Avoiding nuclear war. Problems of escalation/de-escalation of armed conflicts when approaching the “nuclear threshold”

Avoiding nuclear war. Problems of escalation/de-escalation of armed conflicts when approaching the “nuclear threshold”


Baranovsky V.G.,

MGIMO University, Moscow, Russia; Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia, baranovsky@imemo.ru


elibrary_id: 627742 |

Buzhinsky E.P.,

MGIMO University, Moscow, Russia; Russian International Affairs Council, Moscow, Russia; PIR-Center, Moscow, Russia; HSE University, Moscow, Russia; Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia, buzhinsky@pircenter.org

Zagorsky A.V.,

MGIMO University, Moscow, Russia; Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia, zagorskiandrei@gmail.com

Nikitin A.I.,

MGIMO University, Moscow, Russia; Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia; HSE University, Moscow, Russia; Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia; Russian Political Science Association, Moscow, Russia, an@inno.mgimo.ru


elibrary_id: 637132 |

Oznobishchev S.K.,

MGIMO University, Moscow, Russia; Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia, serko96@gmail.com


elibrary_id: 251323 |

Article received: 2022.07.04. Accepted: 2022.08.09
DOI: 10.17976/jpps/2022.06.09

For citation:

Baranovsky V.G., Buzhinsky E.P., Zagorsky A.V., Nikitin A.I., Oznobishchev S.K. Avoiding nuclear war. Problems of escalation/de-escalation of armed conflicts when approaching the “nuclear threshold”. – Polis. Political Studies. 2022. No. 6. P. 114-134. (In Russ.). https://doi.org/10.17976/jpps/2022.06.09


The article has been prepared in the framework of the MGIMO grant project “Systemic Advancement of the International Activities of the MGIMO Institute for International Studies” (Project 2022-02-02, project chaired by A. Nikitin) and presents main findings of the Analytical Report elaborated within this project.


Abstract

Several historic international conflicts, considered in the article, have presented a risk of nuclear weapons being used. The authors analyze and systematize factors and methods that allowed the sides to prevent the escalation of such conflicts to the “nuclear threshold” and avoid the risk of catastrophic consequences linked to passing such a “threshold”. The opportunity and probability of avoiding a nuclear escalation that is caused by unintended or unsanctioned actions, human and technical mistakes, malfunctions, wrong interpretations of the actions of the potential adversary are discussed. The authors review existing mechanisms of de-escalation of military-political incidents and analyse the complex of confidence-building and security assuring measures. Their validity and applicability in modern conditions are considered through a study of the current tense situation in Russia’s relations with the West/NATO, as well as in a long-term (in scale of decades) perspective. 

Keywords
nuclear weapons, escalation, de-escalation, armed conflicts, “nuclear threshold”, NATO, confidence building measures, international security.


References

 

Acton, J. (2018). Escalation through entanglement: how the vulnerability of command-and-control systems raises the risks of an inadvertent nuclear war. International Security, 43(1), 56-99. https://doi. org/10.1162/isec_a_00320

Arbatov, A., Dvorkin, V., & Topychkanov, P. (2017). Entanglement as a new security threat: a Russian perspective. In: J. Acton (Ed.), Entanglement. Russian and Chinese Perspectives on Non-Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear Risks (pp. 11-46). Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Lissner, R.F. (2017). Assessing the nuclear lessons of the First Gulf War. In: M. Cancian (Ed.), Project on Nuclear Issues: A Collection of Papers from the 2016 Nuclear Scholars Initiative and PONI Conference Series (pp. 57-69). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

Norris, R., & Kristensen, H. (2010). Global nuclear weapons inventories, 1945-2010. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 66(4), 77-83. https://doi.org/10.2968/066004008

Norris, R., & Kristensen, H. (2012). The Cuban missile crisis: a nuclear order of battle, October and November 1962. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 68(6), 85-91. https://doi.org/10.1177/0096340212464364

O’Rourke, R. (2020) U.S.–China strategic competition in South and East China seas: background and issues for Congress. Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service.

Robock, А., Toon, O., Bardeen, C., Xia, L., Kristensen, H., McKinzie, M., Peterson, R., Harrison, C., Lovenduski, N., & Turco, R. (2019). How an India-Pakistan nuclear war could start – and have global consequences. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. 75(6), 273-279, https://doi.org/10.1080/00963402.2019.1680049

Roy-Chaudhury, R. (2009). India’s nuclear doctrine: a critical analysis. Strategic Analysis, 33(3), 404-414, https://doi.org/10.1080/09700160902790084

Schmidt, H.-J. (2013). Verified transparency. New conceptual ideas for conventional arms control in Europe. PRIF Report No. 119. Frankfurt am Main: PRIF.

Schwartz, R.A. (1998). Encyclopedia of the Persian Gulf War. Jefferson, NC: McFarland.

 

Kuhn, U., Thielmann, G., & Zagorski, A. (Ed.). (2016). Otkaz ot konfrontatsii: Vozvraschenie k sderzhannosti i dialogu mezhdu Rossiey i Zapadom [Back from the brink: toward restraint and dialogue between Russia and the West]. 3rd Report of the Deep Cuts Commission. Hamburg: IFSH. (In Russ.)

Levshin, V.I., Nedelin, A.V., & Sosnovskiy, M.E. (1999). On employing nuclear weapons to de-escalate hostilities. Voennaya mysl’, 3, 34-37. (In Russ.)

 

Content No. 6, 2022

See also:


Arbatov A.G.,
Nuclear reloading and international security. – Polis. Political Studies. 2011. No3

Arbatov A.G.,
Doomsday Dialectics: the Arms Race with Arms Limitations. – Polis. Political Studies. 2019. No3

Sorokin K.E.,
Nuclear Weapons in the Era of Geopolitical Multipolarity. – Polis. Political Studies. 1995. No4


Virtual workshop: International politics and conflicts. – Polis. Political Studies. 2008. No2


Virtual workshop: International politics and conflicts. – Polis. Political Studies. 2007. No6

 

   

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