There are two basic answers to your first question. First, the continuous alert coupling of Russian and American deterrent forces constitutes what is by far the largest physical threat to both societies and to the rest of the world as well. That operational configuration is not tolerably safe, and can only be rendered more so by coordinated action requiring mutual agreement. Second, the internal transformation of Russia, which began with the dissolution of the Soviet system, has not yet run its course. The outside world including, especially, the United States, has a much greater stake in the ultimate outcome than is currently realized and a much greater role to play than is currently understood.

As for what to do, the security agenda has natural priority. The immediate imperative requires the United States and NATO to convey credible reassurance regarding the inherent threat their advanced tactical air capability poses to Russia. Until that is accomplished, nothing else is likely to be effective.

John D. Steinbruner Director of the Center for International and Security Studies at the University of Maryland.

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