Arbatov Alexey
Political and Military Aspects of the United States` Relations with Russia.
Publication Type:
Rubric:

The talk of a potential armed stand-off between the United States and Russia in the aftermath of the war in South Ossetia showed that Russian-US relations had plunged to their lowest point since the early 1980s. In contrast to America, where no mainstream expert has been serious about such possibility, Russian well-connected pundits have been less optimistic. Policymakers have in any case shown restraint realizing that even if nuclear strikes are beyond imagination, the use of conventional weapons by Russia and the US against each other could have devastating effects.
However, the current psychological climate remains conducive to new bouts of escalation. Moscow is still keen to establish itself as a more independent player while Washington needs a compensation for the Bush administration policy failures. Both sides must therefore agree on consultation procedures before a new conflict breaks out elsewhere around Russia.
Moscow and Washington must spearhead multilateral non-proliferation efforts by their own example. While accomplishing a “nuclear zero” is unrealistic, sharp cuts in the Russian and American deterrent arsenals could rally other states around the goals of non-proliferation and build up pressure on potential regime violators. The danger of nuclear terrorism must not be written off by major nuclear powers as technological capabilities available to non-state groups may increase dramatically in the coming years. Proliferation risks are further aggravated by the double standards that each nuclear power is inclined to apply to its nuclear weapons seeking allies.


Keywords: Russian-US relations | nuclear powers |

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