The United States’ failure to ratify the New START treaty would send the message to Moscow that the United States is not a reliable partner, empowering the “hawks” in the Russian political and military establishments who look for any opportunity to make the argument that the Obama administration’s engagement policy is a cover-up for the U.S. strategic intention of weakening Russia. Such a move would obliterate any sense of trust between the two countries, closing off channels of communication and making impossible dialogue on issues critical to U.S. national security. The most immediate concern is the U.S. mission in Afghanistan: rejection could lead Russia to cease its facilitation of the massive logistical operations needed to supply our forces there. About 30 percent of nonlethal material to support our troops in Afghanistan currently goes through or over Russian territory. The climate of antagonism that would result from rejection would put this at risk.
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