U.S.-Russian Relations: The Price of Cold War

U.S.-Russian Relations: The Price of Cold War

Professor Robert Legvold
The Harriman Institute, Columbia University

The following article by Professor Robert Legvold (Columbia University) was recently published on the Russian International Affairs Council website on 31 May 2018. In it, he discusses the costs incurred by the current state of Russian-US relations, in particular in the field of nuclear arms control.

Short Version:

U.S.-Russian relations are not only in bad shape—very bad shape—but destructively and dangerously so. As each side sinks into deeper and wider alarm over the threat the other is believed to pose, something larger is being missed. The ignored price they and the rest of the world will eventually pay for their escalating Cold War is immense. At the top of the list, unnoticed, a nuclear world is slowly slipping out of control. No longer two, but five countries—China, India, Pakistan, Russia, and the United States—now hold the key to nuclear war or peace. Each is bent on creating or modernizing a triad of nuclear forces in the air, on land, and at sea; each is crossing technological frontiers weakening the firebreak between conventional and nuclear war; each, in embracing ballistic missile defense, is adding to a cascade of offense-defense races; each is tilting toward doctrines favoring the limited use of nuclear weapons; and each is in a fraught relationship with one or in some cases two other nuclear powers.

Without U.S-Russian leadership, the two countries with 92 percent of the weapons, and eventually Chinese cooperation, the chance of heading off nuclear disaster rapidly shrinks. Instead, consumed by their new Cold War, Russia and the United States are dismantling the last pieces of the arms control framework they laboriously negotiated over a half-century.

Read the full article here.