As of earlier this week, according to a short report from the Reuters Staff, Russia has proposed a set of de-escalation arms control measures since the collapse of the INF nuclear arms control treaty. The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty was a 1987 Cold War-era treaty that prohibited putting land-based missiles within a range of 310-3,400 miles of either nation. This agreement, which limited either country’s ability to launch a nuclear strike at a short notice, collapsed when the United States pulled out of it last year. The U.S. did so on the grounds that Russia had violated the terms of the treaty; however, Moscow denied such claims.
The Kremlin, on October 26th, suggested de-escalation measures. These measures consisted of allowing Russia to conduct checks on the U.S. Aegis Ashore System in Europe in exchange for allowing the U.S. to check Russia’s 9M729 missiles facilities in Kalivgrand. This new proposal is especially important as it comes with the further strain of Global Nuclear Arms Peace Architecture as neither of the former foes could make a mutually agreed upon replacement for the major arms control pact, known as New START, which is set to expire in February of 2021. While all of this is undoubtedly stressful, hope can be found in a statement on the Kremlin’s website: “We propose all interested sides to consider concrete options for mutual verification measures to remove existing concerns.” It clearly suggests that at least one of the sides recognizes it is in their best interest to focus on further control of their nuclear arms.
Concerning the Kremlin’s slightly more approachable tone and actions facing the coming nuclear-arms control crisis, I feel it is especially important to commend this action. The prospect of any war, much less nuclear war, has enormously destructive effects. While the Cold War concept of mutually assured destruction (MAD) is not an ideal foreign policy approach when facing Russia; it is important to recognize that MAD would be the ultimate outcome of a nuclear war. It is also important to recognize that nuclear war is quite literally a species ending event. So, as old Cold War safeguards begin to fade, it once again falls upon us as people to step further away from the precipice of destruction.
While the detrimental and separating effects of years of Cold War propaganda can still be felt in the minds of the world’s populace, Russia’s proposed new measure is a perfect first step in rebuilding the lost trust between these two global superpowers. I, therefore, encourage readers to put pressure on the U.S. government to accept this measure. We should also be putting pressure on both parties to have them come to a new long-standing agreement for replacing both the INF treaty and the New START treaty.
Both the recent update about the Kremlin’s steps towards peace as well as the implicated moral responsibility for the U.S. to meet the Kremlin begs the question, what should we as citizens want as an end goal for the nuclear weapons of these two powers? The answer is relatively straightforward. We must as a species strive for global denuclearization. This goal, however, implies the larger responsibility of striving for world peace. The psychology behind the creation of nuclear weapons is the psychology of fear. Nations create and maintain nuclear weapons out of the fear of destruction. Thus at its core, we maintain these weapons not out of a desire to deter our enemies but rather a desire to deter our fears. This logic is ultimately hypocritical because by deterring our fear of one nation’s destruction, we have invited the fear of global destruction and thus, have accomplished nothing.
Trust and denuclearization go hand in hand. While ideally, it would be nice to simply agree to throw out all of the world’s nukes, that concept is unrealistic as long as nations continue to commit aggressive actions that sow distrust between one another. The only way we can truly end our fear of destruction is to begin to build mutually beneficial relationships between nations and take larger steps towards world peace.