The Atlantic Council is parting ways with a Charles Koch-funded foreign policy strategy initiative after staff at the Washington think tank raised concerns about the arrangement and the initiative’s position on U.S. policy toward Russia.
Koch, who is a major funder of conservative, libertarian and philanthropic initiatives, provided the Council with a $4.5 million grant in 2020. The money was designed to set up the New American Engagement Initiative, a national security effort that planned to use the funds to support scholars and their efforts, which was housed under the Council’s Scowcroft Center for Security and Strategy.
In March 2021, the initiative co-director, Mathew Burrows, and Emma Ashford, a senior fellow with the effort, penned an article that argued the U.S. should not center its approach to Russia around human rights. Nearly two dozen Atlantic Council staffers, including several former ambassadors, responded in a letter disassociating themselves with the article. At the time, some Atlantic Council experts suggested to POLITICO that Ashford and initiative co-director Chris Preble —