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Group statement | 18 December 2018

Open Letter from the YGLN to President Trump and President Putin

38 diplomats, researchers, civil servants, academics, journalists, lawyers, and economists from the Younger Generation Leaders Network pen an open letter to President Trump and President Putin in support of the INF Treaty and arms control; noting their political legacies and our futures are at stake.

The full letter is reproduced below. The letter is also available is Russian here.


Open Letter from American, Russian, and European Young Leaders on the Critical Importance of Arms Control

Dear President Trump and President Putin:

We are writing to you because we are gravely concerned by the possible collapse of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, and urge you to preserve the agreement, resolve compliance issues, and work to protect the nuclear arms control infrastructure that has underpinned global security for decades. It is that security that allowed our generation to move past the constant fear of nuclear war. We now believe that security is at risk.

We are members of the Younger Generation Leaders Network on Euro-Atlantic Security (YGLN), a collection of young professionals from 28 countries across the Euro-Atlantic region spanning from Vancouver to Vladivostok. We are diplomats, researchers, civil servants, academics, journalists, lawyers, and economists. Though we have different perspectives on many aspects of Euro-Atlantic security, we share a deep concern that the risk of nuclear weapons use is higher today than it has ever been in our lifetimes.

For over forty years, nuclear arms control agreements, such as the INF Treaty, have provided stability and predictability to the most consequential nuclear relationship on the planet. The INF Treaty eliminated an entire class of weapons from U.S. and Russian arsenals and reduced the risk of nuclear war in Europe. The destruction of that agreement may spark a dangerous new arms race in a world already beset with instability.

It is our generation that will have to bear the costs and the risks of destabilizing nuclear policy decisions taken today. It is with that in mind that we call on you to urgently implement the following recommendations:

1) Preserve the INF Treaty. Rather than abandoning the agreement, the United States and Russia should urgently seek to resolve compliance issues through technical talks focused on practical, mutually-amenable solutions. Moscow and Washington should also intensify diplomatic efforts to begin a global conversation on the risks posed by intermediate-range ballistic missiles.

2) Extend the New START Treaty until 2026. Set to expire in February 2021, the New START Treaty provides common-sense limits and verification on the numbers of U.S. and Russian deployed strategic weapons and delivery vehicles. Extending the treaty until 2026 will help ensure that our generation continues to benefit from the transparency and predictability that it provides.

3) Initiate a dialogue on nuclear risk reduction. Officials from Moscow, Washington, and European capitals should establish an official and sustained dialogue on nuclear risk reduction and strategic stability. The dialogue should include discussions on measures to reduce the risk of accident and miscalculation, as well as on the impacts of cyber, space, and precision-guided conventional weapons on strategic stability.

4) Declare that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.” Issuing such a joint statement would offer a much-needed signal to political and military leaders in our countries that preventing nuclear war remains a top priority.

We respectfully ask that you and your advisors take these recommendations under consideration and act now before it is too late to reverse course. Your legacy and our future are at stake. Do not leave the next generation with another Cold War.


Zeynep Alemdar, Founder of Women in Foreign Policy Initiative, İstanbul, Turkey

Vera Axyonova, Assistant Professor, University of Gießen, Germany, Kazakhstan

Alexandra Bell, Senior Policy Director, Center for Arms Control and Non-proliferation, United States

Julia Berghofer, Policy Fellow, European Leadership Network, Germany

Alice Billon-Galland, Policy Fellow, European Leadership Network, France

Mattison Brady, YGLN Member, United States

David Cadier, Researcher, Center for International Studies (CERI), Sciences Po, Paris, France

Kirill Entin, Research Fellow of the Centre for Comprehensive European and International Studies, National Research University “Higher School of Economics“, Russia

Carolyn Forstein, YGLN Member, United States 

Andrew Futter, Associate Professor, University of Leicester, United Kingdom

Alexander Gabuev, Senior Fellow, Carnegie Moscow Center, Russia

Clemens Häusler, YGLN Member, Germany

Roger Hilton, Research Fellow, Canadian Global Affairs Institute (CGAI), Canada

Igor Istomin, Associate Professor, Department of Applied International Political Analysis, Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO University), Russia

Pavel Kanevskiy, Professor of Political Science, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia

Beka Kiria, Founder and Director, Gaga Institute, Georgia

Henrik B. L. Larsen, YGLN Member, Denmark Chris Miller, Assistant Professor, The Fletcher School, United States

Jura Nosál, YGLN Member, Slovakia

Yauheni Preiherman, Head, Minsk Dialogue Track-2 Initiative, Belarus

Leon Ratz, Program Officer, Nuclear Threat Initiative, United States

Samuel Rebo, Harvard Law School, United States

Henry Rõigas, YGLN Member, Estonia

Bartosz Rydliński, Aleksander Kwaśniewski’s Foundation “Amicus Europae”, Poland

Rachel Salzman, YGLN Member, United States

Oleksiy Semeniy, Director of Institute for Global Transformations, Kyiv, Ukraine

Oleg Shakirov, Consultant, PIR Center, Russia

Pasha Sharikov, Head of the Center for Applied Research, Institute for USA and Canada Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia

Francesco Siccardi, Program Manager, Carnegie Europe, Italy

Marco Siddi, Senior Researcher, Finnish Institute of International Affairs, Helsinki, Finland, Italy

Arseny Sivitsky, Director of the Center for Strategic and Foreign Policy Studies, Minsk, Belarus

Mareena Robinson Snowden, Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, United States

Max Suchkov, Associate Professor, Pyatigorsk State University, Russia Ivan Timofeev, Director of Programs, Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC), Russia

Maria Usacheva, Political Scientist, Russia Natalia Viakhireva, Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC), Russia

Andrei Yeliseyeu, Research Director, EAST Center, Poland/Belarus, Belarus

Mikayel Zolyan, Associate Professor, Brusov State University for Languages and Social Sciences, Yerevan, Armenia

Institutional affiliations are listed only for identification purposes; a signature does not necessarily imply endorsement by the institution affiliated with the signee.

The opinions articulated above also do not necessarily reflect the position of the European Leadership Network or any of its members. The ELN’s aim is to encourage debates that will help develop Europe’s capacity to address pressing foreign, defence, and security challenge.