Ahead of bilateral talks in Geneva, leading arms control experts weigh in on the means and ends of strategic stability. These excerpts include insights from Alexey Arbatov, Nadezhda Arbatova, Rose Gottemoeller, Michael Krepon and Kevin Ryan.
'A frenemy alliance with the United States to counter the material danger posed by China is highly unlikely as long as Putin's regime continues,' writes Mark Haas; worst-case scenarios have been avoided in Ukraine not because Russia has been coerced into backing down but because of the unspoken moderation of Western policy, writes Kimmage; and more in this week's analytical digest.
Moscow and Washington have already held multiple rounds of talks on cyber since the beginning of Biden’s presidency; U.S. intelligence has nicknamed the new Russian jet “Screamer,” and more in this week’s Russian analytical digest.
Should the U.S and Russia agree on a set of cyber rules and is doing so even possible? The answer according to a recent U.S.-Russian exploratory paper we published, is yes, but not yet. The answer according to Elena Chernenko, head of Russian daily Kommersant’s international news desk, and Joe Nye, Professor Emeritus at Harvard University, as provided during a July 20 event at The Center for the National Interest was also affirmative, with both speakers pointing to U.S.-Soviet Incidents at Sea Agreement of 1972 as a model for a bilateral cyber deal.
In their remarks at the event Chernenko and Nye both cautioned against aiming for anything as grand as a cyber treaty. Nye noted that Russia has been proposing such a treaty for the past 20 years at the United Nations, but said that in his view, this is simply unrealistic because it would be unverifiable. He also noted that a U.S.-Russian cyber agreement, even if reached, could be derailed by adverse developments in other spheres of the bilateral relationship. He went on to suggest that while it is possible that the sides would be able to reach an agreement in the cyber domain that would remain effective for a little while, the risk is it could then become increasingly ignored, particularly if bilateral relations continue to deteriorate, as was the case with the 1972 agreement. Chernenko concurred with Nye’s proposition that Moscow and Washington should aim for an agreement rather than a treaty that would need to be ratified.
Nye added that with or without an agreement, the United States should continue to focus on deterrence with respect to Russia and to other state and non-state actors. He invoked a noisy party analogy when describing how that deterrence would work.
Russia's return to the Middle East must be assessed from the perspective of regional actors, namely how they seek to use competition between Moscow and Washington for their own strategic benefit, our latest exclusive argues.
As the security situation in Afghanistan continues to deteriorate, regional powers must coordinate to counter the threat, says Trenin; Russia’s arsenal upgrade will be an uphill climb due to its complexity; and more in this week’s Russia analytical digest.
A tip from U.S. diplomats propelled Russian nuclear facilities to launch unscheduled audits; Moscow and Washington find something they can see eye-to-eye on; and more in this week's Russian news digest.
Vladimir Putin has just signed off on Russia’s new National Security Strategy. As with any such strategic document, it is useful to compare it to its predecessor, if only to identify key changes in the Kremlin’s vision of what constitutes Russia’s national security and how to attain it. My comparison between the 2021 document and its 2015 predecessor reveals that the Kremlin has strengthened its determination to deter the West and engage the East (Asia), which it sees, respectively, as declining and rising, while starting to pay more attention to domestic components of national security, such as human capital.
When the previous strategy was adopted in 2015, many analysts suspected that relations between the West and Russia had already hit rock bottom following the intervention in Ukraine that the Kremlin launched in 2014 with some hoping for an eventual rebound, if only a partial one. The new document shows that that bottom was false, with multiple layers underneath ripe for the further deterioration of Russia’s relations with the United States and its allies, even as Moscow’s partnership with Asia’s leading powers remained strong (India) or strengthened further (China).
While the 2015 strategy contained clauses for cooperation with the United States and the European Union, with multiple goals to be pursued jointly, and even for the development of relations with NATO, the 2021 version contains no such language when describing Russia’s interaction with what the Kremlin sees as a declining West. Moreover, the new document does not mention the European Union at all, indicating that in the Russian leadership’s view, the European Union no longer matters—at least in matters of national security (and never mind that it remains Russia’s largest trading partner).
While lessons learned from regional military conflicts accounted for our most popular reads in January through June 2021, topics ranging from climate change to cybersecurity also dominated top positions in our ranking. Read on for a look at Russia Matters' top 10 most popular stories, based on reader analytics captured during the first half of this year.
1. A Look at the Military Lessons of the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict: In this analysis, director of the Russia Studies Program at CNA examines the implications of the war over Nagorno-Karabakh which continue to reverberate well outside the region given its potential significance for regional and great powers alike, while further spurring debates on the character of modern warfare.
2. Who ‘Defeated’ ISIS? An Analysis of US and Russian Contributions: There can be little doubt that the United States and its allies played a much bigger role that Russia did in subduing ISIS, the author, a lecturer in security and development at the Department of War Studies, King’s College London, asserts in this analysis; but ISIS has plenty of life in it yet and any alleged victory is fragile.
3. Five Years After Russia Declared Victory in Syria: What Has Been Won? In this cost-benefit assessment, the author—a graduate student at Harvard University and a student associate at RM—questions whether Russia's intervention in Syria has paid off, or whether then-U.S. President Barack Obama’s 2015 prediction that the operation would end in a “quagmire” for Russia has come true.