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US-Russian Working Group on Strategic Stability meets in Geneva

15.02.2018

GENEVA, FEBRUARY 15, 2018. PIR PRESS. — “The current state of US-Russian relations is depressive and stimulating. Depressing because there’s so little optimism in the expert community, and there’s so much concern that we are heading in the direction that neither of us really seems to want but neither of us can avoid. And that direction seems to be bringing us to the potential for conflict... That generates the commitment, which was the positive side of the discussion. We had a very pragmatic discussion. There was relatively little posturing, and there was a lot of serious direct constructive exploration of our differences,”Dr. Brad Roberts, Director of Center for Global Security Research, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

First meeting of the US-Russian Working Group on Strategic Stability and De-Escalation took place in Geneva, Switzerland. The event entitled “Pursuing Enhanced Strategic Stability in U.S.-Russian Relations: An Agenda for 2018-2020” was organized by Centre russe d’etudes politiques, Geneve in partnership with PIR Center, Moscow, and James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Monterey (CNS). Moderated by Co-Chairs of the Working Group Dr. Vladimir Orlov, Founder and Special Advisor to PIR Center, and Prof. William Potter, Director of CNS, the meeting brought together 20 experts, including former and current high-level statesmen and diplomats, focused on US-Russian relations and arms control.

Dr. Alexei Arbatov, Head of the Center for International Security, Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations; PIR Center Advisory Board Member, Gen. Evgeny Buzhinsky, Chairman of the PIR Center Executive Board, Hon. Thomas Countryman, Chair of the Arms Control Association Board of Directors, Alexander Deineko, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations Office and other International Organizations in Geneva, Hon. Robert Einhorn, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, Mr. Vladimir Leontiev, Deputy Director of the Department for Nonproliferation and Arms Control, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Gen. Vyacheslav Trubnikov, the Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations Board Member and the PIR Center Executive Board Member are among the members of the Working Group.

The agenda of the meeting included four topics: consensus approach to strategic stability, de-escalation and crisis management in US-Russian relations, influence of modernization of nuclear weapons on strategic stability, and the future of bilateral arms control. Panelists prepared policy memos and engaged in an extensive exchange of opinions and ideas. The memos will be made available and disseminated separately in PIR Press newsletter.

The experts agreed that to preserve the achievements of arms control between the United States and Russia, the governments of the two countries have to find a way to resolve all INF-related problems and lay the ground for extending the New START Treaty for another five-year term. After taking these urgent steps, it is necessary to identify the parameters of a new foundation of arms control and strategic stability. Director of Center for Global Security Research, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Dr. Brad Roberts named two features of such strategic stability framework: “multipolarity and multidimensionality”, the former meaning that US-Russian strategic relationship is just part of many other strategic relationships, and the latter being a reference to the fact that there are many factors that influence strategic stability – nuclear weapons are only one of them.

According to Dr. Roberts, “the current state of US-Russian relations is depressive and stimulating. Depressing because there’s so little optimism in this community, and there’s so much concern that we are heading in the direction that neither of us really seems to want but neither of us can avoid. And that direction seems to be bringing us to the potential for conflict... That generates the commitment, which was the positive side of the discussion. We had a very pragmatic discussion. There was relatively little posturing, and there was a lot of serious direct constructive exploration of our differences.”

Independent Consultant Mr. Andrew Weber also highlighted the importance of maintaining the dialogue between US and Russian experts: “The meeting was extremely useful. Most importantly because of the incredible wealth of experience of people who gathered in one room: people who were involved in negotiating INF Treaty, START-I Treaty. To use that knowledge in the current very dangerous situation that we find ourselves in, is very useful. At a time when our official government-to-government communications are strained, having these Track 2 / Track 1.5 discussions among experts and former senior leaders is very valued because that is how new ideas get generated.”

After generating such ideas, the participants of the working group attended a reception organized on behalf of the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva H.E. Alexey Borodavkin, PIR Center, and CREP and enjoyed informal communication.

The Executive Secretary of the Working Group, PIR Center’s “Russia and Nuclear Nonproliferation” Program Director Mr. Adlan Margoev shared his account of the event in a blog entry for Nasha Gazeta, a Swiss newspaper in Russian, entitled “Strategic Instability: End of the Old Rules?

For questions regarding the activities of the US-Russian Working Group on Strategic Stability and De-escalation, please contact “Russia and Nuclear Nonproliferation” Program Director Adlan Margoev by phone +7 (495) 987 19 15 or via e-mail margoev at pircenter.org.


   

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