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On April 6, 2018 the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) hosted a webinar devoted to Russia – US security relations. Richard Weitz, director of the Center for Military and Political Analysis of the Hudson Institute, and Ilya Kravchenko, RISS researcher and RIAC expert, spoke at the event.

Ilya Kravchenko noted that on April 4, 1948, the US President Harry Truman signed the Marshall Plan. 70 years later, we can see some parallels in Russia – US relations. The United States still considers Europe a sphere of American interests. Cold War being over, there is no ideological division of the world. Still, we are witnessing a diplomatic crisis and an escalation in Russia – US relations. 20 years ago, the United States and Russia were trying to negotiate and reduce the number of nuclear weapons. However, the current situation could be described as a "new cold war". No negotiations are being held, no relevant platforms or opportunities for negotiations seem to be present. The existing treaties have turned out to be incapable of solving the problems the countries are facing today, and neither Russia nor the United States are talking about new agreements.

Richard Weitz highlighted that the United States has recently issued three important military documents in the military sphere: the National Security Strategy, 2018 National Defense Strategy, and 2018 Nuclear Posture Review. Russia and China are seen as competitors, and the competition that is taking place has military, value, and economic aspects. But the latest of the documents – the new US nuclear doctrine – clearly focuses on Russia, although Trump talks about China as the main threat.

On April 6, 2018 the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) hosted a webinar devoted to Russia – US security relations. Richard Weitz, director of the Center for Military and Political Analysis of the Hudson Institute, and Ilya Kravchenko, RISS researcher and RIAC expert, spoke at the event.

Ilya Kravchenko noted that on April 4, 1948, the US President Harry Truman signed the Marshall Plan. 70 years later, we can see some parallels in Russia – US relations. The United States still considers Europe a sphere of American interests. Cold War being over, there is no ideological division of the world. Still, we are witnessing a diplomatic crisis and an escalation in Russia – US relations. 20 years ago, the United States and Russia were trying to negotiate and reduce the number of nuclear weapons. However, the current situation could be described as a "new cold war". No negotiations are being held, no relevant platforms or opportunities for negotiations seem to be present. The existing treaties have turned out to be incapable of solving the problems the countries are facing today, and neither Russia nor the United States are talking about new agreements.

Richard Weitz highlighted that the United States has recently issued three important military documents in the military sphere: the National Security Strategy, 2018 National Defense Strategy, and 2018 Nuclear Posture Review. Russia and China are seen as competitors, and the competition that is taking place has military, value, and economic aspects. But the latest of the documents – the new US nuclear doctrine – clearly focuses on Russia, although Trump talks about China as the main threat.

Discussing nuclear weapons, speakers mentioned Iranian and North Korean nuclear programs. Neither Russia nor the United States can order these countries to abandon existing nuclear weapons. The existing controlling mechanisms have outlived themselves, the system does not work, and states have to address this issue.

Answering the questions, speakers emphasized several points. Firstly, the tension between Russia and the West is growing because of Skripal case, which reminded people of how dangerous chemical weapons are even in such small doses. What if chemical weapons, in large quantities, are captured by terrorists? What if terrorists get nuclear weapons? This is another challenge the states are facing today. Governments should not blame each other, they should cooperate. Countries are exchanging accusations, as they did during the Cold War. Then all issues were discussed, whereas now diplomats cannot meet and negotiate. It highlights the crisis of the rules of the game and the problem of legal evidence.

Secondly, we lack information on the kinds of weapons China possesses – unlike Russia and the United States, this state did not sign any arms limitation agreements. There is information on Chinese military budget, which is smaller than that of the US, but much bigger than the Russian one. We have seen Russian and American weapons in Syria and other conflicts, but have never seen Chinese weapons in action. Therefore, the Chinese threat to the US is more serious than the Russian one. As for the US military budget, there are heavy expenditures due to the involvement of private companies and the deployment of the American troops around the world.

Thirdly, a few years ago, Vladimir Putin announced Russia's will to cooperate with other countries in fight against terrorism. What is left to determine is who the terrorists we are fighting against are (for example, in Syria). In addition, it is unlikely that Russia and the United States will effectively cooperate in the fight against terrorism, separating it from the issues the two disagree on.

Regarding the future, Richard Weitz suggested that we could try to restore and improve Russia – US relations by taking small steps, through cooperation on mutually beneficial issues, for example, climate change or economic development of the Arctic.

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Poll conducted

  1. Korean Peninsula Crisis Has no Military Solution. How Can It Be Solved?
    Demilitarization of the region based on Russia-China "Dual Freeze" proposal  
     36 (35%)
    Restoring multilateral negotiation process without any preliminary conditions  
     27 (26%)
    While the situation benefits Kim Jong-un's and Trump's domestic agenda, there will be no solution  
     22 (21%)
    Armed conflict still cannot be avoided  
     12 (12%)
    Stonger deterrence on behalf of the U.S. through modernization of military infrastructure in the region  
     4 (4%)
    Toughening economic sanctions against North Korea  
     2 (2%)
 
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