Centre interdisciplinaire sur les enjeux stratégiques (CIENS)

A look back at the CIENS launch party… in photos! 

Over 80 people were present in the Salle historique of the ENS Bibliothèque des Lettres. 

High-profile panelists debated the nuclear dimension of the conflict in Ukraine.

The debate was preceded by speeches on the role played by CIENS in the French research landscape.

Frédéric Worms, Director of the ENS, spoke of the need to change the relationship between politics and expertise and research. “Every sudden crisis has underground causes that researchers take the time to identify. This is what CIENS is all about. Tonight’s round-table discussion is very important in view of the current crises. We need peace and justice, but also truth”.

Nicolas Roche, CIENS founder and French ambassador to Tehran, returned to the origins of the Center’s creation: “The idea for CIENS was born in 2014 in the context of Russia’s invasion of Crimea. It stems from an observation: the nuclear fact remains a central element in international strategic relations.” 

Frédéric Gloriant, CIENS Director since the start of the 2023 academic year, emphasized CIENS’ unique identity, “at the junction of two worlds: that of academic research and that of strategic decision-making”. He reiterated the primary objective of his team of researchers, which is “to conduct fundamental, independent research, in line with the criteria of academic excellence, that is relevant to decision-making”. 

The speeches gave way to a round-table discussion with our panelists. 

Kristin Ven Bruusgaard, Director of the Norwegian Intelligence School: 

“Nuclear deterrence is about manipulating risk, and we saw Russia actively doing this in Ukraine. The level of nuclear signaling shocked many, especially the public who hadn’t seen such signaling since the Cold War. The main purpose of Russian signaling in Ukraine was to deter direct intervention by the West. Current and potential nuclear powers are carefully observing developments in Ukraine and drawing conclusions about the usefulness of nuclear weapons.”

Corentin Brustlein, delegate for defense policy and forecasting at the DGRIS (French Ministry of the Armed Forces): “A Russian victory in Ukraine would be a victory for Russia’s aggressive sanctuarization strategy, namely territorial conquest in the shadow of the prospect of nuclear war.” 

Elsa Vidal, editor-in-chief of the Russian branch of Radio France Internationale: “As journalists, we are confronted with contradictory incarnations of Russian power. At the same time, we are witnessing Moscow’s determination to redefine new norms of international relations.”