The crisis in Georgia bluntly revealed the failure by the United States and Russia to create a closer working relationship after the Cold War. With both countries now in presidential transition, the potential for new misunderstandings and tensions grows even greater.
- Prevent the START treaty—due to expire in December 2009—from being swept away in the aftermath of the Georgia crisis. Immediate completion of a new treaty is unlikely—though both countries recognize the need for one. Extending START for five years, but agreeing to negotiate and ratify a replacement within one, is a realistic option that should be pursued.
- The Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty provides an opportunity for direct talks with all of the major players—NATO members, Russia, Georgia, and Ukraine. Confidence in Russia is deeply diminished following the Georgia crisis, but the treaty is a good way to begin slow and painful reengagement with the Russians towards a new system of security in Europe.
- Convene a commission of past presidents—U.S. and Russian—to resolve how to weave Russia and its security interests into the full fabric of European security.
Rose Gottemoeller is a specialist on defense and nuclear issues in Russia and the other former Soviet states whose research at the Endowment focuses on issues of nuclear security and stability, nonproliferation, and arms control. Before joining the Endowment in October 2000, Gottemoeller was deputy undersecretary for defense nuclear nonproliferation in the U.S. Department of Energy.