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Q & A with visiting cyber scholar Pasha Sharikov

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Pasha Sharikov

Earlier this fall, a researcher from the Institute for USA and Canada Studies (ISKRAN), Pasha Sharikov, joined the CISSM research faculty as a visiting scholar. Sharikov, who will be in College Park through Summer 2020, discussed his research interests with CISSM.

1. What attracted you to the Visiting Scholar Program at CISSM?
CISSM has been a long-time partner of my home institution—the Institute for USA and Canada Studies (ISKRAN)—and I have enjoyed being part of our joint program since 2004. CISSM is part of an elite academic program for international security policy, so when I was approached with the visiting scholar opportunity, I took no time in making my decision.

 2. Tell us about your educational and professional background?
I have always been interested in technology policy. This interest grew into a dissertation on U.S. cybersecurity policy, which I defended in Moscow in 2009. Since then, I have been working with ISKRAN as a Research Fellow on these issues, as well as others related to domestic U.S. policies. I believe that much of the problems with the Russian-American relationship is rooted in misunderstandings about the key domestic political issues. I have also taught a number of courses on the American political system at Moscow State University. I publish articles and serve as an expert for a number of Russian and international research networks such as: the Russian International Affairs Council, Valdai Discussion Club, and Younger Generation Leadership Network for Euro Atlantic Security.

3. What are your current research interests?
My current research interest is how security dynamics in cyber space play a role in the current Russian-American standoff. The current situation is very different from the one we faced during the Cold War, and technological developments are a major reason why. We hear about it in all the recent conflicts: mutual accusations of interfering in domestic affairs (and elections in particular), and the collapse of the arms control regime. Cyber threats can be thought of as serious a threat as nuclear weapons were in the Cold War. The big debate that I want to contribute to is how cyber issues can be incorporated in a new arms control agenda.

4. What do you hope to achieve during your time here?
I believe that there is a widening gap between the Russian and American societies, which makes escalation of the current conflict more probable. There is a lack of understanding on both sides, and I believe that Track-2 diplomacy is urgently needed to overcome the crisis. I want to contribute to minimizing Americans’ misconceptions of Russians and vice versa.

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