On the whole, the risk of nuclear war and mankind annihilation has increased even though no one has any intention to start it, writes Sergei A. Karaganov and Dmitry V. Suslov. Many factors, on the one hand, indicate that there is a low risk of premeditated war, specially a nuclear one, between nuclear powers; but on the other hand, they substantially increase the risk of unintended military conflict between them and its possible escalation to a global nuclear war.
Strategic stability is in deep crisis. The U.S. has been consistently destroying its traditional architecture—the system of nuclear arms control agreements, again considering options to use nuclear weapons in a conventional conflict for winning the war, and refusing to begin serious negotiations to strengthen strategic stability. This creates a vacuum in the field of nuclear weapons and lowers the threshold for their use at a time when the risk of an armed clash between nuclear powers in the current political and technological situation remains quite high.
However, the main reason for the crisis is much deeper and lies in fundamental changes in the military-strategic landscape, which make the previous understanding of strategic stability obsolete, and renders traditional arms limitation mechanisms ineffective or even senseless.
This report is based on the results of a situational analysis directed by Sergei A. Karaganov and held at the Russian Foreign Ministry on May 21, 2019. The session participants included leading Russian independent and government’s experts in security and arms control issues, including new-generation experts.
The report’s conclusion and recommendations are debatable. We propose to discuss them with a wider circle of Russian experts and with representatives of the Chinese and the US expert communities. A preliminary version of the report was discussed with American experts at a closed session with narrow participation of the Working Group on the Future of the US-Russia Relations (project of the Higher School of Economics and Harvard University), which took place in Helsinki on July 5 – 6, sponsored by the Valdai International Discussion Club and Carnegie Corporation of New York.
The report contains, above all, the conclusions made by its authors who bear full responsibility for its content. They would like to thank the participants of the situational analysis session and of the Helsinki session of the Working Group on the Future of the US-Russia Relations for their observations, suggestions and ideas, which have also been reflected in the report.