MGIMO at the Arms Control Negotiations Academy

MGIMO at the Arms Control Negotiations Academy

18 January 2021

January 11th-16th, the second shift started at the Arms Control Negotiations Academy. MGIMO employees coordinated the work of the camp participants, reviewed their research and participated in the round table. The Russian Ambassador to the United States A.Antonov was the guest of honor of the event.

Welcoming the second cohort of participants, a member of the Executive Board of the Arms Control Negotiations Academy (ACONA) and MGIMO’s Vice-Rector for Research and International Cooperation A.Baykov spoke about how MGIMO and its partner organizations restructured the educational process, including within the framework of the Academy, to preserve the best features of university education even online, to implement best practices and meet students’ expectations.

The camp program was structured in such a way that the participants had the opportunity not only to listen to expert opinions on the latest processes in the field of arms control, but also present their own research. The work of the first cohort of the camp, which took place in August 2020, led to the creation of four international working groups. Each includes one representative from Russia, the United States, the EU and a group of other countries of the world and has for mission to perform research on specialized topics throughout the year. An Analyst of the Institute for International Studies A.Margoev curates the research program, advising the groups on research design and work methodology, as well as helping them conduct in-depth interviews with Russian experts.

One of the two reviews of “A Shared Road to Zero? Towards a Common Language of Nuclear Diplomacy” was presented by A.Baykov. As Editor-in-Chief of the journal "International Trends" (Scopus Q2), the researcher noted that the research program was fitting to the question posed, remarked upon the successful combination of quantitative and qualitative methods and suggested an updated formulation of the topic with new key research terms to avoid any confusion within the field arms control, but also within the wider academic community. A.Baykov expressed interest in seeing the final results of the team’s work in May 2021, when the third camp shift will take place.

A.Baklitsky, Senior Researcher at Institute for International Studies, shared his comments on the work “On Small States & Smart Tools: Empowering Cooperative Verification through Modern Technologies”. The expert noted that it is premature to develop a substantive discussion about methods of verification of nuclear disarmament in the absence of new agreements in this area. He also underlined the lack of interest of the members of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in the problem of verification of disarmament and recommended narrowing down the topic of the research to one of the ideas being worked out by the team: the possibilities of verifying a potential nuclear-free zone in Europe.

I.Istomin, Associate Professor of the Department of Applied Analysis of International Problems, Visiting Senior Researcher at the Catherine Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University, spoke at the round table on the topic “Diplomacy, Incentives and Coercion: Carrots and Sticks in International Negotiations”. The researcher explained why the “carrot and stick” paradigm for states motivated to develop and spread nuclear technologies, including military ones, has little impact on their policies. The leadership of such states is inclined to take risks as they do not see any other way of ensuring their national security in the context of a severe imbalance in the regional security system or pressure from one or several global powers.

The Ambassador of Russia to the United States A.Antonov spoke to the camp participants as an honorary guest of the Academy. As the head of the delegation at the negotiations on the last and only existing Russian-American treaty on the reduction of strategic offensive arms (START), A.Antonov described the obstacles that the internal political situation in the United States creates for further negotiations on strategic issues and about the prospects for control over weapons. The diplomat expressed confidence that if the US leadership has a genuine interest in this issue, it is possible not only to extend the START Treaty, but also to have a meaningful dialogue on the future architecture of arms control. According to him, Moscow is open to such a dialogue and has already transmitted its proposals to Washington through diplomatic channels.

ACONA’s international advisory board has for members the leading English translator M.Gorbacheva and the Head of the Department of International Relations and Contacts with the press of the Gorbachev Fund P.Palazhchenko, the Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Head of the Center for International Security of the Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO) A.Arbatov, the former US Deputy Secretary of State and Head of the delegation at the START negotiations R.Gottemeler, the Director of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, foreign member of the Russian Academy of Sciences W.Potter, the member of the Executive Council of ACONA and Deputy Director of the Center for Comprehensive European and International Studies (CCEMI) of the Higher School of Economics D.Suslov and the member of the House of Lords of Great Britain Baroness K.Ashton, who negotiated Iran's nuclear program as the European Union's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

A.Baykov emphasized the fact that “MGIMO’s full-fledged participation in the Academy of Arms Control Negotiations is a contribution to the University’s international cooperation in a key area for Russian foreign policy. MGIMO is justifiably proud of its own traditions in this area: a graduate of the first cohort of students of the University, R.Timerbaev, was the leading negotiator of the Soviet delegation at the discussions on the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Timerbaev's legacy is preserved and further developed by the PIR Center, a leading Russian research center, with which MGIMO has been implementing a double degree master's program in nuclear nonproliferation for five years, the only one in the world in this area."

The Vice-Rector's line of thought was continued by the graduate of the first cohort of this program, A.Margoev, co-author of the article "Education in the field of nuclear non-proliferation: interests and potential of Russia” and chapters in a special issue of the non-recurrent publication of the UN Office for Disarmament on educational formats that would make the process of training young specialists in the field of non-proliferation and arms control more efficient. In an environment where international dialogue and cooperation is now hampered not only by the political climate, but also by the spread of the coronavirus, it is even more important to preserve and transfer the institutional experience of interaction to the next generation of specialists and build a dialogue between representatives of different countries at an early stage so that interaction is considered the norm in the nuclear sphere rather than a disastrous confrontation between nuclear powers.

The Arms Control Negotiation Academy is a joint educational project of the Negotiating Group of the Catherine Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University, the Woodrow Wilson Center's History and Public Policy Program (USA), the Frankfurt Peace Research Institute (FRG), the Reykjavik Peace Center Höfdi at the University of Iceland, MGIMO and the Higher School of Economics.

The project comprises a one-year curriculum: during three meetings, participants learn the history of arms control, get initiated with the technologies and practices of negotiation, and between them conduct research in mixed international groups. There were 16 participants in the first cohort - four from Russia, the USA, Europe and a group of other countries. The Russian participants in the program include some MGIMO graduates: A.Tugov (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia) and M.Chepurina (PC CTBTO), M.Roskoshnaya (Rusatom Service) and O.Krivolapov (ISK RAN).