Russian decision-making and options regarding US National Missile Defense
Wright, Eric K.
Yost, David S.
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This thesis analyzes Russian policy regarding prospective U.S. decisions on the deployment of a limited National Missile Defense (NMD) system. Russia's critical position on U.S. NMD is a product of its security concerns, desire for national prestige, and sense of pragmatism. Russia's responses to date-attempts to influence international opinion and the policies of foreign governments against U.S. NMD-reflect these concerns and the limits of Russia's economic and military power. Russia's apparent strategy is threefold: to engage in sharp rhetoric with the United States about NMD, while not crossing the line of an embarrassing showdownto capitalize on America's unwillingness to assert its predominance in world affairsand to persuade the West to subsidize the Russian economy in order to allay its own fears of instability in Russia. Russia's options are to accept the ABM Treaty modifications requested by the United States and thereby legitimize U.S. NMD under the treaty or to refuse such modifications, in which case Washington may exercise its legal option to withdraw from the treaty. In either case, Russia will seek to charge America a high political price for pursuing NMD. Russia's nuclear arsenal and potential for political upheaval suggest that it is in the U.S. interest to promote stability in Russia, while considering how to redefine its strategic nuclear relationship with Russia.
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