A serious military confrontation between Russia and a NATO member state topped the list of international concerns for 2017 compiled by US experts.



The Council on Foreign Relations’ (CFR) released its annual Preventive Priorities Survey Tuesday to identify the seven top potential flashpoints for the United States in the coming year. Foreign policy experts were asked to rank conflicts on the basis of likelihood and potential impact on US national interests.


A “deliberate or unintended military confrontation between Russia and NATO members, stemming from assertive Russian behavior in Eastern Europe” topped the list, followed by “a severe crisis in North Korea caused by nuclear or intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) weapons testing, a military provocation, or internal political instability.”


Increased violence and instability in Afghanistan is ranked third, followed by the intensification of violence between Turkey and Kurdish armed groups, the escalation of the crisis in Syria, a highly disruptive cyberattack on US critical infrastructure and a mass casualty terrorist attack in the US or one of its close allies.


“With a new presidential administration assuming office, it is important to help policymakers anticipate and avert potential crises that could arise and threaten US interests,” CPA director Paul B. Stares said.


“Our annual survey aims to highlight the most likely sources of instability and conflict around the world so that the government can prioritize its efforts appropriately,” he said.