This Strategic Analysis issue brief, authored by Celeste Wallander, argues that the Mutually Assured Destruction concept which has dominated US-Russian security relations since the outset of the Cold War is neither an adequate nor cost-effective strategy to sustain stability in the twenty-first century. The optimal strategy for the United States and Russia is instead Mutually Assured Stability, a condition in which neither party has the intention or capability to exercise unilateral advantage over the other.

pdfDownload PDF

Wallander first outlines US and Russian concepts of strategic stability in the twentieth and twenty first century under the paradigm of Mutually Assured Destruction, including the political context of geopolitical political competition that defined that age. Wallander concludes that Mutually Assured Stability is the best concept for the United States and Russia to incorporate modern military technologies, emerging security challenges, and new geopolitical realities into their important bilateral partnership.

This Strategic Analysis is part of the Beyond the Reset initiative between the Atlantic Council and the Russia International Affairs Council aimed at strengthening relations between the United States, Europe, and Russia. The series focuses on changing the paradigm governing relations between the United States and Russia from the Cold War construct of Mutually Assured Destruction to Mutually Assured Stability, and in fostering US-Russian cooperation with other stakeholders in the Asia-Pacific.