Paper - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Ensuring Strategic Stability in the Past and Present: Theoretical and Applied Questions

  • Andrei A. Kokoshin
| June 2011

In the Foreword to this paper by Andrei Kokoshin, Belfer Center Director Graham Allison writes: "The global nuclear order is reaching a tipping point. Several trends are advancing along crooked paths, each undermining this order. These trends include North Korea’s expanding nuclear weapons program, Iran’s continuing nuclear ambitions, Pakistan’s increasing instability, growing doubts about the sustainability of the nonproliferation regime in general, and terrorist groups’ enduring aspirations to acquire nuclear weapons. Andrei Kokoshin, deputy of the State Duma and former secretary of Russia’s Security Council, analyzes these challenges that threaten to cause the nuclear order to collapse in the following paper......

Kokoshin, who has spent decades helping to formulate Russia’s defense policies, describes other challenges to strategic stability as well, including the development of ballistic missile defenses, incapacitation of early warning or targeting or navigational systems, and breakthroughs in research and development that devalue existing nuclear weaponry systems. Kokoshin’s writing is instructive for those of us trying to understand the rationale behind Russia’s response to U.S. missile defense plans in Europe. The proposition that offense and defense are inextricably connected in the realm of strategic stability holds as true in the eyes of Russian policy-makers as the law of gravity, even though many in Washington see the sword the United States has, and the shield it is now building, as belonging to separate realms. In Russia’s view, U.S. assurances that the planned missile defenses will not target Russian strategic nuclear forces do not repeal the law of gravity, and Russia’s capability to deliver a retaliatory strike will be eventually called into doubt as these defenses develop. To prevent loss of this capability, Russia will have to further modernize its strategic offensive forces, goes the Russian argument, as comprehensively presented by Kokoshin.

Kokoshin’s grasp of these cardinal challenges makes this paper a must-read, not only for scholars of Russia’s policies in the sphere of international security, but also for practicing policymakers in the field of non-proliferation around the world."

See full text of Kokoshin paper attached (pdf).

For more information on this publication: Please contact the Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Kokoshin, Andrei A.. “Ensuring Strategic Stability in the Past and Present: Theoretical and Applied Questions.” Paper, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School, June 2011.

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