The Russia-U.S. High Level Dialogue on Cyberspace Cooperation

News | August 11, 2016

The EastWest Institute (EWI), together with the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC), hosted the first Russia-U.S. High Level Dialogue on Cyberspace Cooperation from May 15-17, 2016 in Moscow, Russia. The dialogue brought together a diverse set of Russian and U.S. cyber experts, former and current government officials, business leaders and academics. The Russian delegation was led by Andrey Kortunov, Director General of RIAC, while the American delegation was led by Michael Chertoff, former U.S. Secretary for Homeland Security and Executive Chairman of The Chertoff Group.

Several common threads emerged during the dialogue, creating a framework for future discussion. Two major areas of agreement focused on 1) working more closely to prevent terrorist use of the Internet, and 2) addressing lost Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) requests and improving communication in this field. While divisions remain between the two sides, both delegations agree that it is essential to move forward in developing cooperation within cyberspace. 

The U.S. delegation also had the opportunity to visit Group-IB, a private investigative company dedicated to preventing cyber crime, Yandex Company, one of Russia’s largest Internet service providers, as well as the State Duma of the Russian Federation. Russian leaders in both the public and private sectors were emphatic that in cyberspace, approaches must involve the public, private and non-governmental sectors to be effective.

Since the dialogue, EWI and RIAC have been working to ensure that the key outcomes and recommendations are disseminated and advocated for in a number of public and discreet ways through both institutions’ deep connections to decision-makers. 

The High Level Dialogue on Cyberspace Cooperation built on the longstanding trusted relationship between EWI and Russian public, private and non-governmental institutions and represented a renewed commitment to initiate a higher level of discourse, deepen key relationships and build trust between the U.S. and Russia to avoid strategic miscalculation that could lead to cyber or military escalation.

Areas of possible further cooperation include crime (MLAT processes), terrorist use of the Internet and critical infrastructure protection.

Image: "IT Security Schloss vor Crypto-Hintergru" (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Christoph Scholz