The United States and Russia are still engaged into several strategic arms control agreements. Among them: the 1991 Strategic Arms Reductions Treaty (START) and the 2002 Strategic Offensive Reduction Treaty (SORT, Moscow Treaty). The role of the bilateral strategic arms control faced dramatic change during last 40 years. Recently, due to the expiration of the START I in December 2009, the last chapter of this formerly central bilateral and, sometimes, global issue might be witnessed. The SORT, which will expire in May 2012, cannot exist without START verification provisions. Therefore, abolition of the START without negotiating another follow-on agreement could transform the 2002 Moscow Treaty into meaningless legally binding declaration of intentions.
For four decades, the strategic nuclear arms control plays important role in the US-Russian relations. Some of the bilateral arms control agreements including their approaches and provisions have demonstrated their viability. In late 1960s the US President Lindon Johnson and the Soviet Prime Minister Alexei Kosygin started the process. It has survived rise and fall of the détente policy, war in Afghanistan and President Reagan's star wars, collapse of the Soviet Union, the end of the Cold War and the NATO enlargement.
At the same time, radical transformation from late 1980s affected the role and implementation of the bilateral arms control regime. Mainly, the regime was based on the Cold War imperatives and under approximate parity in sizes of strategic nuclear forces of both countries. The regime's erosion, which became evident in early 2000s, emerged not because of tactical considerations and occasional events. It has happened due to fundamental changes both on the global level and in the realm of bilateral US-Russian relations.