Policy Memos

Ending Bilateral U.S.-Russian Strategic Arms Control

Policy Memo:


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For more than 40 years, negotiators from Moscow and Washington have engaged in countless meetings about strategic arms control. Several bilateral agreements resulted from these talks during the Cold War, and several more have been achieved in the post-Cold War era, most recently in April 2010. Even though the net value of all of these agreements is open to doubt, there was at least some rationale for holding strategic arms control negotiations during the Cold War. That rationale no longer makes sense in the post-Cold War era, yet strategic arms control has remained a dominant part of U.S.-Russian relations. The continuation of bilateral strategic arms control has fostered the impression that the intense hostility of the Cold War era, pitting the Soviet Union against the United States, still characterizes U.S.-Russian relations. Far from helping bilateral ties, U.S.-Russian strategic arms control negotiations have inadvertently perpetuated a degree of tension and mistrust between the two countries over the past twenty years. [...]

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About the author

Director, Cold War Studies Program, and Senior Fellow, Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies
Harvard University