Arms control. It is time for new ideas

26 June 2020

On June 23, the Alexander Gorchakov Public Diplomacy Fund hosted online discussion “Arms Control after the Pandemic: What Will Be the New Strategic Reality?”. The following experts took part in the discussion: senior research fellow at the Department for Military and Political Studies of the Institute of U.S. and Canadian Studies RAS, former Russia’s Chief Military Representative to NATO Valentin Kuznetsov; diplomat, senior research fellow at the Institute for International Studies of MGIMO University under MFA of Russia Dr. Victor Mizin; research fellow at the Center for International Security IMEMO RAS Dmitry Stefanovich; and PIR Center consultant, research fellow at the Center for Global Changes and International Organizations of the Diplomatic Academy under MFA of Russia Andrey Baklitsky.

The discussion was dedicated to the first round of the Russian-U.S. talks on arms control, which took place the day before, and signing of the Executive Order on Fundamentals of the National Policy of the Russian Federation on Arms Control by the President of Russia on June 2, 2020, which has become the first official document released on that topic.

Following conclusions of the Vienna event, Russia and the U.S. made a decision to establish a task force on strategic stability and based on results of the work performed by the task force the second round of talks will be held (July-August) between the two countries regarding elements of the future trilateral nuclear agreement (Russia-China-U.S.). It is worthy of note that China refuses to participate in similar agreements due to differences in levels of armament. The U.S. expressed readiness to develop a new treaty, which will include not only strategic, but other types of nuclear arms.

Not all experts agree on good perspectives of the meeting in Vienna.

Victor Mizin believes that the U.S. is losing its role of an absolute leader on the global arena while drowning in the bacchanalia of the protest movements; cross-Atlantic tensions between NATO members and the U.S. are growing under conditions of the “cold war” with China. The question of arms control has also become a hostage of the current state of affairs on the international arena The U.S. is proposing its own system of conditions and trying to engage China.

Valentin Kuznetsov believes that the talks in Vienna were consultations rather than negotiations and they expect only a discussion. He told about his participation in consultations and meetings with the U.S. colleagues and scientists on renewal of the New START Treaty, which is a major treaty for Russia. The U.S., while speaking about the primary importance of the framework of the future START-4 Treaty, is bluffing as the main goal is to engage the third participant – China. The probability of renewing the treaty is high as it is a “live treaty” and it involves Russian and U.S. armed forces and other special services interested in observing, inspecting and being present at the military bases. The ABM Treaty and the INF Treaty, according to Valentin Kuzntesov, were “dead-born”.

Read more in Russian here