The NYT is giving prominence to a Russian proposal to ban cyberwarfare. The idea has been kicking around for years, but the Russians have been pushing it more strenuously in the last few months. How come? Some possibilities:
2. The Russians have finally figured out that the US actually adheres to these arms-control treaties while the Russians can violate them secretly (see, e.g., the biological weapons convention). The treaty would mean a one-sided stand-down.
3. An arms control treaty would be good for both sides.
I lean to answer 2, but answer 1 is also a possibility.
Answer 3 is not. You can't have a real arms control agreement unless you can verify compliance. How would that work? Turn every computer monitor into an international arms control monitor? A principal feature of computer attacks is the difficulty of attribution. The problem is so painfully obvious that it's hard to imagine the treaty idea is serious.
The Russians compare their proposal to the chemical weapons convention, but the more apt model may be the biological weapons convention. There the US took lots of grief for saying that the emperor really had no clothes, that verification was impossible, and that there was no point in pretending to negotiate a follow-on protocol.
In the end, though, answer 2 makes the most sense. The US military is increasingly hobbled by arguments about what the law of war permits, so why not give the JAG lawyers something else to worry about? The Europeans are always eager to find a new realm for international limits on warfare, so why not divide NATO over the issue? Just making the proposal creates tensions that have an asymmetric impact on the US. It's no-lose for Russia.