Washington briefing: Pentagon’s Eurasia manager appointed

by Emil Sanamyan

Published: Friday June 12, 2009

Celeste Wallander speaking to PBS in 2008. .

Washington - American University professor Celeste Wallander was appointed deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia policy, the Department of Defense reported on June 9.

The new appointee is an expert on Russia and has also written on U.S. policy toward Iran. In her analyses, Ms. Wallander has sought to counter the frequently alarmist descriptions of Russia's intentions, portraying Moscow leaders as primarily pragmatic and their policies as seeking to manage rather than confront America's dominance in world affairs.

Prior to her appointment, Ms. Wallander led the Program on New Approaches to Research and Security (PONARS) that focused on the former Soviet space, particularly the Caucasus, and was first housed at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and since 2007 at Georgetown University.

Discussing last year's Russian-Georgian war, Ms. Wallander told PBS NewsHour that "in traditional security terms, the Caucasus is in a geostrategically important part of the world."

"The Caucasus is just north of Iraq and Iran," she elaborated. "It's just west of Central Asia, which involves Afghanistan. So all these regions are areas in which the United States is militarily engaged because these are where the security challenges of the 21st century are."

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