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On June 14, 2017, PIR Center, Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Foreign Ministry and Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at the Georgetown University held in Moscow an International Seminar “Disruptive Technologies, Strategic Vulnerability, and...

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  • Affiliation : Associate Professor, Department of World Politics, Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO University) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation
  • Affiliation : Professor, Major General (retired), Chief Research Associate, Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO)
  • Position : Consultant
  • Affiliation : PIR Center
  • Position : School of World politics, M.V.Lomonosov Moscow State University
  • Affiliation : School of World politics, M.V.Lomonosov Moscow State University
  • Affiliation : Acad., Russian Academy of Sciences, Head, Center for International Security, Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO)
  • Position : Consultant
  • Affiliation : PIR Center
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PIR Center holds international seminar “Disruptive Technologies, Strategic Vulnerability, and the Future of Deterrence.”

26.06.2017

MOSCOW. JUNE 26, 2017. PIR PRESS – “Today, technological trends appear to validate the advocates of counterforce: remote sensing, conventional strike capabilities, anti-submarine warfare and cyberattack techniques will continue to improve and increasingly threaten strategic forces whether or not the United States seeks to maximize its counterforce capabilities. In this new era of counterforce, technological arms racing seems inevitable, so exercising restraint may limit options without yielding much benefit,” – Keir Lieber, Associate Professor at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and Daryl Press, Associate Professor in the Department of Government at Dartmouth College.

On June 14, 2017, PIR Center, Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Foreign Ministry and Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at the Georgetown University held in Moscow an International Seminar “Disruptive Technologies, Strategic Vulnerability, and the Future of Deterrence”. More than 50 participants from Russia, Finland, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Romania, South Korea, Switzerland, and the United States took part in the seminar.  Among the participants were representatives from the Institute for the U.S. and Canadian Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences, International Committee of Red Cross, Moscow State Institute of International Relations, Moscow State University, National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations at the Russian Academy of Sciences, Russian International Affairs Council, Russian Ministry of Defense, and the Center for Strategic Research, Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs, Skolkovo Foundation, St. Petersburg State University, Sukhoi Aviation Holding Company. Albert Zulkharneev, Director of PIR Center, and Oleg Ivanov, Vice Rector of the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Foreign Ministry, addressed the seminar with opening remarks.

The first session The New Era of Counterforce was moderated by Ivan Safranchuk, Associate Professor at MGIMO University of the Russian Foreign Ministry. Presenters and commentators focused on the role that disruptive technologies play in influencing strategy, the extent to which increased accuracy and transparency with nuclear arsenals have within the international arena, the delicate balance between modernization and an arms race, as well as the possibility of nuclear disarmament.

Keir Lieber, Associate Professor at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service and the Department of Government at Georgetown University, and Daryl Press, Associate Professor in the Department of Government at Dartmouth College, expanded on the destabilizing factors that can result from nuclear arms reduction, the possibility for a counterproductive arms race, and the role that technological advances have in increasing the ability to launch a counterforce strike.

“Today, technological trends appear to validate the advocates of counterforce: remote sensing, conventional strike capabilities, anti-submarine warfare, and cyberattack techniques will continue to improve and increasingly threaten strategic forces whether or not the United States seeks to maximize its counterforce capabilities. In this new era of counterforce, technological arms racing seems inevitable, so exercising restraint may limit options without yielding much benefit,” said Keir Lieber and Daryl Press.

Vladimir Dvorkin, Chief Researcher at the Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations at the Russian Academy of Sciences and Alexey Arbatov, Head of the Center for International Security at Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations at the Russian Academy of Sciences, provided their critical analysis on this strategic approach.

“I would like to say that my conclusion, is rather contradictory to the outcomes of our esteemed American colleagues. And it is the following, the technical development continues with the same pace, it is hard to predict it. We are all doing hypotheticals here, but it does continue and we have to keep an eye on it. Naturally, there could be destabilizing factors, I talked about them, but on the whole this technical development is not on the verge of revolutionary changes. But, those disturbing factors going for nuclear deterrence and strategic stability, that I talked about, have indeed put us on the verge of revolutionary changes. Therefore, strategic stability and nuclear deterrence require continued negotiations, continued nuclear cuts,” said Alexey Arbatov. 

The second session, Clandestine Capabilities and Deterrence, brought forth a lively discussion on the effects that clandestine military capabilities have on deterrence, the choice of states to signal these capabilities, the role of deception in signaling, and the evolution of Cold War strategic anti-submarine warfare and clandestine capabilities. This session was moderated by Andrey Baklitskiy, Director of the “Russia and Nuclear Nonproliferation” program at the PIR Center and Research fellow at the Center for Global Trends and International Organizations at the Diplomatic Academy of Russian Foreign Ministry.

Brendan Green, Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Cincinnati provided a compelling theoretical presentation on a state’s clandestine capabilities and the role that strategic management of information plays in moderating military and political utility. Furthermore, he introduced anti-submarine warfare tactics as an example of clandestine capabilities and the degree to which they affected the military and/or political utility of the United States.

“During the first half of the Cold War, the United States developed a marked and asymmetric advantage over the Soviet Union in the undersea balance, including the capability to find and destroy Moscow’s sea-based nuclear force. However, this dominance eroded after the Soviet Navy changed its operating pattern for SSBNs. The extent of American anti-submarine warfare (ASW) advantages was not initially well understood outside of select U.S. military and intelligence circles. American leaders chose to conceal their clandestine ASW capabilities for military effect, rather than attempt to exploit them politically,” said Brendan Green.

Pavel Zolotarev, Deputy Director at the Institute for U.S. and Canadian Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences, and Evgeny Buzhinskiy, Chairman of the Executive Board of the PIR Center, expanded the conversation by providing alternative insight to the topic.

"Speaking of the examples that Mr. Green mentioned: Israel, Enigma, and others, those are not examples of clandestine capabilities to my mind. Those are examples of successful intelligence operations, based on technical or human intelligence. I would also like to add that some of the clandestine capabilities that Dr. Green mentioned were well known in the Soviet Union and even taught at the military academies. Furthermore, by design of the Soviet system a lot of its capabilities were classified and hence clandestine, much more than in the United States,” said Evgeny Buzhinskiy. 

The article “The New Era of Counterforce: Technological Change and the Future of Nuclear Deterrence” by Keir Lieber and Daryl Press was published in the International Security Spring 2017. The article on the role of clandestine capabilities in world politics by Brendan Green and Austin Long will be published shortly.        

For questions related to the seminar, you can contact Andrey Baklitskiy, Director of the "Russia and Nuclear Nonproliferation Program" of PIR Center at +7 (499) 940 09 83 or send an e-mail to baklitsky@pircenter.org.

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