US-Russia Relations and Reduction of Nuclear Weapons

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Foreign relations between the US and Russia have been marred with suspicion and hostility concerning the stances taken by each country on different global issues. Nevertheless, the two countries have maintained strong bilateral relations for several decades after being involved in the Cold War. Conversely, the US-Russia relations have improved significantly in recent years, culminating in the signing of various treaties including the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START). Russia and the US have maintained bilateral relations since the late 1980s with the dissolution of the Soviet Union. However, with both countries wielding massive powers and influence over other nations around them, they have both been characterized as super power nations. This has made the relations between the two countries strained in some instances when they take different views on global issues. Nonetheless, both Russia and the US have shown considerable efforts to promote global peace and have joined together to eliminate the use of destructive weapons in the world. It is on this basis that the two countries continue to work together through frameworks such as the START treaties aimed at reducing nuclear weapons in the world.

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Collaboration between the US and Russia on reducing nuclear weapons has been necessitated by many different factors. For example, both Russia and the US are among the leading countries in terms of producing nuclear weapons. This has positioned the two nations at the helm of global power, giving them influence over the other countries (Cimbala, 11). Therefore, nuclear weapons are one of the areas where the two countries have mutual interest. Some countries are considered extremely dangerous if they are allowed to hold huge amounts of nuclear weapons. Besides, nuclear weapons themselves pose a great challenge to the human race. Therefore, it is in the best interest of the two leading global superpowers to work together to preserve the human race by moving towards eliminating nuclear weapons (Cimbala, 17).

The first START Treaty was signed in 1991 and came into force on December 5, 1994. The treaty was first proposed by the United States under the leadership of President Reagan in his 1982 address at the Eureka College (Cimbala, 7). However, when negotiations for the treaty began, there were numerous challenges that derailed the process from achieving any meaningful progress in the initial stages. For example, the USSR considered some of the demands or proposals by the US to be non-negotiable. For instance, the Strategic defense Initiative (SDI) proposed by the US was one of the contentious issues in the discussions. However, under Andrei Sakharovs advice, the USSR agreed to the terms of the negotiations and carried on with the negotiations leading to the signing of the treaty in May 1991 (Cimbala, 22).

The treaty also bound other smaller nations like Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan. These nations became non-nuclear weapon states during the implementation of the START treaty. The three countries had also pledged to abide by the Lisbon Treaty, which required them to relinquish their nuclear power after becoming independent states form the USSR. Therefore, they disposed of all their nuclear weapons and surrendered some to Russia.

The START was a bilateral agreement between the US and the USSR, which barred the signatories from deploying in excess of 6,000 nuclear warheads atop a total of 1,600 inter-continental ballistic missiles and bombers. This became one of the largest and most complex treaties to control arms in the history of the world. The treaty was largely successful since during its final stages of implementation, about 80% of all strategic nuclear weapons had been removed.

While it has largely been acclaimed for its impact on controlling nuclear weapons, the implementation of the treaty was marred by accusations and suspicions that either the US or Russia was not committed to implementing the agreement fully. For example, a report published by the US Department of Defense dubbed Adherence to and Compliance With Arms Control, Nonproliferation and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments, that was released in 2010 alleged that Russia was not in full compliance with the START treaty (Roberts, 8). However, the report did not go further to illustrate the specific issues that Russia had failed to comply with in the implementation process.

Ideally, the START treaty was meant to expire on December 5, 2009. However, since there was not any other framework in place for managing the situation, both Russia and the US agreed to continue working within the demands of the START treat until a new agreement was enacted (Roberts, 10). New discussions began in May 2009 for another set of agreements that would see the two countries reduce their nuclear weapons further (Purev-Ochir, 71). Consequently, there was a joint understanding between Russia and the US following START I. However; it was very difficult for the nations to arrive at a mutual agreement due to the suspicions and mistrust that existed concerning the implementation of the START I. consequently there were negotiations for START II, which was eventually never implemented and START III, which never had conclusive negotiations (Roberts, 15).

Nevertheless, the discussions took another turn with the introduction of the New START or formally known as the Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms. This was signed in Prague in 2010 (Purev-Ochir, 72). This is the current framework in place for regulating the use of nuclear weapons.

In conclusion, while the relations between the US and Russia have endured difficult periods, cooperation between the two superpowers had been seen as necessary in eliminating nuclear weapons. Both Russia and the US have maintained bilateral relations for a very long time despite episodes of mistrust, suspicion and the effects of the Cold War. Nonetheless, the countries have shown that they can collaborate on issues of mutual interest. For instance, elimination or reduction of nuclear power would ensure that only a few nations are able to remain with the powerful weapons and that the smaller nations will be checked to ensure that they do not take advantage of the nuclear weapons to propagate wars and cause unrest.

Works Cited

Cimbala, Stephen J. "Nuclear Arms Reductions After New START: Incremental Or Transformative?." Journal Of Slavic Military Studies 24.1 (2011): 1-25. Academic Search Complete. Web. 4 May 2015.

Purev-Ochir, Miga. "Us-Russian Relations In A Post-Cold War World." Harvard International Review 36.3 (2015): 72-76. Academic Search Complete. Web. 4 May 2015.

Roberts, Kari. "Detente 2.0? The Meaning Of Russia's 'Reset' With The United States." International Studies Perspectives 15.1 (2014): 1-18. Academic Search Complete. Web. 4 May 2015.

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