Experts

  • Affiliation : United States Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation
  • Position : Head of Foreign Policy Department
  • Affiliation : Kommersant Publishing House
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Elena Chernenko and Thomas Countryman: Trump and Putin should discuss cybersecurity and strategic stability

15.07.2018

MOSCOW, JULY 15, PIR PRESS. – “А third party, be it a country or a non-state actor, can attack critical infrastructure of the USA or Russia, making it look as if the aggressor was the other one, thus provoking war between them. In cyber space this is possible. Both the Russian and the US cyber doctrines allow them to react to major cyberattacks with all military means. Therefore, an effective direct communication and de-escalation channels between the two countries are a priority,” – Dr. Elena Chernenko, PIR Center Executive Board Member and Deputy Head of the Kommersant Newspaper Foreign Policy Department.

In anticipation for the July 16 summit of Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, Dr. Elena Chernenko, PIR Center Executive Board Member and Deputy-head of the Kommersant Newspaper Foreign Policy Department, and Mr. Thomas Countryman, Chair of the Arms Control Association Board of Directors, share the expectations from the upcoming summit in respect to the US-Russia dialogue on cybersecurity. Their memos are published at PIR Center’s webpage as part of the activities of a Working Group on Strategic Stability and De-Escalation in US-Russian Relations that PIR Center established in cooperation with Centre russe d’etudes politiques (Geneva, Switzerland) and James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Monterey (CNS).

In their memos, the experts express two different point of views on US-Russia dialogue on arms control and cyber security. Dr. Chernenko argues for the US-Russia cooperation on the basis of bilateral mechanisms, for the potential security risks of no communication between two major nuclear powers are too high to be neglected. She provides two specific reasonswhy Russia and the US must cooperate in cyber. Namely, the lackof effective direct communication and de-escalation channels between Russia and the US places them under the risk of direct armed conflict provoked by a third party. Moreover, she states that the US-Russia dialogue in cyber is vital to produce stable international norms of behavior of states in cyber space.

Dr. Chernenko outlines a plan of action, in which she stresses the necessity of cooperation on the basis of the US-Russian bilateral working group on cyber and the UN Group of Governmental Experts. “The new US-Russian working group on cyber does not have to operate based on a strict mandate, but officials must start discussing difficult issues in order to see whether any trust can be restored,” – argues Dr. Chernenko.

In the meantime, Mr. Countryman denies the idea of cooperation between the countries until Russia ceases its cyber inference in the US domestic affairs. To resume a dialogue, he argues, Russia should first cease its cyber interference into the domestic affairs of the Western countries. He does not place any hopes on bilateral mechanisms of the US-Russia cooperation, as the leaders should not ignore the existing contradictions in cyber, but rather address them.

Nevertheless, both experts agree on the cruciality of further cooperation between Russia and the US in arms control and strategic stability, as well as pay special attention to the cyber issues in dialogue between the nations. “It is important that, at their Helsinki summit, Presidents Trump and Putin discuss measures to ensure that any confrontation – cyber or conventional – does not escalate to the nuclear level,” states Mr. Countryman.

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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