Security Index Authors
Trenin, Dmitry V. image
Trenin, Dmitry V.
  • Affiliation : Director, Carnegie Moscow Center
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Issue: №4 (19)

This paper describes the current strategic and geopolitical environment and the main challenges it entails for the Russian-American strategic relations, including rapid technological revolution, the rise of nuclear multipolarity, and the complete lack of trust. The author believes that addressing the new threats that reject the 50-year-long era of arms control between Moscow and Washington requires achieving meaningful improvement in Russian-U.S. political relations to the level of serious dialogue on security issues between the two governments under the new conditions. Otherwise, deterrence will not only be the principal basis of strategic stability but its only remaining basis.


Key findings:

  • A credible strategy of deterrence needs to deal with a range of challenges: ballistic missile defenses, the enemy’s decapitating strikes from close range, use of artificial intelligence, cyberattacks.
  • Misperceptions between Russia and the USA exist not so much regarding their nuclear doctrines but with respect to their broader foreign policy strategies. Absolute lack of trust and high levels of mutual suspicion complicate strategic assessments.
  • Cold War-era nuclear bipolarity that coincided with a similar ideological and geopolitical division transformed into nuclear multipolarity. Strategic stability ceased being an issue for Moscow and Washington exclusively to tackle.
  • Strategic stability that used to be essentially about high-yield nuclear weapons and long-range missiles has now shifted towards strategic non-nuclear systems whose capability becomes equal to nuclear systems.
  • Formal arms control treaties are becoming a thing of the past. Communication channels between the military and security authorities by analogy with the deconfliction mechanism that has been in place in Syria since 2015, confidence building, such as the resurrection of nuclear risk reduction centers, would help clarify the situation, prevent escalation, and avoid misperception or misunderstanding.
  • Biden Administration, while supporting New START extension and arms control in general, is going to take a hard line toward the Kremlin.



Security Index Occasional Paper Series presents reports, analytical articles, comments and interviews that reflect the positions of Russian and foreign experts on the current challenges of global security and Russian policy in this sphere. The newsletter aims at providing clear analysis of global security problems and suggesting practical solutions. Security Index Occasional Paper Series continues the Security Index journal published by PIR Center in 1994 – 2016. Authors and editors will be glad to receive comments, questions and suggestions on our e-mail address [email protected]