Assessing Russian reactions to U.S. missile defense
Baze, Michael Wayne.
Yost, David S.
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The United States government intends to deploy strategic missile defense (MD) capabilities to address an emerging ballistic missile threat. Many opponents of MD have argued that this deployment will incite arms races. This could pose a serious threat to U.S. national security. This thesis employs arms race theory as an analytical framework to assess the potential implications of U.S. MD deploymentâ focusing in particular on the likelihood of arms competition with Russia. Two questions are explored. First, what drives Russian reactions to U.S. MD? Second, what are Russian capabilities to engage in arms competitions? Perceptions of U.S. unilateralism play a significant role in Russian leadersÎ± assessments of MD. Russian concerns, however, appear to be dominated by prestige considerations and perceptions of diminishing superpower status. Although Russia possesses some ability to engage America in arms competition, its economic limitations are severe. By enhancing understanding of potential Russian reactions to U.S. MD, this thesis identifies ways to minimize the potential for arms competition. The thesis concludes with an analysis of policy options as America moves forward with MD.
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