The Center for Global Affairs (CGA), a division of the School of Continuing and Professional Studies, today released Russia 2020, the latest report in its Scenarios Initiative.

NYU Center for Global Affairs “Russia 2020” Report Imagines Three Likely Outcomes for U.S.–Russia Relations

·        Part of Carnegie Corporation-Funded Scenarios Initiative

·        Report Includes Insight from Several Leading Foreign Policy Experts

The Center for Global Affairs (CGA), a division of the New York University School of Continuing and Professional Studies (NYU-SCPS), today released Russia 2020, the latest report in its Scenarios Initiative (  The report is the fourth in the CGA series that examines likely foreign policy issues to arise facing the United States, and the second of four funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

The CGA Scenarios Initiative aims to raise the quality of U.S. foreign policy by improving policymakers’ understanding of and reaction to change by gathering experts from diverse areas of backgrounds and nationalities to participate in scenario-building workshops.  Rather than attempting to predict Russia’s future, the Russia 2020 report, for which research began in February 2010, projects three likely alternative scenarios for the Russian government and its foreign policy position over the next decade.

The first scenario, referred to as “Working Authoritarianism,” describes a Russia that succeeds economically while retaining its authoritarian political structure.  In this scenario, Moscow is able to energize and diversify its economy without extensive liberalization by restructuring its energy sector and forging strategic commercial and financial alliances with China, Germany, and South Korea.

The second scenario is referred to as “Bottom-Up Liberalization & Modernization.”  In this scenario, Russia experiences a period of organic growth and reform, fueled by the dynamism of a new generation of entrepreneurs and capital from Moscow. New enterprises emerge in a number of Russia’s regions, symbolizing Russia’s economic rebirth and the beginning of political pluralism.

In the last of the three scenarios, “Degeneration,” the Russian government is unable to solve the country’s deep economic and social problems. It deflects alternative solutions that might weaken its grip on political power and the country continues to stagnate, forcing the regions to “fend for themselves.”  Gradually, state capacity erodes, social fabric breaks down, and the country begins to fragment politically and geographically.

“The NYU team lead by Professor Michael Oppenheimer has done a terrific job weaving together different strands of thinking from among a truly diverse multi-disciplinary group of scholars who were assembled to provide the initial input into the process,” said Oksana Antonenko, program director for Russia and Eurasia at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London. “The current publication with three distinct scenarios for Russia’s development over the next decade represents a very useful framework to conceptualize Russia’s future choice.”

The CGA Scenarios Initiative has attracted leading experts representing a wide range of academic, commercial, and diplomatic expertise in each of the target countries. These workshops are unscripted and conversational in nature. The format enables the participants to challenge prevailing assumptions and attitudes towards Russia and express their personal views. The Initiative is led by CGA Clinical Associate Professor Michael Oppenheimer, who has for nearly 40 years provided research, consulting, and policy advice for the U.S. foreign policy and intelligence communities, using similar scenarios-building exercises.

"Through the use of scenarios and alternative analyses, policymakers are better able to gain an understanding of a problem, its logic, future evolution, and alternate policy responses,” says Oppenheimer.  “The Initiative is designed to engage foreign policy makers directly in the scenario building and policy testing process, thus adding real value to policy deliberations. Our program also involves global and expert participation to minimize mirror imaging and policy or cultural bias.”

Previous reports have focused on China, Iran, and Iraq, and are available for download at  In October, a workshop will be held on the future of Ukraine, which will begin the research process for a full report, and a full report on Turkey will be forthcoming.  Each of these target countries are expected to be critical to U.S. interests over the next 10 years—as rivals, collaborators, and/or potential vectors of conflict. 

“The Scenarios Initiative grows naturally out of the mission of the Center for Global Affairs, to prepare our graduate students and current practitioners for a globalizing, complex, and rapidly changing world,” said CGA Divisional Dean Vera Jelinek. “Our program is interdisciplinary, global in composition, diverse in academic and professional backgrounds of students and faculty, and devoted to improving policymaking in government, intergovernmental organizations, NGOs, and private firms.”

EDITORS: For more information about the CGA Scenarios Initiative or to speak with Professor Michael Oppenheimer, please contact Cheryl Feliciano at 212-992-9103 or or Keith Campbell at 212-725-4500 or


About the Center for Global Affairs and the NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies—The Center for Global Affairs, one of several comprehensive academic divisions within the New York University School of Continuing and Professional Studies (NYU-SCPS), offers graduate and continuing education programs in global affairs and hosts a series of vibrant public events on related topics. Established in 1934, NYU-SCPS ( is one of NYU’s several degree-granting schools and colleges, each with a unique academic profile. The reputation of NYU-SCPS arises from its place as the NYU home for study and applied research related to key knowledge-based industries where the New York region leads globally. This is manifest in the School’s diverse graduate, undergraduate, and continuing education programs in fields such as Real Estate and Construction Management; Hospitality, Tourism, and Sports Management; Global Affairs; Philanthropy and Fundraising; Graphic Communications Media, Publishing, and Digital Arts; Human Capital Management, Marketing, and Public Relations; with complementary strengths in the Liberal and Allied Arts, Translation and Interpreting, Management and Information Technology, and Finance and Taxation. More than 100 distinguished full-time faculty members collaborate with an exceptional cadre of practitioner/adjunct faculty and lecturers to create vibrant professional and academic networks that attract some 4,200 degree-seeking students from every corner of the region and the world.  In addition, the School fulfills the recurrent continuing higher education needs of local and professional communities, as evidenced by 55,000 annual enrollments in individual courses, specialized certificate programs, conferences, workshops, seminars, and public events.

Press Contact

Cheryl Feliciano
Cheryl Feliciano
(212) 998-6865