Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the United States, Europe, and Russia have still yet to devise a stable, long-term security arrangement. In testimony before the Foreign Affairs Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, Dmitri Trenin argued that given the reset in U.S.–Russian relations, the time is ripe for these three major powers to devise a security architecture for a new century—one capable of maintaining peace and stability on the European continent throughout the years to come.

U.S. Policy Recommendations:

  • Sign and ratify the START follow-on treaty: The Obama administration has so far exercised care, tact, and patience in its dealings with Russia, which has done much to allay longstanding Russian fears. The United States should build on this promising foundation by signing and eventually ratifying a new START treaty. While not a cure-all for the U.S.-Russia relationship, such an agreement would represent an enormous step in the right direction.
     
  • Contemplate a joint U.S.–Russian–European missile defense system: By itself, no amount of strategic arms reduction is capable of altering the nature of the U.S.–Russian relationship. A possible game-changer, though, would be cooperation on missile defense. The United States should therefore seriously consider developing a joint U.S.–Russian–European missile defense system. Were such a system to be realized, it would tightly bind the United States, Russia, and Europe together and dramatically improve security cooperation.
     
  • Welcome and encourage Moscow’s moves to re-engage with its neighbors: In order to have better relations with the European Union as a whole, Moscow must first reassure the countries of Central and Eastern Europe about its intentions. Toward that end, Russia would do well to develop a habit of regular consultations with the Poles, just as they have already done with the Germans and the French. As an additional confidence-building measure, Russia should abstain from deploying additional armaments or engaging in military exercises near its borders with Poland, Belarus, and the Baltic states.

Trenin concludes, “The time to act is now, while U.S.–Russian relations are on the mend. As we know from experience, windows of opportunity do not remain open forever.”