Russian aggression in Ukraine and nuclear saber rattling are jeopardizing the very global nonproliferation efforts that this week’s Nuclear Security Summit in Washington seeks to further. Moscow’s actions deserve a stronger response than they have received, not least to deter potential proliferators and reduce the risk of nuclear terrorism.

In some respects, Russia has been a responsible nuclear steward. Contrary to fears, no former Soviet nuclear weapon is known to have gone missing. During and after the Soviet collapse in 1991, Russia, with US help, removed nuclear weapons from every former Soviet republic. The Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program and other U.S. initiatives have helped Russia dismantle nuclear missile silos, bombers and submarines; improve the security of nuclear weapons; and install technology to detect nuclear smuggling. The scale of these US-Russian cooperative endeavors has only one parallel—US aid to the Soviet Union under the Lend-Lease Act, which was the principal means for providing aid to foreign countries during World War II. Today, Russia and America co-lead the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, a voluntary partnership of eighty-six nations and five international organizations, and have concluded accords to reduce strategic nuclear forces.

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Related Experts: John E. Herbst