Reducing Tension in Russia–NATO Relations

December 9, 2020

The present state of affairs between NATO and Russia is unnecessarily dangerous. The reality remains that an unintended crisis, conflict, or mistake could lead to a rapid military escalation and a spasmodic use of nuclear weapons at almost any time.

In the newest publication from Global Zero’s Nuclear Crisis Group, Sarah Bidgood joined five other experts to provide a broad array of options to improve stability and reduce the risks of conflict and escalation in Europe. In the NATO–Russia Crisis Brief, Bidgood discusses the long list of difficulties now plaguing Russia–NATO relations, and articulates two proposals to “offer a starting point that aligns with NATO’s dual-track approach to engaging with Russia today.”

First, she calls for the NATO–Russia Council to conduct a parallel threat and risk assessment exercise to identify likely scenarios leading to conflict. Second, she suggests that the NRC establish “a stand-alone task force of former officials and non-governmental experts from Russia and NATO countries to generate recommendations based on the outcomes” of that parallel exercise.

While acknowledging that no “single proposal or initiative [can] eliminate the potential for conflict in a tense and complicated Russia–NATO relationship,” Bidgood argues that these proposed initiatives “could offer important insights into the roots of the current Russia–NATO security dilemma and strategies to manage its impacts safely.”

Download the report

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