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Biden Hires a Realist on Defense

February 22, 2022

This 2005 interview with RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty and Celeste Wallander, President Biden’s nominee to serve as assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, provides information about the Russian gas pipeline that gives leverage to Putin over NATO members. And this 2022 report in Defense News reveals that Wallander has learned something in the intervening seventeen years.

Wallander worked on Barack Obama’s campaign for President and served in the Obama  Administration as  special assistant to the president and senior director for Russia and Eurasia on the National Security Council.

In 2022 she commented negatively on the 2014 events that led to the Russian occupation of the Crimea and limited support provided Ukraine by the Obama Administration.

Wallander was confirmed on February 16. It remains to be seen if Wallander can strengthen President Biden’s weak policies on Putin’s imminent takeover of Ukraine.


CELESTE WALLANDER directs the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and is a CSIS senior fellow. Before joining CSIS, she was senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, D.C., and associate professor of government at Harvard University. She is the founder and executive director of the Program on New Approaches to Russian Security. Her recent projects include work on U.S.-Russian security cooperation, the history of Russia and globalization, HIV/AIDS in Russia, and the 2004 Ukrainian presidential election. Among her books are “Swords And Sustenance: The Economics Of Security In Belarus And Ukraine” and “Mortal Friends, Best Enemies: German-Russian Cooperation After The Cold War.” She is currently writing “Global Russia: Economics, Politics, And Security.”

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