It Did Not Work and Will Not Work? On the Reasons of the Failure of Anti-Missile Cooperation Between Russia and the United States

It Did Not Work and Will Not Work? On the Reasons of the Failure of Anti-Missile Cooperation Between Russia and the United States

Arbatov A.G.,

Full Member of RAS; Director, Center for International Security, Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences,

elibrary_id: 73079 |

DOI: 10.17976/jpps/2016.02.05

For citation:

Arbatov A.G. It Did Not Work and Will Not Work? On the Reasons of the Failure of Anti-Missile Cooperation Between Russia and the United States. – Polis. Political Studies. 2016. No. 2. P. 49-61. (In Russ.).


Joint ballistic missile defense (BMD) means that one party puts saving the lives of millions of its citizens at the mercy of political commitment and the effectiveness of technical systems of the other. Such interdependence implies nothing but close allied relations, which should cover not only the sphere of missile defense, but the key directions of military and foreign policy. Russia and the United States do not have such a relationship, and in the foreseeable future it is unlikely to emerge. Perhaps, in the past, there was a widely accepted and quite naive belief that by the technical solutions for the integration of certain elements of BMD systems it would be possible to circumvent these fundamental military-political realities of the relations between the two powers. After many attempts to establish BMD cooperation in 2002‑2011,it became apparent that the whole idea was premature, and from the point of view of today’s realities somewhat utopian. Even a partial integration of some elements of the BMD systems implies common understanding of the origins, characteristics of missile attack risks, and their azimuths. The U.S. openly designs its anti-missile system against Iran, North Korea, and, unofficially, perhaps against China. Russia has never officially recognized the threats to its security from these countries. With regard to the BMD systems, Russia’s concern about the U.S./NATO program might be alleviated, among other things, by agreeing on confidence-building measures. Such agreements and defense programs adjustments would create preconditions for cooperation in some BMD elements, and later, for the integration of Russia’s and the U.S. defense systems as a whole. However, the revival of cooperative anti-missile elements and systems involves much more. It implies a deep revision of relations between Russia and the United States and its allies, which requires significant changes in the foreign and security policies of both parties. All of this goes far beyond relations between Moscow and Washington in the sphere of anti-missile defense – as important and complex as it is. And this problem of higher order, undoubtedly, is much more important for the future of Russia and of the rest of the world.

Russia; USА, international security; missile defense; ABM; cooperation.

Content No. 2, 2016

See also:

Arbatov A.G.,
Nuclear reloading and international security. – Polis. Political Studies. 2011. No3

Potapov V.Ya.,
National and international security: political and military aspects. – Polis. Political Studies. 2015. No1

Fedorchenko A.V.,
Russia – Saudi Arabia: Will Partnership Take Place?. – Polis. Political Studies. 2019. No6

Shaklein V.V.,
Does Washington Have Any Real Strategy Towards Russia? (Thoughts on the Monograph “Russia and the United States in the Evolving World Order”). – Polis. Political Studies. 2019. No2

Sheynis V.L.,
Russia’s national security. durability trial. Part II. – Polis. Political Studies. 2010. No1



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