The renewed conflict between Russia and NATO has brought back security concerns over nuclear and conventional deterrence and defence in Europe. Since the days of the Cold War those two elements are closely intertwined, with direct ramifications on arms control policies. This article recalls the post-Cold War history of conventional arms control in Europe. It focuses on the underexplored impact of the US legislative during the mid-to-late-1990s. Relying on open sources from US Congress, the article traces the political standstill on conventional arms control to a crucial Congressional decision in the year 1997 which ultimately tied the future of this arms control regime to the solution of two protracted conflicts in the post-Soviet space. The article challenges the mainstream view that Russia is solely to blame for the dissolution of conventional arms control and concludes that without solving the standstill, nuclear arms control for Europe will as well remain deadlocked.

Ulrich Kühn
Ulrich Kühn is a nonresident scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and the head of the arms control and emerging technologies program at the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy at the University of Hamburg.
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