The current tensions in the relationship between NATO and Russia are at their highest point since the end of the Cold War. The causes and symptoms of these tensions are multifaceted. There is an urgent need for the United States and Russia to pull their relationship back from the brink. An early agenda for bilateral engagement should focus on options to reduce the risks of unintended conflict, lessen incentives for escalation, including to the possible use of nuclear weapons, reinforce existing arms control mechanisms, and eliminate obstacles to new risk-reduction initiatives. In addition, the United States should be prepared to right-size U.S. nuclear forces to the lowest level necessary to meet deterrence requirements, which could put pressure on Russia to follow suit. This jointly elaborated Working Paper, written by Kingston Reif and Victor Mizin (with assistance of Maggie Tennis), assesses the state of the current NATO-Russia relationship, examines the bilateral arms control relationship and prospects for future progress, proposes options to reduce the risks of conflict between NATO and Russia, and strengthen strategic stability, and lastly makes the case for unilaterally adjusting the size of the U.S. nuclear arsenal and responds to arguments against such an adjustment.
About the Authors
Kingston Reif is the Director for Disarmament and Threat Reduction Policy at the Arms Control Association, where his work focuses on nuclear disarmament, preventing nuclear terrorism, missile defense, and the defense budget. He is also an expert on the legislative process and closely monitors Congressional action on these issues.
Victor Mizin is Leading Researcher at the Center for Post-Soviet Studies of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO-University) and Leading Researcher at the Primakov Institute of World Economy and International Relations of the Russian Academy of Sciences. He participated as an adviser in arms control negotiations, including START I and START II, the INF Treaty, the Conference on Disarmament, and the UN Disarmament Commission.