When Moscow and Washington cannot come to an agreement on nuclear deterrence, it is important to understand that both sides have a vital interest in strategic arms reduction.
At stake is not just an agreement, but the future of civilisation, writes retired Admiral James Stavridis of the US Navy and former NATO Supreme Commander in an article for Bloomberg.
The Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms may come to an end early next year. If this happens, the situation will become extremely dangerous.
“Obviously, either side could immediately start building more of their existing systems, breaking reasonable limits”, – says Stavridis. – “Russia and the US also have the opportunity to create better systems, and all this would be very destabilizing. The inability to extend the Cold War will continue the march towards an unnecessary new Cold War. And it will bring us closer than ever to midnight at the doomsday clock.”
In this regard, the American admiral expressed his solidarity with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, who proposed to extend the existing contract without any conditions for a year.
“Such a break would give time to avoid rushing”, – Stavridis believes. – “And it would signal to the world that the two nuclear superpowers may agree to sit down at the negotiating table.”
The Donald Trump administration has its own vision of an agreement. Washington is in favour of a longer-term agreement, but with preconditions. In particular, the US wants China involved in the negotiations, which, according to the author, is unlikely.
“This simply will not happen”, – the Admiral is sure. – “The administration’s goals at the moment are too ambitious, especially given that Trump may lose power in three months. So it would be wise to accept Russia’s offer.”
Only there are other factors that hinder the negotiation process. In particular, Stavridis pointed to the American missile systems that are deployed in Eastern Europe, which seriously unnerves Russia.
“All this makes up one long list of complex issues that need to be discussed if the new START Treaty is to get a new life. It would be in America’s interest to agree to at least a one-year timeout to continue the conversation, no matter which party is in the White House”, – stated the military.