Experts

  • Affiliation : Head, Center for International Security, Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO), Russian Academy of Sciences
  • Position : Member
  • Affiliation : Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters
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Arbatov, Dunn argue for updating of the concept of strategic stability

07.06.2018

MOSCOW, JUNE 7, 2018. PIR PRESS. — “The contemporary Russian and American leaders should reconfirm unequivocally and without any reservations the conviction of their predecessors of the 1970s and 1980s that nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought,” Dr. Alexei Arbatov, Head of the Center for International Security, Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO).

In December 2017, PIR Center, in cooperation with Centre russe d’etudes politiques, Geneve and James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Monterey (CNS), launched a Working Group on Strategic Stability and De-Escalation in U.S.-Russian relations. The first meeting of the Working Group was held in Geneva, Switzerland under the title “Pursuing Enhanced Strategic Stability in U.S.-Russian Relations: An Agenda for 2018-2020” and brought together 20 experts, including former and current high-level statesmen and diplomats focused on U.S.-Russian relations and arms control.

As part of the activities of the Working Group, Dr. Alexei Arbatov, Head of the Center for International Security, Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO), and Dr. Lewis Dunn, Independent Consultant and Member of the United Nations Secretary-General's Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters, wrote memos on the core principles of strategic stability and the necessity to revise and adapt the notion. The memos are available at the project’s web page.

In his memo, Dr. Dunn suggests a set of general principles for U.S-Russian strategic stability: mutual assurance that neither country can dramatically degrade the other country’s strategic capabilities (deterrence stability), a mutual commitment to preventing a future U.S.-Russian military crisis (crisis stability), a shared assessment of nuclear dangers, and a mutual readiness to take advantage of opportunities to renew habits of cooperation.

However, he believes that a number of technical issues and the current political environment serve as obstacles to the implementation of the principles, and notes that “the two countries are well along the road not only to strategic confrontation but to the breakdown of over five decades of cooperative management of their strategic relationship – not simply treaty-based arms control but all types of cooperative management with the goal of U.S.-Russian strategic stability.”

Dr. Arbatov names the factors that undermine strategic stability: an increased possibility of nuclear first use as a result of a standoff between the Russian Federation and the United States/NATO since 2014, the development of new operational concepts and weapon systems that blur the traditional lines between conventional and nuclear, offensive and defensive weapons, as well as between local, regional, and global conflicts. It is against this background that the current arms control and nonproliferation regimes are disintegrating. To address these challenges, as the expert believes, “the contemporary Russian and American leaders should reconfirm unequivocally and without any reservations the conviction of their predecessors of the 1970s and 1980s that nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”

Apart from this reaffirmation, Alexei Arbatov recommends expanding of the notion of strategic stability set forth in the 1990 joint statement to read as “a state of strategic relations that is removing incentives for a nuclear first strike and a first use of nuclear weapons,” giving priority to reducing counterforce capabilities, acknowledging of the relationship between strategic offensive and defensive arms, limiting or banning of space strike and anti-satellite systems as well as cyber warfare threatening command, control, communication and intelligence (C3I) systems.

A strong common point in both memos concerns the necessity of renewing cooperation on the NPT, let alone resolving of the issues related to the INF and New START treaties. “Putin’s Kremlin and Trump’s Washington need to go back to strategic basics and to ask themselves what would be at stake in the strategic train wreck both countries are approaching. How to do so? At best officially; otherwise the two presidents should create a greybeard panel of retired top-level civilian officials and military leaders to do so and report back to them,” concludes Lewis Dunn.

For questions regarding the activities of the Working Group on Strategic Stability and De-Escalation in U.S.-Russian relations, please contact “Russia and Nuclear Nonproliferation” Program Director Adlan Margoev by phone +7 (495) 987 19 15 or via e-mail margoev at pircenter.org

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