Yuri Shafranik relates his part in keeping the peace at all costs


‘Breaking Barriers in United States-Russia Relations: The Power and Promise of Citizen Diplomacy’ by Philip D. Stewart (Pub. Kettering Foundation). Foreword by Yuri Shafranik; contributions from Irina Zvyagelskaya, Vitaly Naumkin and Elie Peltz.

Yuri Shafranik, co-chair of the Dartmouth Conference, former Energy Minister and diplomat, will tell you that there are many lessons which may be learned from the peace-making delegations of the Dartmouth Conference over its 60-year history. 

Lessons perhaps to be remembered even more now than ever before as frictions in nuclear armaments between the US and Russia, indeed around the world, have escalated to levels not seen since the end of the Cold War, exactly 20 years ago. 

Siberian-born Shafranik, energy expert and Doctor of Economics, first engaged with the Dartmouth Conference two decades ago. Once delegate and more latterly as its co-chair, Yuri Shafranik can tell you much about US-Russian Cold War détente – and does so in an anecdotally rich foreword to Dr Philip Stewart’s new book.

Yuri Shafranik’s dialogue in the first few pages of ‘Breaking Barriers in United States-Russia Relations: The Power and Promise of Citizen Diplomacy’ perhaps echo that of Benjamin Franklin, who in turn was quoting a Talmudic aphorism, when he said, “A word to the wise is enough.” We rely on the wisdom of our leaders not to bring us to catastrophe and destruction.

To quote Yuri Shafranik in the book’s foreword: “I remain sincere in my efforts to promote the restart of Russian-American relations for the benefit of our two peoples. It is necessary to preserve and deepen the existing co-operation in the fields of medicine, science, education, culture, and business and to create greater mutual understanding in the field of military-political relations.” 

Shafranik continues: “I think that the international community is also not interested in maintaining the continuing crisis in the interaction of our countries in the military and political spheres since global security and strategic stability directly depend on this. Disarmament is the antithesis of the arms race, which is fraught with the potential for uncontrolled descent to a catastrophic nuclear point of no return.” 

Besides the good work of the Dartmouth Conference, there are steps for the long-term the US can take to generate co-operation and mutually beneficial dialogue with Russia in what needs to be a joint effort to quash nuclear threats wherever they appear. Washington, working with Moscow, will have to assemble teams capable of producing a new era of arms control and non-proliferation agreements. To start and restart peacekeeping dialogues and extinguish longstanding grievances, establishing treaty compliance, and dispersing confusion about each other’s doctrines relating to nuclear use and missile defence. 

Deep discussions and discourse over nuclear matters need to be injected with fresh air and new ideas and not be afraid to tackle futuristic threats like hypersonic weapons and utilising AI in strategic command systems. 

These discussions should not be sporadic but as regular as circumstances dictate, nor should they be forums for a malaise in churning up past grievances; rather they should be bold, creative and positive thinking about the future of both arms control and the harmonious survival of our own humanity.

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