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Strategic arms control between the United States and Russia is in very poor shape. The INF Treaty is no longer in force and the prospects for extending New START, the last remnant of formal bilateral arms control architecture, are uncertain. This situation is troubling but not unprecedented: historically, strategic arms control has not progressed on an ascending trajectory but proceeded in ebbs and flows. The presentation revisits the dynamics of bilateral strategic arms control, with a particular focus on the period leading up to the signature of the 1987 INF Treaty. It examines conditions of possibility and factors that contributed to achieving a successful arms control outcome, including leadership, domestic politics, the international balance of power, and exogenous events. The talk further discusses which lessons from the past could still apply, given a vastly more complicated contemporary technological and political context, in which arms control would have to be repaired and reconstituted. The talk concludes with policy implications and recommendations for future arms control endeavors.

Mariana Budjeryn is a Research Fellow with the International Security Program and Project on Managing the Atom. She is currently working on a book on the nuclear disarmament of Ukraine, following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Mariana previously held fellowships at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Harvard University (2018-2019) and International Security Program and Project on Managing the Atom (2016-2018). Mariana earned her Ph.D. in Political Science from Central European University in Budapest, Hungary.