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New arms race and the threat of nuclear war

14.01.2022
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https://www.bbc.com/russian/news-59964661

Michael Kofman, Director of the Russian Program at the US Center for Naval Analysis

The meetings in Geneva, Brussels and Vienna were more of a performative act. Clearly, the negotiations have stalled.

The main question is whether Russia is ready to separate issues of security guarantees [such as the rejection of NATO expansion] and issues of strategic stability, such as arms control and military measures. Both Ryabkov and Glushko gave an unambiguously negative answer. They insist on discussing the draft agreements published by the Russian Foreign Ministry in December, which include all these issues at once.

This is an ultimatum, because they mention some vague military-technical measures that they are ready to resort to. And, in fact, they are holding Ukraine hostage.

However, the opinions widespread in the Western media about Putin's "unpredictability" are not correct. The Kremlin has for decades expressed dissatisfaction with the expansion of NATO and the deployment of American weapons in Central and Eastern Europe.

And when, already in 2021, Joe Biden tried to conduct a dialogue with Putin, all these claims were voiced in response. The Biden administration has suggested that Moscow should have a strategic security dialogue around technical issues like arms control rather than fundamental differences, but Russia has made it clear exactly what it wants.

Dmitry Suslov, Deputy Director of the Center for Comprehensive European and International Studies

The results of the negotiations in Geneva and Brussels have already shown significant progress compared to the situation that was a few months ago.

For several years, NATO has refused to discuss Russia's initiatives on the possible creation of a new regime for the deployment of weapons in Europe, deconfliction initiatives.

However, this is not enough for Russia today. But what Moscow is insisting on today - the new principles of European security - is no longer ready to be discussed by the US and NATO.

In this regard, two scenarios for the development of events are possible. First, Russia accepts the NATO proposal and starts negotiations on the military-technical part - on arms control, on conventional, nuclear weapons, and on medium and short-range missiles, rules for the rendezvous of military aircraft and ships are being adopted.

However, the basic principles of European security will then remain the same as they have been for 30 years - in Russia they are seen as beneficial for the West and disadvantageous for themselves. If Russia goes down this path, it will disavow its own demands and thus discredit itself.

Now that the negotiations have taken place and the position of Washington and Brussels has been formulated, the issue of further strategy will be decided by President Vladimir Putin. If he considers it unacceptable to move along the military-technical line without a political aspect, then it is worth waiting for the second scenario of the development of events - namely, further intensification of tension not so much between Russia and Ukraine, but between Russia and NATO.

New weapons will be deployed, statements about the possibility of nuclear war will be louder.

 

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