Russia-US Summit: Deadly decisions

Presidents Clinton and Putin are to meet in Moscow in June. Both men have nuclear issues on their minds – just like an old- fashioned arms control summit some might say. But there is also the Chechen war and restoring Russia’s pride in a strong state – potentially an explosive mixture.

The World Today Updated 27 October 2020 Published 1 June 2000 6 minute READ

Pavel Baev

Senior Researcher, International Peace Research Institute, Oslo

President Clinton is agonising over building a strategic defence system – the last meaningful decision of his presidency. The agony comes from the risk of derailing his engage-Russia policy in which a lot of political capital has been invested. A unilateral withdrawal from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM) would provoke confrontational counter-measures from Russia. But a compromise solution might be much closer than Clinton appears to assume.

President Putin has his own heavy nuclear agenda: he needs to cut Russia’s ageing strategic potential but also wants to play up its political importance. He is preparing for prolonged hard bargaining and does not want the US going its own way towards strategic superiority and invincibility. Putin is ready to make significant concessions in strategic arms control and is able to sell them to his Parliament.

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