Columbia International Affairs Online: Policy Briefs

CIAO DATE: 08/2014

Mutually Assured Stability: Establishing US-Russia Security Relations for a New Century

Celeste Wallander

July 2013

Atlantic Council


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.

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.