U.S.-Russian Arms Control Priorities

Jul 21, 2009

As the first phase of its new program on U.S. Global Engagement, the Carnegie Council examines the critical and evolving U.S.-Russia relationship. To aid in this exploration, the Council entered into a joint project with the Moscow-based Institute for United States and Canada Studies [ISKRAN], the most established and prestigious of Russia's think tanks devoted to bilateral relations.

The cooperative project comprised a series of papers on three critical topics, in each case with submissions from both Russian and American experts. The topics are: arms control, with a particular focus on the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, with related missile defense questions; Afghanistan and the future of the NATO alliance; and security, military, and energy issues in the Arctic region.

We now present the first set of papers, those on arms control. The papers speak for themselves, but three general observations may be made: First, arms control and treaties governing both offensive and defensive military capabilities remain absolutely central to U.S.-Russia relations; second, much as the Obama administration may wish to do so, it is not realistic to expect that Russia will agree to "decouple" discussion of the different components of the arms control agenda; and third, the paper writers in general exhibit a healthy skepticism to temper long-range expectations following the recent meetings of the two presidents in Moscow—while offering suggestions for a way ahead to benefit both the United States and Russia.

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