T190. Russia, NATO, and Risk

 

Ready to read another transcript?
Click here to return to the transcription home page

 

Project Save the World Podcast / Talk Show Episode Number: 190
Panelists: Sergey Rogov, Frederic Pearson Alvin Saperstein, Erika Simpson, and Alyn Ware
Host: Metta Spencer

Date Aired:  19 February 2021
Date Transcribed:  13 March 2021 / 27 April 2021
Transcription: Otter.ai
Transcription Review and Edits:  David Millar and Adam Wynne

Metta Spencer  

Hi, I’m Metta Spencer, I’m in Toronto, but we’re going to have a very international conversation today. Because we have a very important, dear friend of mine in Moscow, who is going to tell us how we’re going to repair the relationship between Russia and NATO, at least we hope so. And, in addition, I’ve invited some friends from the US and Canada and from Europe, to join in this conversation because this is a very large and important issue that needs to be addressed.   Sergey Rogov is in Moscow. He is a Russian political scientist… member of the Russian Academy of Sciences. And he is the Emeritus Director of the Institute for USA and Canada studies, which, at least during the Cold War was by far the most important Institute in Russia because it very much informed Gorbachev and other policymakers. This is still a very important outfit. So, I know that Sergey Rogov himself is a very distinguished figure in Russia, and it’s a pleasure to be back in touch with him. Frederic Pearson, is a professor of political science and the Director of the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. Alvin Saperstein is a professor emeritus of physics at Wayne State, also in Detroit. Erika Simpson is President of the Canadian Peace Research Association and is a professor of political science at Western University in London, Ontario. And Alyn Ware is coming to us from Prague; he is the Global Coordinator for Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament. And he’s the director of the Basel Peace Office in Basel, Switzerland. Dr. Rogov convened a series of online webinars with very distinguished people who are concerned and specialists in arms control issues and international politics. To have a conversation about finding recommendations that could be made to improve the deteriorated relationship between Russia and NATO and especially, of course, with regard to the arms issues. And this gave rise to a lengthy document with a number of recommendations which I think everybody here would agree would be fine… And the question is, how realistic they are. How we can promote them and maybe are there are some angles or priorities we should try to establish about strategizing to accomplish some of these things. The Cold War was ended a while back, but it’s not very warm around here. Especially today, because North America’s in a blizzard. And I don’t know how you guys in Moscow are faring. But there’s… a lot of snow out in Toronto. Anyway. Sergey, maybe you’d like to —

all laugh)

Metta Spencer  

Anyway, Sergey, how would you like to start us off by giving us the story of what you’ve been up to? And what you think we should all be thinking about? 

Sergey Rogov  

This year, we’ll have to celebrate the 50th anniversary of my career at the Institute of the United States and Canada of the Russian Academy of Sciences. I never knew I would live so long. But now I feel like 50 years ago, I feel very young because I can see that we are back in the Cold War. I call it Cold War 2.0

Metta Spencer  

2.0 – you think we’re really back in a cold war?

Sergey Rogov  

Yes, and in some areas it’s even more dangerous now during the Cold War. First of all, the propaganda stereotypes of the Cold War are back, and they replace serious analysis of the relationship between Russia and the West. The political dialogue between Russia and the United States; Russia and NATO; Russia and Canada are almost nonexistent. The arms control regime almost completely collapsed. Last week — since the New START Treaty was extended… Last week … If Trump were reelected, as he claims, he was I’m afraid that the New START Treaty by now… would have been dead. Because the Trump administration was not interested in arms control regime at all. And in this situation, we have seen the resumption of the arms race. When almost all restrictions which were initiated years ago, the ABM treaty, the CFE treaty, the Open Skies Treaty. These limitations are no more operational because the United States withdrew from all those arms control agreements. And this is an extremely dangerous situation where you I agree with my friend Bill Perry that it is the most dangerous period in human history since the Cuban Missile Crisis. All kinds of terrible scenarios can happen if Rick Perry is again [unclear audio – potentially “revived ___”] and facing this situation being imprisoned in my home because of the coronavirus. Last year, I decided to try to do what I can do. I have to confess that ending the Cold War, some think will take a lot of time and money. And I personally don’t think that it’s… that I’m capable of producing a major breakthrough which will help to end the Cold War. But to prevent a nuclear war, to prevent military confrontation between Russia and the United States and Russia and NATO, I believe we’re responsible. I had a lot of experience in my previous life, when those agreements were initiated and I decided to do my best to initiate dialogue between the experts from Russia, the United States, NATO countries on risk-reduction between Russia and the West, so we can reduce the risk of a military confrontation. And we did it together with Alexey Gromyko – the Director of the Institute of Europe in the Russian Academy. The grandson of Andrei Gromyko if you remember Andrei Gromyko. 

Metta Spencer  

Gromyko… his grandson is now a big official there now. 

Sergey Rogov  

He is Director of the Institute of Europe. 

Metta Spencer  

Okay, so he was uh, he had he was on board with this completely.

Sergey Rogov  

And since I know a lot of American experts on arms control, we invited them to participate in weekly zoom seminars on arms control. And last year, we had more than 20 Zoom seminars as a result of which we were able to do something which, frankly, I didn’t expect we could do. We produced a joint statement.

Erika Simpson  

 No, you have to turn your virtual backdrop off Sergey so that we can see it. showing us the paper there. Now show us the paper. You can show us the paper now. 

(Sergey Rogov holds up paper)

Erika Simpson  

 We have all been looking at that intensely. 

Sergey Rogov  

It’s not a big paper… six pages. 

Alvin Saperstein  

It’s a good paper. 

Sergey Rogov  

It’s six pages divided into seven baskets. And something completely unexpected happened. We have had several dozen experts participating. But our recommendations were signed by 20 former foreign ministers and defense ministers. 

Metta Spencer  

Wonderful. 

Sergey Rogov  

By 25 former ambassadors; by senators; former retired generals and admirals; and by George Robertson and [unclear audio]. William Burns signed it too. Before he knew that he would be appointed to a very interesting job in the Biden Administration which I presume was a surprise for him. And for me… but the level…. 

Metta Spencer  

 Excuse me, Sergey, remind me what I know that Bill Burns has a new appointment, but I’ve forgotten what he’s going to be in the Biden administration.

Sergey Rogov  

Oh, it’s a very simple job: Director of the CIA.

Metta Spencer  

Oh, okay. So, he’s… (chuckles) that’ll be a funny role. But anyway, that’s good. 

Sergey Rogov  

Some other American experts who signed those recommendations also received serious positions in the Biden administration. And as I mentioned, there are seven baskets. First of all we recognize how dangerous the situation is. The recommendations were released in early December [2020]. So about 10 weeks ago.

Metta Spencer  

About 145 high-level people have signed it, right? It’s a very impressive list.

Sergey Rogov  

More. 

Metta Spencer  

More?

Sergey Rogov  

More than 165 because after we released it some more people were wanting to sign. Anyway, so we say that we have to make an extra effort to stop the very dangerous developments. And we called for the New START Extension. But we’re also called for the resumption of the practical dialogue between Russia and NATO. Since as you know, the Russia-NATO Council is practically doing nothing. We also suggested an immediate resumption of military-to-military contacts, which practically were completely frozen by NATO. We’re also suggested that we should negotiate additional measures to prevent dangerous incidents at sea, in the air, and on the ground… We also suggested that we should think how to manage military exercises to avoid panic that the other guy is planning a surprise attack. So, follow-through, or negotiate on transparency when you conduct such negotiations, and how we can limit the scope of such exercises, then we suggested that we should start discussing the prevention of deployment of the new generation of intermediate-range missiles in Europe, since the United States withdrew from the INF Treaty. And this is a very, very dangerous development since ballistic missiles – American ballistic missile or hypersonic missiles – is deployed close to the Russian border. For instance, in Estonia — the flight time from Estonia to St. Petersburg is just one minute; and the flight time from Latvia to Moscow is three or four minutes, and talking about ballistic missiles and hypersonic missiles, the cruise missiles are slower. We also suggested we should talk about the missile defenses in Europe. And finally, we called for preservation of the Open Skies Treaty. Unfortunately, just before our recommendations were released, the Trump Administration withdrew from the Open Skies Treaty. And that’s why we decided last month to resume the dialogue between Russian and Western experts. The first topic which we discussed last week, and this week, is how to save the Open Skies Treaty. Of course, where I can tell you about plenty of details. But I think that I already consumed a lot of your time.

Metta Spencer  

Yes, but you’re the most important person to consume our time because it’s your proposal that we want to consider. So, I this is an excellent summary. Do you want to tell us what you think the fate of the Open Skies Treaty will be? I would assume that it’s that with Biden it’s a slam-dunk that certainly he will renew it.

Sergey Rogov  

I wish you were correct. 

Metta Spencer  

Really?

Sergey Rogov  

First of all, the Biden Administration already demonstrated that it can make U-turns and get back to agreements and international institutions from which Trump withdrew – I mean The World Health Organization, the Paris Climate Treaty, and a few other instances when Biden made the U-turn. Then he made a U-turn with the Open Skies Treaty. And first comes the question whether he can do it without verification by the US Senate. 

Metta Spencer  

Ah, okay, 

Sergey Rogov  

For that, as you know he needs 67 votes. 

Metta Spencer  

Yeah. 

Sergey Rogov  

And then years ago, when New Start was signed, 13 Republican senators joined the Democrats and voted for verification of the New Start. Only 2 survived. Only Murkowski and Collins – 2 ladies are still senators from the Republican Party. And people like Dick Lugar are gone. And I cannot imagine that certain Republican senators shall vote to support any arms control agreement at all. Maybe I’m too pessimistic. But it’s… miracles happen, but very seldom.

Metta Spencer  

Would you say that true for something like the INF Treaty? I mean that, you know, it’s been dead a while but you can’t just… Don’t trust me… Don’t trust me. But there is there are some possibilities. One of them that the US Congress in fiscal year 2020, the Defense Authorization Act, a year ago, created demand that the Trump Administration should inform the Congress about the decision to withdraw 120 days before the decision to withdraw is announced. And Trump didn’t do it. That’s why it’s possible to say that he violated American domestic law. And so the question is: Can Biden announced that the withdrawal is illegal and invalid? Because domestic law was violated. One additional factor is that the new Assistant Secretary for Arms Control and Nonproliferation – Bonnie Jenkins – she was the legal advisor to American delegation, when the Open Skies Treaty was negotiated. So, I presume that she knows plenty of legalistic details related to this treaty. But just before this Zoom meeting, I watched Biden speaking to the Munich Security Conference and he made very strong attacks against Russia and China and he didn’t mention arms control at all. Maybe I missed something. 

Frederic Pearson  

He also talked about the P5+1 with Iran. 

Sergey Rogov  

That’s true. 

Frederic Pearson  

And I think that he, he made a point of supporting arms control in that talk.

Sergey Rogov  

Sorry, I missed it. But the Iranian Nuclear Deal definitely is a top priority for the Biden Administration. I’m not sure that the Open Skies Treaty is a top priority. Maybe much less than top priority. And the time is running out and if the United States sooner or later doesn’t withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty, Russia will also leave the treaty. We are nice, but we are not so nice.

Frederic Pearson  

While we’re talking about American Senate approval and support for measures which are vital to have, I might point out of course, that the environment for this is not helped when issues arise such as Russian cyber-meddling, the so called “SolarWinds” election meddling, if these things are proven, and I think that there’s strong evidence — poisoning of people, diplomats, and so on and opposition people. It makes it much harder for an American Administration to bring things to Congress and carry through with it, when the things look questionable.

Sergey Rogov  

I don’t think that I can end the Cold War. So, I’m old enough to remember the Tonkin Resolution. Remember, what the US intelligence scheme… And remember, Colin Powell shaking the right stuff at the Security Council. So, I can give you a list of other events, which made me wonder – what are the facts and what is propaganda?

Alvin Saperstein  

The comments that’ve just been made are just another indication that the Cold War is still going on. There’s no question about that. We don’t need arms control if there is no Cold War. The reason for arms control is when there is a Cold War, you don’t want the Cold War to turn into a hot war. If there were no Cold War, we wouldn’t be here discussing arms control.

Sergey Rogov  

Well, I fully agree with you. And I don’t think that there is a need for an arms control treaty between the United States and Canada. Maybe 150 years ago there was an arms control treaty, but not today. And exactly because the relationship between Russia and the United States and Russia and NATO is so bad. We have. to negotiate the rules of the game, we have negotiate measures to prevent a military conflict, in particular to prevent a nuclear war.

Frederic Pearson  

I certainly agree that the situation is not good between NATO and Russia. But might I point out that it’s my understanding that some things are still going on that are constructive. For instance, I’m told that the dialogue between Russia and NATO, technically, between the military commanders and the Supreme Allied commanders in Europe and Europe, for NATO, still have never stopped. Top flag officers evidently do talk with their counterparts. Let’s hope that they do. Also, there are still rules in place, since the Cold War, that sort of defined how ships and aircraft are supposed to act, reduce the chances of incidents with each other. However, for political reasons, sometimes one side or the other, particularly often the Russians – it is claimed – don’t always follow the rules and buzz close to ships or aircraft to make political points, which is not a good prospect, certainly, but these rules do exist. And then there are the… the NATO-Russia Founding Act, could be, of course, worked on as is proposed in your document. But it’s a hard sell politically at this point, as is, for instance the new UN Treaty against Nuclear Weapons [TPNW]. I think neither side – and Canada included – has supported the UN declaration that nuclear weapons should be abolished. So, it’s an interesting standoff on that regard, too. And I think it would be beneficial if we all adopted more forthcoming attitudes.

Sergey Rogov  

The Devil is in the small details. I think we met 4 years ago in Brussels, right? 

Frederic Pearson  

Yes, that’s correct. 

Sergey Rogov  

When you talked about the Nuclear Ban Treaty and I was telling you that nuclear weapon states are like smokers. We know the bad details, but nevertheless, we didn’t stop smoking.

Alyn Ware  

I had a couple of comments. Firstly, Sergey, commendation on the excellent report and the recommendations, and on bringing dialogue amongst key experts and influential people to support those recommendations. These are really some really concrete measures, you know, for particularly the new Biden Administration to advance in dialogue with Russia and ones that most of the measures that you put in there wouldn’t require a new treaty that would have to be ratified by the Congress. I think it’s important also to look at additional measures, the ones that you put forward, there are primarily military measures. I think there are also additional political measures that could be taken, again, ones that don’t necessarily require ratification by the Congress. And we know that there were good measures taken in 1991 on reducing tactical nuclear weapons or taking them off surface ships, the nuclear risk reduction measures, lowering the alert status of the nuclear weapons that were done by presidential directives. First the US and then responded by the Russians. So, there are opportunities for measures that can be advanced, that might be reciprocated, that don’t, again, don’t have to require treaty. And in those senses, there’s three that I would raise, and with Bonnie Jenkins, as an Undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security, we have a champion of these. One is a reaffirmation of the Reagan-Gorbachev dictum that a nuclear war cannot be won, and so must never be fought. You know, and reaffirmation of that and getting additional nuclear-armed states to agree with it as running up to the NPT with very, very good political confidence-building measures, even if it doesn’t have any direct military operational aspect to us. Also, no-first-use and de-alerting are areas where I think there can be measures taken forward that Biden is committed to, Bonnie Jenkins is committed to, and I think there could be opportunities to advance some of those no-first-use and de-alerting initiatives as well. So that’s a couple of things I put forward to complement the excellent recommendations in your report.

Frederic Pearson  

And, the limitation on the deployment of heavy troop concentrations near borders, near the or the other side’s borders, I think is also extremely well taken. Particularly for the Baltic areas and also for the Ukraine areas. However, Ukraine remains a stumbling block. And I think that there needs to be some confidence-building measures in place…. for no further, shall we say, violations of sovereignty on the part of any side. And along these lines. So, I think also the new technologies have to be put into the document a little more strongly. You mentioned the hypersonic missiles: very, very disturbing, the amounts of the lack of lead time, to make sense of what is perhaps a triggering, or a response. Erika has written about, I think, a general who very wisely refrained from early commitment of a retaliation, just out of his gut feeling, but that if he later said, that he… knew what he later learned, he might not have refrained. So, we’re always on a tender edge about accidental war and launch-on-warning, which we don’t want to exacerbate. And also, evidently, there is development of drone torpedoes, nuclear drone torpedoes. I don’t even fully understand what they are. But the march of technology is very disturbing still, and I think needs to be reined in, on both sides. Space based systems with the US, you know, inauguration of something of a space force and probably the Russians with similar aspirations and capabilities. This opens up a Pandora’s awful box of violating the Outer Space Treaties, or weakening that regime. And of course, we have a new space power in the world and that’s the United Arab Emirates, so we don’t even know what to make of them.

Metta Spencer  

Erika goes to Brussels frequently and hangs out with these NATO friends. So, she may have some inside scoop.

Erika Simpson  

I wanted to draw your attention to the comments of NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg yesterday, last night, because they had a two-day defense meeting, a virtual conference amongst the Defence Ministers of the 30 allies. And so, he was asked, and it’s interesting in the light of what you’ve been talking about, Sergey, do we have a new Cold War? I think we all agree that we’re in another cold war. But what Stoltenberg said is, “There is no way to deny or to hide that over the last years, we had some difficult times, some challenging moments.” He’s referring to what we’ve all lived through with the Trump Administration, I’m sure. But then he goes on and says we have a new US administration very much committed to NATO, to the bond between Europe and North America embodied in NATO. These are his exact words. And then he says, “I really think we should then build on that, and have some real substance and forward- looking decisions at our summit later this year,” which, as you know, will be in mid-June. So, I looked at your recommendations in light of NATO high level policymakers… looking at your recommendations, which are very good, I agree with all of them. And it’s very impressive that during the height of the Cold War, you got 130, more than 130, high level decision makers to agree. So, when I go through them one by one, and I know, I have very little time on this show, but I just want to say, of course, they’re going to agree to the NATO 2030 reflection process, of course, they’re going to revive dialogue at ambassadorial level. Of course, as Fred was saying, the SACEUR will be communicating as well with Russian military officials, of course. They don’t mention, you didn’t mention much anything actually about the FMCT, the CTBT, and the TPNW, nothing. But I’m sure that that will be raised this August, and the Biden Administration is going to take action. So, I’m a lot more optimistic. And then on the Open Skies Treaty, which is close to Canadians’ heart, because we were the ones that originally proposed that way back in the 1980s. We proposed the exchange between Hungary and Canada. We don’t need Open Skies anymore, Sergey, because we have verification from space, we don’t need to have that particular treaty. So, if it goes by the wayside, I’m not that concerned. What I really liked, and I’ll end, is your stuff which Fred was talking about, which is the prevention of incidents at sea and in space, in airspace above the sea, and also space. I thought you were going in an excellent direction there. And then on focusing on the Baltic region, which Al was pointing to, which is also important. And this idea of exchanging information on snap military exercises. There’s a lot of stuff in there. And I just I think it’s great. Confidence-building measures on and on it goes it’s super.

Frederic Pearson  

I think they do inform each other, Erika. I think they do inform each other now about exercises.

Erika Simpson  

Yes, of course, you do. Yeah. And in the eastern Mediterranean, they have to because of Turkey and Greece, I’m sure that behind the scenes – we don’t know what they’re doing. But on his list of all the things that they want to do, including the NATO-Russia Founding Act to strengthen it, that all makes sense. It all makes total sense. And I don’t see why we can’t forge ahead by June. And in the next three years, why we can’t even introduce more things that Alan is working on, like no-first-use, and also talking about the TPNW… the Ban Treaty. So those are all even further steps that we can optimistically take forward, because like Stoltenberg said last night, we’re in a new er now. I mean, we were in the Cold War, there’s no question, and we’re still in it. But we’re in a new Biden era. And I’m very, very optimistic.

Frederic Pearson  

I like to put in a big plug for the OSCE.

Erika Simpson  

Yeah.

Frederic Pearson  

I think it was one of the best institutions ever established for the security of Europe. I think Sergey probably had a role in that, if the times were remembered, or he knows people who did. And that is a stabilizing agency if there ever is one, where dialogue at the political level can take place and must take place.

Alyn Ware  

Back to that, because that’s really important. If it wasn’t for that OSCE, I think that the Ukraine-Russia conflict would have spiraled out of hand. It was under the OSCE that Minsk Negotiations, and then the monitoring and verification of those. And it hasn’t resolved the conflict, but it’s helped to manage that. It’s also helped to manage other conflicts. It’s set up on a common-security framework. So, it’s a way that you can actually engage the different parties, without one feeling inferior or threatened by the other. That’s a really important framework, which gives it one advantage over NATO as being like a negotiating framework with Russia. The problem is we don’t have enough political support for it. There’s not enough high level, you know, Prime Ministers, Foreign Ministers saying we need to give more emphasis to the OSCE. We need more parliamentary support for it also, so that it’s used and strengthened – and also comes part of the common consciousness that this is a way of building security through common-security mechanisms, not just through building up defensive military and balancing forces of defensive military systems. So, I totally agree, and I’d huge plug for the OSCE.

Alvin Saperstein  

Can you remind me what those initials stand for?

Frederic Pearson  

Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Erika Simpson

Which only got a very short sentence in your report, and then you followed it right up right away with hotlines. You wanted more hotlines in the Baltics, which I think is a great idea too. But, I mean Alyn is pushing for the OSCE and in your report, it got much less emphasis compared to NATO-Russia Founding Act and bringing in the SACEUR and hotlines and so on. Those are all good ideas too. 

Sergey Rogov  

Actually, we are going to discuss about how to use the OSCE, at one of our next meetings in our group. Metta, I want to respond to some of the points made by the colleagues.

Metta Spencer  

Yes, by all means.

Sergey Rogov  

I think we face a window of opportunity right now. But if we don’t move forward fast enough, the window will close. And let me try to clarify some of the points, which were mentioned by Frederic and others. MIL-to-MIL [potential Russian term for Military General or Russian Armed Forces] context – several times a year the Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces and the SACEUR meet. But at the lower levels, there are practically no contacts at all. And of course, we’re big guys. They talk about big things, then we need to agree to it. Which is absolutely necessary if you want to prevent incidents? They don’t go into the details. Yes, there are still now, the agreements negotiated during the Cold War, like 1973 Agreement on Prevention of Accidents at Sea. But apparently, both sides seem to be forgetting them. And one big problem here is that the United States several years ago, resumed the fights of the fighter-bombers near Russian territory. Russia responded, so our fighter-bombers are also flying near Alaska. But American fighter-bombers in the last several months, did some very dangerous things, like flying around Kaliningrad, flying over the Ukraine, and right now, the United States is moving some of its heavy bombers to an airbase in Norway. This is something which is an invitation for big, big trouble. And that’s why we need to resume what we had 20 years ago when there was a big Russian military liaison group in Brussels and NATO group in Moscow. They are practically eliminated. We have to do that. As far as de-alerting is concerned, the decision on de-alerting was never made. In 1991, President George Bush Sr. stopped the heavy bomber flights around the State of the Soviet Union. But this decision was reversed by the Trump administration. And de-alerting – Bruce Blair, who unfortunately is gone – was pushing for this idea for quite a long time. But this is an idea which is rather difficult to implement for several reasons. One of them is that with solid-fuel missiles it’s possible to do that, but with liquid-fuel missiles it’s impossible, because Russian liquid fuel missiles operate as a comprehensive system. So, you have to – knock on wood – to remove the warhead, but remove the liquid fuel, which – if we use the term of the New Start Treaty – will make this missile “undeployed.” And there was a huge debate with that you have to better concentrate on the need to reduce the number of deployed weapons, deployed ICBM [unclear audio – potentially “centers”] instead of talking about de-alerting, because de-alerting is rejected both by American Strategic Command and by Russian Strategic Missile Forces as a very risky idea. And no-first-use, Leonard Brezhnev in 1983 declared no-first-use, which was not believed by the United States and later, but in 1993, the Russian Federation gave up the no-first-use pledge, because the conventional bombs had changed so drastically. And the Soviet Union had conventional, huge conventional superiority in Europe. Today, it’s just the opposite situation. And Russian military doctrine speaks about two scenarios when Russia can use nuclear weapons. One is when we’re attacked by a nuclear-weapon state(s) with nuclear weapons. And another when as a result of a conventional aggression, the very existence of the Russian state is at risk. It’s not clarified what is “at risk.” But remember, the Napoleon invasion when Napoleon occupied Moscow? The building of our Institute is one of 100 buildings which survived the Great Fire of Moscow of 1812. Unlike the White House and the United States, our building survived. And Hitler, in 1941, he was stopped right near Moscow. My dacha – summer house – is on the front line where Nazis were stopped by the Red Army in December of 1941. So well, Russia is concerned about the conventional superiority, and the United States never made the pledge of no first use. And it will not make such a pledge. Biden spoke about the sole purpose of nuclear weapons. But —

Erika Simpson  

I’m just going to interrupt — because I think this story that the Russians tell us about the threat from a land-based attack is very true. That’s the generation that thinks that, but that’s preventing you from seeing the beauty of de-alerting, because you’re focused on the idea that we can’t separate the liquid-fuel from the missile-carriers, when we have a strategic triad. Not me, Canada – but you, USSR and Russia, you have submarines, so you have a secure second-strike. So you can take the missile, you can take the land-based missiles apart, and you can have a delayed… this is what we’re all talking about, is delayed deterrence. 

Frederic Pearson  

And I think that maybe Alyn could add on this, but it’s my understanding that at OSCE they have taken up the questions of conventional arms balance in Europe and that it may be a topic that can be “confidence-built”, shall we say, so that we don’t have to think about reliving Napoleon and Hitler.

Erika Simpson  

Yeah, we’re not gonna do that, again, that land-based dialogue, just toss that out… toss it. And think about space and the ocean, and then we’re secure. Like, we’re secure in the sense that deterrence will work with subs. I’m not an advocate of submarines whatsoever. I’m sad that India’s getting them. But anyway, Alyn, you can speak to this as well.

Frederic Pearson  

And as long as we can keep our capital out of certain hands, there won’t be a Hitler over here, I think.

Alvin Saperstein  

 (laughs) 

Sergey Rogov  

I’m not so sure.

Erika Simpson  

Well, I didn’t say that, you said that. (chuckles)

Metta Spencer  

Sergey, you said that the US will not adopt a no-first-use policy. I’m not so sure. I just had a conversation with somebody from the Union of Concerned Scientists in Tokyo, who says that the Japanese government is turning somersaults trying to keep the US from adopting a no-first-use policy. That he’s… they call it sole-purpose, which is, I guess, the same thing. But, and you mentioned that, but that beforehand, some time ago, that Biden had indicated that he was in favor of such a thing. Actually, I think Obama had said that —

Erika Simpson  

He’s on record saying he’s in favor of it, in that Foreign Affairs article, he said that he’s not in favor, but he said he’d think about it, right? 

Metta Spencer  

Well now… he could do that without having to go through the Senate because it’s not a treaty. I think he could just declare it, couldn’t he, all by himself?

Sergey Rogov  

The problem is extended deterrence. And Japan, South Korea, Poland, the Baltic States, other NATO members. They don’t want the United States to adopt the no-first-use. And today – please correct me if I’m mistaken – I believe that about them, trying to reassure the American military is about American commitment. He didn’t mention no-first-use, he didn’t mention the sole-purpose. But let me just add a few more footnotes. The situation when precision guidance weapons are developed very quickly, many of them can attack and destroy the strategic targets, which until recently was possible to destroy only by nuclear weapons. And while Russia today is ahead in development of hypersonic missiles, the US is catching up very quickly. And the serious concern, at least for me, is that the Strategic Command in the United States, STRATCOM talks with Admiral Richard again last week talked about integrating nuclear and non-nuclear strategic weapons. And this is something which makes nuclear war quite possible. Now, about launch-on-warming: Russian military doctrine does not use this term. But the Russian position is that we can launch our nuclear weapons when three conditions are met: when our early warning systems find that the opponent launched his missiles; certainly, when our early warning systems can calculate the trajectories of the missiles; and the third precondition is when we can calculate what and which targets will be destroyed. Only after that, we will launch our missiles. All that requires 20-25 minutes, something like that. But if intermediate-range missiles are deployed in Baltic States and in Poland, there will be no time to do that. And that can lead to a pre-emptive strike. That’s why you have to move the… 

Saperstein  

Sorry… This argument takes us back many years to the origin of the Intermediate Missiles Treaty. Let me remind you, the same arguments we use, the Soviets had the SS-20, and only after the SS-20 was installed, that we will be countered with the Pershing. And the idea was, as far as I can tell, the SS-20 was installed as a way of threatening Europe without threatening the US, so that the US would stay out of it. And the way of the US saying that we’re not staying out of it was to installed the Pershing. The result of that was scary for both sides, and some rationality finally surfaced and they had the Intermediate Missile Treaty. Why the Intermediate Missile Treaty was abolished is still beyond me. It’s not clear to me who abolished it. We claim that the Soviets, the Russians abolished it. You claim that the US abolished it. I’m not sure. All I know maybe it would be a damn good idea if we went back to that.  

Frederic Pearson  

I think we claim that the Russians violated it and then we withdrew from it, which is not good for either.

Erika Simpson  

Violated it by… [unclear audio – panelists speaking over each other.] 

Frederic Pearson  

… by the hypersonic…. 

Alvin Saperstein  

It would be a very good idea to somehow go back to that [treaty].

Frederic Pearson  

I’d like to offer the number 30 as an interesting theme here. For one thing, it’s very complicated to get the US Senate to support anything. But it’s also complicated to get NATO unified to support anything either, because it has to be a unanimous decision by 30 countries. So, this is a stumbling block, maybe in negotiations with using NATO as the base. I don’t know. The other 30 I was going to suggest, which does get at Sergey’s point about Russia being invaded in a way, is that we read in an article recently in Foreign Policy magazine that 30% of the western publics, in western countries, seem amenable to authoritarian rule. And that includes the United States, unfortunately. So, we have to be on guard and watch out for this problem. But of course, Russia itself is subject to the potential and the realities of authoritarianism, still. 

Sergey Rogov  

Of course.

Frederic Pearson  

And doesn’t know that the the application of this.

Alyn Ware  

I just want to swing out a little bit on because I think, you know, Sergey, is quite correct with regards to resistance from NATO states, particularly the ones close to Russia, Baltic states, and particularly from the defense establishment from those countries. And also, we’ve heard that there is, you know, opposition from defense establishments and Japan and South Korea to the idea of no-first-use, but we should not just look to the defense establishment as the ones making the policy. You know, policies are a mix of the input of the defense establishment, the foreign ministries, the administrations, and also, you know, the role of parliamentarians and campaigns and civil society. There’s a mix of those. And in some of these, there can be, I think, a shift when there is stronger political input from the foreign ministries and from the parliaments. And that can, as well as, alongside that, the reaffirmation that the Biden Administration has given to NATO partners for support in non- nuclear ways. This was something which Obama started in his Nuclear Posture Review, but it didn’t go very far. And I think this is something which Biden will pick up again, in his Nuclear Posture Review. How can the US provide non-nuclear support for the allied countries to help build the confidence in some of these steps for no-first-use, for example, or sole-purpose, reducing the role of nuclear weapons? Of course, it will need support. But we’ve already seen that some of that support is here, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly has already unanimously supported the idea of no-first-use. And this is, you know, parliamentary representatives from Russia and the United States and all the European and NATO Parliaments. Now they weren’t the defense establishment there. I mean, these were more the political parliamentarians. But the fact that there is there’s some resonance for it, and there’s some support, gives opportunities. So, I don’t see that it’s like a done deal either way. I don’t see that we’re going to get it, you know, from the Obama, I mean Biden, administration. Nor do I see that as a lost cause. I think there is more of the political aspects of security that are coming into this, not just the military aspects. And I think political aspects of the security have been highlighted by the pandemic. There’s a much greater awareness that we need to build cooperative mechanisms, security, that deal with issues like the pandemic; that deals with economic issues; that deal with issues by the climate, that can’t really be addressed by military confrontation and balance of military forces. So, I think there are some opportunities to take this forward.

 

Alvin Saperstein  

Alyn, can you give me some insight as to why some of these American allies are against no-first-use? I mean, to me no-first-use is the most sensible, immediate step that certainly the United States could take. And it strikes me that we could probably persuade the American public to go for it. Why are these? Why are these militaries against it?

 

Alyn Ware  

So you have, as Sergey mentioned, you have Baltic states concerned about Russian aggression. And that if you don’t have the threat of first-use of nuclear weapons to deter Russia, there could be aggressive military action. That’s there. And Japan and South Korea, they have the concern about North Korean action. And so, there is belief, in the defense establishment, that you need the threat of first-use of nuclear weapons to deter North Korea. So that’s coming from a very military security framework. 

(unclear audio – panelists talking over each other; phone ringing in background.) 

Alvin Saperstein  

So, we’re told that a non-nuclear military forces on the American, on “our side”, are sufficiently strong. So why this fear? Why the necessity of nukes?

Metta Spencer  

That is very much bigger question that I think we’re going to address now.

Erika Simpson  

Can I just say something, Metta? I just want to…  

Sergey Rogov  

Let me make several points. 

Metta Spencer  

Eand certainly Sergei, yeah.

Erika Simpson  

Well, Sergey, I just want to congratulate you again on the report, because you do draw attention to the need to address tactical mid-range systems.  And your report, it’s excellent. It talks about the Baltic area; Poland, the Poles, always wanting to brandish nuclear weapons. So I think I really want to emphasize that — that part of the report, I think… there’ll be a lot of attention paid at NATO and also at the OSCE to those initiatives in the Baltics and also focusing more on the Baltic region. It is a big problem. It’s been a problem since Al was talking about since they wanted the Pershing and they wanted it to reassure them, they don’t need that…  we can have low… down the ladder of escalation. We can have troops in Poland, that’s what they’re talking about. Troops in — 10,000 troops and so on, that they will always be afraid of the Russian bear. But tactical nuclear weapons…

Frederic Pearson  

You have to be careful because you don’t want to make it clear…  make it look like you’re planning a Hitlerian invasion of Russia either.

Erika Simpson  

That’s true. Touché, touché.

Sergey Rogov  

There are some people in the United States who are concerned that Pearl Harbour can happen again, you know. So well, it’s not surprising that many people in Russia remember June 22 1941 [Operation Barbarossa – the Nazi German invasion of the Soviet Union]. Several, several qualifications. First of all, the intermediate range-missiles were deployed in Europe in 1959, the Jupiter missiles in 1959, in Turkey and Italy. And Khrushchev responded by deploying Soviet intermediate-range missiles in Cuba.

Alvin Saperstein  

Right.

Sergey Rogov  

Now we know what happened. Second point, speaking about no-first-use, there are three nuclear weapon states, which are members of NATO. Why the British and the French don’t adopt no-first-use position? They’re not afraid of Russian invasion. So what’s, what’s the reason why they refuse to do it? This is a serious question, because for Russia NATO forces, in group view, all NATO members, including three nuclear-power states, we count British and French nuclear warheads, together with American forward-based weapons. The next point concerns the OSCE. We want to discuss how the OSCE could be used to understand that they could arrange more Russian-Western military discussions. But realistically speaking, and Erika I think mentioned, why there is only one sentence about the OSCE. Right? You mentioned this, there is only one sentence. I have to confess it’s my fault. Thirty years ago, I was promoting OSCE as the new security architecture in Europe, instead of the Warsaw Pact and NATO. And that didn’t happen.

Erika Simpson  

Yeah.

Sergey Rogov  

 So OSCE to my mind is a very vegetarian organization. Where is the beef?

Erika Simpson  

Vegetarian? I’m a vegetarian.

Sergey Rogov  

Vegetarian. Take ‘beef’ as in, political and military ‘beef’ as in NATO and economic ‘beef’ is the European Union. So, Russia does belong to the OSCE, but Russia is not a member of NATO and the European Union. And, first of all, it’s ridiculous to think about parity between Russia and NATO. The difference is huge: 1 billion citizens living in NATO countries and 140 million in Russia. The gross domestic product of the NATO countries is huge, 20 times bigger than the Russian gross domestic product. The defense expenditures, the military expenditures of NATO are 25 times bigger than Russia. And in this situation, it’s very difficult for people like me to argue for Russia to adopt no-first-use nuclear policy; to adopt de-alerting; and make some other things which, to my mind, are quite rational. But in Russia, the dominant mode today — like in the West, in the West, it’s suspicion of Russia — and in Russia, it’s suspicion of the West. And that’s why I’m concentrating on what I call “zero agenda.” The arms control confidence- building measures, risk reduction measures. I simply try to avoid discussing very serious and very important political questions, which I’m afraid are not going to be resolved, like Ukraine or Georgia, for quite a long time. But there are some other opportunities for instance, Nagorno-Karabakh, the war there. In my view, Russia and the United States and NATO could cooperate there. We failed to do it, so the war happened. But now there is a very interesting situation when it made a NATO member today deployed some of its troops in Azerbaijan. So, one can speculate about a scenario when Turkey may be directly involved in the military fight with Armenia, and Russia is a military ally to Armenia. We have no commitment to protect Nagorno-Karabakh because we never recognized it as a separate territory from Azerbaijan, but we have a commitment to defend Armenia. So, if we think about scenarios like that, we can conclude that we can go beyond the arms-control measures and into military-political cooperation in dealing with problems like Nagorno-Karabakh and others.

Metta Spencer  

We certainly appreciate the fact that you’ve given us your time today. It’s been extremely stimulating. And we’re coming to the end now, we must wind up. And I guess you started off with the most pessimistic projection of any of us, which I guess most of us have to bear in mind that you may be right. But other people have expressed hope that the Biden administration may be more willing to make changes than I think you anticipate. Does anyone want to add… 

Sergey Rogov  

I hope it will! Simply, I’m not sure.

Metta Spencer  

Yeah, okay, well, let’s just keep our fingers crossed. 

Frederic Pearson  

I just was gonna say that although Russia may be behind the population level of NATO and EU, no other country has 11 time zones.

Metta Spencer  

(chuckles) I guess you can take pride in that.

Sergey Rogov  

Let me finish with an idiom, an old Russian wisdom:  Those who don’t smoke and don’t drink die absolutely healthy. 

Metta Spencer  

It’s been wonderful. Thank you so much, and we have so much work ahead of us.

Sergey Rogov  

Thank-you. It was my pleasure.

Metta Spencer  

It’s terrific. Thank you all.

Sergey Rogov  

Bye, bye now.

Metta Spencer  

We’ll be back in touch.

Frederic Pearson  

Thank you all.