of cyber security is thus an essential issue facing both Germany and the United States. Their documented approaches share many common elements, though differences are apparent in terms of emphasis, capabilities, and readiness to take action.

Loisach Group Note # 7

Deterrence Policy

Peter Frank

Part I

Deterrence is a dynamic process involving power instruments, such as strategic action to reassure allies (show resolve) and communication. During the Cold War, mutual vulnerability on the strategic level prevented a major conventional war, since both sides were unwilling to risk a major nuclear war. However, below a certain threshold, the main actors pursued strategic competition and power politics, which resulted in arms races and proxy wars and the exploitation of an adversary’s weaknesses. Today the central issue of deterrence remains the same as it was in the Cold War: how to maintain the credibility of the U.S. threat to employ nuclear weapons in the defense of allies—extended deterrence as an instrument of war prevention, reassurance, and nuclear non-proliferation—in the face of adversaries that can retaliate with devastating nuclear attacks against the U.S. itself.

Loisach Group Note # 8

Missile Defense Policy

Andreas Geuckler

During the Cold War, neither NATO nor the Warsaw Pact had effective ballistic missile defense (BMD). Germany was prepared to fight a conventional war on its own territory along with its NATO allies, relying on tactical nuclear weapons and the strategic nuclear umbrella of the United States as a last (and final) resort. For this purpose, the German air force—including its layered land-based air defense missile systems—was fully integrated into the NATO command structure. After reunification of Germany and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, nobody saw a need to upgrade Germany’s air defense because there was no clear threat. It was only after the German Bundeswehr participated in missions abroad that the German Ministry of Defense saw the need for this and therefore acquired a limited missile defense capability by upgrading its U.S.-made PATRIOT air defense missile systems. As the U.S. has worldwide interests, obligations, and threat perceptions, it had a different perspective. Both countries are—at least in Europe—on the same page, since the NATO summit in Portugal in November 2010 resolved to implement a “NATO ballistic missile defense” for Europe.

Loisach Group Note # 9

Terrorism Policy

Sebastian von Münchow

The U.S. and Germany regard terrorism as a prominent threat. In his foreword to the National Security Strategy of 2017, President Trump specifically highlights “radical Islamist terror groups” and the links between “jihadist terrorists” and transnational organized crime. He further stresses the importance of the role of renewed regional friendships in securing victories against ISIS on the ground. The importance of international partnerships in addressing future manifestations of ISIS is also emphasized, as even when territorially defeated it will “continue to spread a barbaric ideology that calls for the violent destruction of governments … [and] attempt to force those under their influence to submit to Sharia law.”