Diverging Objectives: Maintaining Strategic Stability with Russia While Expanding Global Missile Defense
AIR COMMAND AND STAFF COLL MAXWELL AFB AL MAXWELL AFB United States
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Since the US left the ABM Treaty in 2002, an assumption has been prevalent that Russias consistent concerns with the limited US ballistic missile defense BMD system was political bluster, because its nuclear deterrent was large enough to easily defeat any US defenses. Previous studies generally based their arguments on a faulty understanding of Moscows deterrence requirements, assuming it would accept a minimum deterrence standard of only a few warheads surviving to detonation. The following study shows that Moscow desires a credible threat of unacceptable damage to deter the United States, and that an expanding US ballistic missile defense BMD system could prevent Russia from achieving this criterion and ultimately degrade bilateral strategic stability. The analysis uses a scenario planning framework to compare four future scenarios of US BMD versus Russias nuclear deterrent. These comparisons demonstrate that unchecked expansion of the US missile defense system, especially when combined with future arms limitations, will cause legitimate concern in Russia over its ability to deter the United States during a crisis. Moscows reduced confidence will continue to compel it to find new capabilities to penetrate and circumvent missile defense in order to restore balance, degrading arms race stability between the United States and Russia. Any further BMD expansion will further degrade strategic stability and put at risk future arms control agreements.
- Government and Political Science
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics
- Antimissile Defense Systems