NATO And The Future Of Arms Control And Strategic Stability In Europe

April 28, 2023

The following is an excerpt from the Hoover Institute.

I am hearing that the conference has been very meaty and productive, and I was so happy to read the speeches by SG Jens Stoltenberg and Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman: they struck just the right note during this fraught period, I thought.

Rose Gottemoeller at a podium with US flag behind

Rose Gottemoeller

“Fraught period” is a mild expression for what we are going through with Russia, however. Not only has Russia launched a bloody, egregious and illegal invasion of Ukraine, but Russia itself is caught in a spiral of political repression and violence. Aleksei Navalny’s lawyer reported that he has been beat up in prison after a suspected poisoning. Eminent filmmaker and writer Vladimir Kara-Murza has been sentenced to 25 years in prison, his political activism amounting to “treason” in the bizarre Russian legal system. And of course, we are very worried about Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who was seized and accused of espionage three weeks ago. The last time an American reporter was so detained was during the Soviet era, in the depths of the Cold War.

So we are seeing a country deep in the grip of repression, violence and fear. Unfortunately for all of us, including the Russians, nuclear weapons are a factor here. As Russian writer Sergei Lebedev said in an interview in the Financial Times last weekend, “We were asleep at the wheel when our president turned from a rational, practical autocrat into a maniac with a nuclear bomb.”

What to do in this unprecedented circumstance, so dangerous, so existential? Nothing is helped by the fact that Russia has shut down the main instrument of nuclear stability and predictability between us, the New START Treaty. It is so puzzling why Russia would want to lose visibility into the strategic nuclear force posture of the United States, just as the U.S. is launching into its major nuclear triad modernization. But the Kremlin is grasping at anything to lever the United States away from its support for Ukraine. It will not work, and Washington has made that clear.

So what now? As the two largest nuclear powers, we together have shouldered the responsibility of preventing nuclear Armageddon since the Cuban Missile Crisis, taking the lead together in negotiating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and many other treaties and agreements. Now, Russia is behaving not as a responsible nuclear state, but as a very large pariah state with nuclear weapons.

Continue reading at the Hoover Institute.

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