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Policy brief | 19 January 2018

Mission Impossible: pursuing arms control with Putin’s Russia

Image of Stephen Blank

Stephen Blank |Senior Fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council

Arms Control Russia Russia-West Relations Euro-Atlantic Security

Following the conference Making Conventional Arms Control Fit for the 21st Century which took place in Berlin on 6-7 September 2017, the European Leadership Network invited leading experts who participated in the discussions to contribute to further debate on the future of conventional and nuclear arms control.

In his Policy Brief, Dr. Stephen Blank puts the blame for the crisis of European arms control firmly on Russia. According to his analysis, the current Russian approach to security makes an increase of Moscow’s military potential, coercion and threat of the use of force inherent parts of Russian policy towards the West. Taken together with the war with Ukraine, that makes meaningful and productive engagement on arms control impossible. Dr Blank questions directly the rationale for formulating new arms control proposals towards Moscow, noting the poor state of implementation of the existing instruments and mechanisms such as the CFE Treaty, Open Skies and Vienna Document. The report concludes that “the burden of proof on the sincerity of dedication to arms control rests not with the West but with Russia”.

The ELN will continue to publish texts presenting diverse viewpoints on the topic of arms control in Europe with the aim of stimulating the debate and identifying ways to reach further progress.


The opinions articulated above represent the views of the author(s), and 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 the pressing foreign, defence, and security challenges of our time.