In this Oslo Nuclear Project Roundtable, we discuss whether modern conventional military capabilities can supplant nuclear weapons for deterrent and warfighting purposes, and the future relationship between nuclear and conventional deterrence.  

Time and place: Jan. 13, 2021 2:30 PM–4:00 PM, CEST, Zoom

If you would like to participate in this online seminar, please register here. All participants will receive a Zoom invitation in advance.

In a new research paper published in the Journal of Strategic Studies (Russian nuclear strategy and conventional inferiority), Dr. Kristin Ven Bruusgaard argues that the conventional balance of forces directly impacts nuclear strategy, and describes how conventional deterrence increasingly plays a role in Russian deterrence strategy.

But can modern conventional capabilities supplant nuclear weapons for deterrent and warfighting purposes, and what will the relationship between nuclear and conventional deterrence be in the future? How do other states beyond Russia perceive of the utility of conventional versus nuclear deterrence?

The Oslo Nuclear Project is convening a roundtable discussion on how nuclear and conventional deterrence is evolving in the contemporary era. The conversation will focus on how different actors such as Russia, the United States and NATO make use of nuclear and conventional capabilities to deter adversaries and contemplate how emerging technologies affect the future of nuclear and conventional deterrence. The panel will include:

Kristin Ven Bruusgaard, Postdoctoral Fellow (Assistant Professor) of Political Science, University of Oslo  

Alexander Lanoszka, Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Waterloo, Canada

Andrew Futter, Professor of International Politics, University of Leicester, UK

Corentin Brustlein, Director of the Center of Security Studies, French Institute of International Relations (Ifri)

Speaker bios: 

Kristin Ven Bruusgaard is a Postdoctoral Fellow (Assistant Professor) of Political Science at the University of Oslo. Her research focuses on Soviet and Russian nuclear strategy, nuclear and conventional deterrence, and crisis dynamics. She has previously been a Nuclear Security Postdoctoral Fellow and a Stanton Nuclear Security Predoctoral Fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC), Stanford University, a Research Fellow at the Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies (IFS), and a senior security policy analyst in the Norwegian Armed Forces. She holds a Ph.D. in Defence Studies from King’s College London and an MA in Security Studies from Georgetown University and is a certified language officer in the Norwegian Army. Her work has been published in Security Dialogue, Journal of Strategic Studies, Survival, War on the Rocks, Texas National Security Review, and Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

Alexander Lanoszka is Assistant Professor of International Relations at the University of Waterloo. His research agenda encompasses international security, alliance politics, and theories of war, with special focus on Central and Northeastern Europe. He sits on the editorial board of the journal Contemporary Security Policy and is an Honorary Fellow at City, University of London, where he previously taught prior to coming to Waterloo. He held fellowships at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Dartmouth College upon finishing his PhD at Princeton University. He has published articles in such journals as International SecurityInternational AffairsSecurity Studies, and The Nonproliferation Review. His book Atomic Assurance: The Alliance Politics of Nuclear Proliferation (with Cornell University Press) examines how alliances can best deter, and reverse, efforts at nuclear proliferation by states that receive security guarantors from the United States.

Andrew Futter is Professor of International Politics, and former Director of Research for Politics and International Relations, at the University of Leicester, UK.  He has written widely on nuclear weapons issues and the impact of disruptive emerging technology, publishing seven books and dozens of peer reviewed and professional articles.  His most recent publication is the second edition of his “Politics of Nuclear Weapons” textbook (Palgrave 2020) and his most recent monograph is “Hacking the Bomb” (Georgetown 2018), which unpacks the cyber threat to nuclear weapons.  He is an Honorary Fellow at the Institute for Conflict, Cooperation and Security at the University of Birmingham and a member of the Cyber-Nuclear Threats Task Force run by the US-based Nuclear Threat Initiative.  Andrew was previously a Visiting Fellow at the Norwegian Nobel Pease Institute in Norway, the Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation in Washington DC, and the James Martin Centre for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, California, and a member of the Euro-Atlantic Next Generation Leaders Network.  He is currently working on a 5-year, £1.5million project funded by the European Research Council investigating the technological and political drivers of a shift towards a Third Nuclear Age.

Corentin Brustlein is the Director of the Security Studies Center at the French Institute of International Relations (Ifri). Before assuming this position in 2015, he had been the head of the institute’s Deterrence and Proliferation program. His areas of expertise include nuclear and conventional deterrence, strategic stability and arms control, U.S. and French defense policies, and force projection and conventional warfare. At Ifri, he is also the editor of the Proliferation Papers, and he has contributed since 2008 to the various activities conducted by the joint civil-military research unit established at Ifri (LRD). Dr. Brustlein holds a Ph.D. in political science from the Jean Moulin University of Lyon, and has taught strategic studies, strategic analysis, and international relations theory at Sciences Po Paris, the Jean Moulin University of Lyon, and other academic institutions. He blogs at Ultima Ratio.

Tags: Nuclear Weapons, Strategy, Security Studies, Military operation, Europe, Russia

Published Dec. 15, 2020 4:03 PM – Last modified Jan. 5, 2021 11:47 AM

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