Arbatov Alexey
The Ukrainian crisis and strategic stability
Publication Type:


ISSN 1026-9487

DOI 10.17976/jpps/2022.04.03

The dramatic events in Ukraine, which unfolded from the end of February 2022, marked the end of an historical period of more than half a century. Relations between the USSR/Russia and the West have come full circle and returned to the Cold War, once again bringing the powers closer to the fateful line almost crossed in the days of the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962. First of all, presently the reasons for contemplating the use of Russian nuclear forces might allegedly include not only an attack on Russia and its allies using nuclear or conventional weapons, but also NATO’s direct involvement in local military operations on the territory of Ukraine, the provision of assistance to it with arms supplies, economic sanctions and even aggressive statements against Russia. In the West, this topic is widely discussed, including at the governmental level, despite Moscow’s official statements that it does not have any nuclear plans. Secondly, the impact of the Ukrainian tragedy on strategic stability is that it directly affected the negotiations between Russia and the United States on strategic weapons, which were once again “frozen” after a successful debut in July 2021 in Geneva. Third, the current conflict has had a detrimental effect on the overall climate of political relations between states in Europe and beyond, which has always been an important foundation for arms control negotiations. If the worst-case scenario is avoided, then sooner or later the Ukrainian problem will be resolved peacefully, no matter how difficult and distant such an outcome may seem now. After that, or even in the process of moving towards peace, it is possible to resume the dialogue between Russia and the United States on arms control. This has been the case in the past, starting with the easing of tensions after the Cuban Missile Crisis and the signing of the 1963 Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. After that, while resolving periodic crises, the responsible powers concluded dozens of treaties on nuclear weapons and other lethal means, which made it possible by the end of the 1980’s to end the Cold War, curtail the arms race and rid the world of the specter of a nuclear Armageddon for the ensuing thirty years.


Keywords: Russia | the USA | Ukraine | special military operation | strategic stability | arms control |

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