Doomed to failure: US-Russia BMD cooperation

Ingmar Zielke (KCL)




Despite a promising ‘reset’, missile defence has remained a thorny issue in US-Russia bilateral relations. Why have compromises and cooperation proved so difficult to achieve in the area of missile defence? What are genuine concerns from Russia’s side and what is mere rhetoric? This paper focuses on the evolution of US-Russian relations in the sphere of missile defence since the end of the Cold War and seeks to identify the main drivers of the ongoing irritations.

I find that there are two main stumbling blocks to deeper cooperation. First, despite bilateral projects in missile defence and Presidential agreements, actual cooperation ‘on the ground’ has shown the difficulties of cooperation on highly sensitive security issues. Second, the overall post-Cold War security architecture and Russia’s failure to integrate into a broader security framework has made cooperation very challenging. The European site of missile defence has consolidated the US presence in Europe while further alienating Russia. However, while progress will also depend on lower level, long-term US-Russian cooperation, with the US moving beyond its ‘unipolar moment’, system-level, structural pressures as well as domestic, political factors in the US could lead to a modest accommodation.


Mr. Ingmar Zielke

Ingmar holds a BA in Media Studies/Journalism, an MA in European Cultural Policies from the University of Warwick and an MSc in International and European Politics (Distinction) from the University of Edinburgh. Prior to his PhD at King’s College London he has worked at the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, Department of European and International Politics in Berlin and in London, and at the Consulate General of Germany in Edinburgh. Ingmar is a Konrad Adenauer Postgraduate Scholarship holder