Russia's National Security Concepts and Military Doctrines: Continuity and Change

Jyotsna Bakshi, Research Fellow, IDSA

 

Soon after assuming the stewardship of the vast Eurasian state, Russia's young Acting President Vladimir Putin issued a decree on January 10, 2000 adopting the new National Security Concept of the Russian Federation . On April 21 less than a month after his election as the country's President he signed the decree adopting the Military Doctrine of the Russian Federation. The two vitally important documents that encapsulate the overall security and strategic framework and thinking of the country, have replaced the earlier National Security Concept of December 17, 1997 and the Military Doctrine of November 2, 1993. They reflect the evolution of Russia's strategic thought in response to the changing geopolitical and geostrategic environment, threat perceptions and the assessment of the country's overall capabilities. At the same time they also reflect a continuing and evolving process. Common strands run through the changes and shifts in emphases and priorities. An unmistakable tendency may be discerned to reach a compromise solution and balance amidst the conflicting schools of foreign policy thought. The new National Security Concept as well as the military doctrine were, in fact, formulated under the administration of the out-going President, Boris Yeltsin. The manner and timing of their promulgation as well as their content represent both the continuity and change as the country moves towards greater realism and pragmatism under the new leadership.

The national security concept is a wider and more comprehensive document that takes an all-encompassing and broader view of security, of which the military security enshrined in the military doctrine is but a component, albeit a very important component. The national security concept is defined as "a political document, which reflects a total combination of officially accepted views as regards specific goals and the appropriate state strategy aimed at ensuring individual, public and state security against political, economic, social, military, man-made, environmental, information and other internal and external threats (with due account taken of available resources and possibilities). The concept formulates the most important state-policy guidelines and principles, constituting a foundation for the elaboration of concrete programmes and organizational documents in the field of ensuring the Russian Federation's national security".1

Late Marshal Grechko defined the military doctrine as "an officially accepted system of views in a given state and in its armed forces, on the nature of war and methods of conducting it, and on preparations of the country and the army for war".2 It deals with the identity of potential adversaries, the likely nature of wars, and the material and methodological preparations to fight such wars. The Military Doctrine of April 21, 2000 said that it is based on certain "military-political foundations" comprising current and prospective development of the military-political situation, threat perceptions and the strategies to ensure the military security of the country.3

The military doctrine, thus, is a part of the country's overall national security concept and foreign policy framework. The direction of military reform and reorganisation are determined by the military doctrine, which, in its turn is determined by the broader national security concept . As then Secretary of the Russian Security Council , Ivan Rybkin, said in an interview to Nezavisimaya Gazeta in January 1998, it is hard to carry out military reform without a comprehensive approach to national security.4

From Initial Pro-West Orientation to a More Balanced Approach

The initial Russian policy after the fall of the Soviet Union was markedly pro-West. Russia hoped to become a part of the Western world and bring about systemic change from the Communist political and economic system to Western-type liberal democracy and market economy with the help of Western political support and large scale economic and technological assistance. In the security field also Yeltsin-Kozyrev (Andrei Kozyrev was Russia's first Foreign Minister till he was replaced by Yevgeny Primakov in January 1996) team in the initial post-Soviet period hoped to become a part of the broader Western security set up. The West was seen as a friend, a partner and a potential ally and no longer a security threat to Moscow. In view of the various flash-points of ethnic conflicts that erupted in the former Soviet space, Yeltsin-Kozyrev team in the initial period sought to ensure the maintenance of peace and stability in the area by encouraging the Conference of Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) to embrace Eurasia. In his talk with then German Foreign Minister Heinrich Genscher in January 1992, the Russian Foreign Minister, Andrei Kozyrev called for the establishment of a "single security space from Vancouver to Vladivostok". In his speech at the UNO, President Yeltsin proposed a "pan-European security system" within which Russia's security problems could be managed.5 It was indeed the continuation of the Gorbachevean line with even greater vigour. Gorbachev was an ardent advocate of the concept of a "common European home". The threat of eastward extension of NATO was still not on the horizon and Moscow at this time had a benign and favourable view of the West. Kozyrev was fond of saying that democracies do not wage wars. He was keen that Russia joined the 'civilized democracies' of the West.

Indeed, it was hoped that a partnership between the two nuclear superpowers—the USA and Russia—would lie at the base of the new post-Cold War security set up in the world. The Russian Ambassador to the USA called for "special kind" of relations between the USA and Russia, since the destiny of peace depended on them both. Andrei Kozyrev remarked in February 1992 that the Russian-US interaction can become the 'decisive factor in international security today'. Lt. Gen. Valerii Manilov proposed a 'grand US-Russian geopolitical partnership'. At the same time, however, he also noted that the interests of the USA and Russia were not always compatible, especially the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) was an area of discord between the two.6

A certain disenchantment set in with the West by the end of 1992 and beginning of 1993 as Russia's economic woes multiplied, political uncertainties persisted and the Western assistance proved to be inadequate to deal with the post-Soviet crises and malaise. Moscow thereafter proceeded to follow a more balanced policy towards the West and the East. President Yeltsin's visit to South Korea in November 1992, to China in December 1992 and to India in January 1993 were presented as a move towards a more balanced foreign policy.

The idea that found favour with the Russian leadership at the time was that because of its unique geopolitical location, Russia could emerge as a bridge between Europe and Asia. Those schools of Russian foreign policy thought that were known as the 'Eurasists', the 'geopoliticians' and the 'nationalists' as different from the 'Westerners' and the 'Atlanticists' whose leading representatives the Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev and his associates, tended to find greater favour with the articulate sections of the elite. The former views found greater acceptability in the parliamentary circles, among the academic community and public opinion. Even within the administration there were people like Sergei Stankevich, the advisor to the President on political issues, who were highly crtitical of Kozyrev's policy of 'meek submission' to the West and the policy of saying 'yes' to all the demands of the latter. Stankevich was a prominent Eurasist and emphasised the need for Russia to strengthen relations with Asia and being a true Eurasian power, try to synthesise between the Slavic, Turkish as well as Orthodox and the Muslim cultures. As the events unfolded , and the anti-Western and nationalist sentiment grew stronger in the country, President Yeltsin and his Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev did try to adopt some of these positions in their foreign policy pronouncements. The 'great power' status of Russia began to be emphasised by them. Russian policy also became more assertive in the 'near abroad' and more vociferous in defence of the rights and interests of the Russians and Russian-speaking people in the former Soviet republics. It was against this background that Russia enunciated its first military doctrine in November 1993.

The 1993 Military Doctrine

Russia's first military doctrine was approved by the Security Council and adopted by a Presidential decree on November 2, 1993.

Although by the time the military doctrine was issued, there was a definite waning in the earlier influence that the pro-West radical democrats held on the country's establishment, there was no 180 degrees turn in the country's foreign and defence policy formulations away from the West. Thus, there was shift in emphasis and priorities, but no sharp turns in the policy. The military doctrine envisaged no threat of attack from the West or a global war. But emergence of differences and contradictions with the West were not ruled out. According to the doctrine, "Though the threat of world war has not been eliminated yet, it has considerably reduced by now. The main current source of danger is local wars and regional conflict. This danger is constantly growing".

The military doctrine was termed as defensive in nature. It stressed that Russia did not have any enemy. Unlike the former Soviet Union, Russia did not have any particular ideology to defend and promote. The military doctrine was aimed at protecting the national interests of the country. Its task was to prevent war and repulse an aggression. Non-military means of settling disputes were to be preferred.

Significantly, the doctrine gave up the former Soviet commitment of no-first-use of nuclear weapons. Russian nuclear posture in this regard moved closer to that of other Western countries—the USA, U.K. and France. The abandonment of NFU pledge was justified in the name of declining conventional capability in the post-Soviet period. However, as then Defence Minister Pavel Grachev emphasised, the nuclear weapons were mainly to be a deterrence against any aggression and there would not be any pre-emptive nuclear strike.7 Moreover, it was also pointed out that the ten nuclear-threshold countries were situated in close proximity of the geo-strategic space occupied by Russia and its close neighbours, which had created a 'vague zone of nuclear risk". Russia's nuclear deterrence must meet these circumstances. Russia's commitment to Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty (NPT) were reiterated . The need for the creation of permanent action of the treaty as well as adopting measures to further expand the participants of the treaty was also emphasised.8

The military doctrine was termed as one of a transitional period when Russian statehood was being established, democratic reforms were being implemented and a new system of international relations was being shaped.

Besides the abandonment of the NFU commitment, another salient feature of the military doctrine was a more assertive Russian policy with regard to other former Soviet republics called blizhny Zarubezh or 'near abroad". It may be noted that in the initial post-Soviet period, radical economic reformers like the Acting Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar and his associate Gennady Burbulis insisted on 'Russia first' as regards the implementation of economic reforms. The pro-West Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev at the time was believed to be prepared to recognise the independence of the other post-Soviet republics to determine their own course. However, by November 1993 when the military doctrine was adopted a change had occurred in the national mood. Reflecting this change the military doctrine underscored Russia's 'special interests' and peacekeeping role in the 'near abroad'. While the threat of a global war seemed to be receding , the threat of local wars and regional conflicts arising from ethnic, religious or territorial disputes in the former Soviet space seemed to be increasing which were seen as having direct repercussions for Russian security in a region where Russia claimed to have a special role. The doctrine envisaged the following situations that constituted a 'military danger and an immediate threat' : 1. The build-up of military forces on Russia's borders, which could disrupt the prevailing correlation of forces, 2. The introduction of foreign troops into the territory of neighbouring countries, 3. The training of armed groups in other countries for introduction into the territory of Russia and its allies, 4. Attacks on the border installations of the Russian Federation and its allies to create border conflict or provocations, 5. Actions taken to interfere with the functioning of Russian systems for the support of its strategic nuclear forces and military command and control, above all the space component.9

Through the military doctrine, Russia appeared to have taken upon itself the defence of the external borders of the former Soviet Union. It was seen as Russia's 'Monroe doctrine' in the former Soviet space. Russian security experts pointed out that the former Soviet borders were well fortified and guarded. Russia's new borders were not formalised through treaties and well guarded and fortified. Several important radar bases and other facilities crucial for defence were located on the territory of other Soviet republics. It was not easy and cheap to create such systems on Russian territory in a short period. Particular emphasis was laid on the mechanism of collective security within the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) framework created by May 1992 collective security treaty signed at Tashkent. The military doctrine envisaged the stationing of Russian troops on the territory of the former Soviet Union for peace-keeping as well as maintenance of security and stability in keeping with the appropriate international legal norms and with the consent of the concerned states.10 The peacekeeping role of Russia within the CIS framework was particularly emphasised and the Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev even sought UN authorisation for it and even international financial support.

Russia's political and military leadership took a number of measures during 1993-94 to strengthen Russia's influence in the former Soviet space. In fact, the security of the external borders of the CIS as well as the maintenance of peace and stability in the entire region came to be regarded as being crucial for the maintenance of Russian security. Thus, in accordance with August 1992 agreement between Russia and four Central Asian republics barring Turkmenistan, a 25-thousand strong Russian-Central Asian force was created to protect the Tajik-Afghan border and protect Tajikistan from the threat of Islamic militants.

In October 1992, Azerbaijan had withdrawn from the CIS, but following a change of government in Baku in 1993, reportedly with Russian assistance, it rejoined the CIS in September 1993. Another Transcaucasian republic of Georgia, which had decided to remain outside Russia-led CIS initially, was also obliged to join the organisation in 1993. A Russian peacekeeping force was deployed to maintain peace between Georgia and the breakaway Georgian province Abkhazia. Georgia also gave five bases to Russia including three naval bases on its Black Sea coast.11

In response to the strong domestic public sentiment, the Russian leadership also made certain moves to protect the interests of the Russians and the Russian-speaking people in the former Soviet republics. It called upon them to grant Russians and the Russian-speaking people dual citizenship, which, incidentally, was rejected by all except Turkmenistan.

The Russian leadership and political class veered round to the view that if Russia did not move to maintain stability and peace in the former Soviet space where a number of hotbeds and flash-points had emerged, then the vacuum would be filled by some one else at the cost of Russia's geopolitical interests. There was also the apprehension that the spill-over effect would threaten Russia's adjoining regions. It seemed that the Western response to these moves by Russia was two-fold and rather contradictory. On the one hand, there was a certain recognition in the Western circles of Russia's legitimate interest in the former Soviet republics, on the other hand, the West—mainly the USA—assiduously sought to wean former Soviet republics away from Russia. At the same time, an attempt was made to integrate Russia into the world system. Thus, Russia has been admitted to G-7 making it G-8 and has also been given the membership of APEC. The capital of the sprawling Eurasian landmass in possession of the second largest nuclear stockpile with considerable natural, human and technological resources could not be totally ignored. However, in no case, does the West want the revival of the power of Moscow in the same way as it was during the heyday of the former Soviet Union.

Intentions Not Matched By Capabilities

It seems that there was no uniformity of opinion within the Russian political class regarding the country's goals and objectives within the former Soviet space. Some favoured the restoration of Moscow's historical and traditional hold over the region; others would be more satisfied with promoting Russia's economic interests in the region; still others tended to favour a hands- off policy and concentrate on Russia first.

Even if there were intentions to consolidate Russia's overall predominant position in the 'near abroad', they could not be matched with the requisite economic and military capabilities. Russia's military weakness was exposed during the unsuccessful military campaign against the rebel north Caucasian republic of Chechnya in 1994-96. What was more, Russia began to steadily lose ground economically in the former Soviet republics.

In the meanwhile, the West—mainly the USA—sought to energetically promote 'geopolitical pluralism' in the former Soviet space by encouraging the new republics to strengthen their independence from the former metropolis.

The move towards the eastward enlargement of NATO also gained momentum much to the chagrin and consternation of Moscow. The West sought to allay Russian fears and opposition by offering the latter as well as other new republics membership of NATO's Partnership for Peace (PfP) programme.

It is particularly noteworthy that in keeping with the dominant trend of post-Cold War Russian policy, Moscow preferred to choose the path of constructive engagement and cooperation with the West rather than revert back to the era of the Cold War. It insisted on getting special treatment within the Partnership for Peace framework and succeeded in getting sixteen (NATO member countries at the time) plus one (Russia) meeting. Finally Russia joined the Partnership for Peace in July 1994 along with all other former Soviet republics.

It seems that within the former Soviet space also Moscow tended to come to terms with reality and sought to salvage as much of its former influence and clout as possible. In the circumstances, it sought selective integration with the inner core of the former Soviet states, which , for various reasons, seemed more willing for such an integration.12 On March 29, 1996 a Customs Union was signed between four republics, viz, Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Recently Tajikistan also has joined the Customs Union. Among the five Central Asian republics, Turkmenistan is following a policy of neutrality and Uzbekistan—the most populous of the republics—has been showing greater assertion of independence and inclination towards the West. Among the three Transcaucasian republics—Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia—Armenia is a firm military and political ally of Russia. The impulse towards greater integration with Moscow is particularly strong in the sister Slavic republic of Belarus, while the second most important of the former Soviet republics and also one of Slavic ethnic stock—Ukraine—is being assiduously wooed both by the West and Moscow. Ukraine is trying to evenly balance between the two.

It may be noted that in keeping with its overall policy stance towards the West, Moscow decided to evolve an institutional mechanism of continuous engagement with NATO rather than headlong confrontation with the latter over the issue of its proposed eastward extension. Thus, in May 1997 Russia-NATO foundation Act was signed whereby a Joint Permanent council was created that provided a forum for wide ranging consultations between the two.

The National Security Concept, December 17, 1997

The concept of National Security adopted in December 1997 was, in fact, a compromise document. It took note of major international and national trends, laid down Russian-desiderated direction of development and followed a mid-way position between conflicting and contradictory tendencies.

Russia's National Security Concept of December 1997 as well as that of January 2000 make it amply clear that Russia prefers a multi-polar world where Russia is one of the influential poles as a great power.

According to the National Security concept of 1997, the international scene seemed to be marked by both negative and positive tendencies. While 'stronger economic and political positions of quite a few states' tended to lay the basis of a multi-polar world, it seemed that "it will take a lot of time for a multi-polar world to assert itself. Various repeated attempts, which aim to create such a structure of international relations that would be based on unilateral solutions of key international problems (including military and power-political solutions), are still being manifested rather actively during the current stage of the multi-polar world's emergence."

The real threat to Russia's security seemed to emanate from current and potential hotbeds of local wars and armed conflicts. The root cause of Russian problems lay in the persistent economic crisis and general malaise afflicting the body-politic of the society.13

Military reforms were crucial but because of economic constraints and other reasons they were being dragged on.14

The concept offered solutions to the innumerable problems faced by the country in general and broad terms, which—as the experience of subsequent years showed—lacked a sense of urgency.

According to the document Russia would continue to develop constructive partnership with the following states in this order of priority: the United States of America, the European Union, China, Japan and India.15 Thus, in the Russian order of priorities at that time, India ranked fifth.

The document called for the establishment of an "entirely new system of European and Atlantic security," in which the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe is to play a coordinating role. It called for increased efforts to establish multilateral organisation for cooperation in the sphere of international security in the Asia-Pacific Region and south Asia and Russia's active participation as a permanent member of the UN Security Council in the settlement and prevention of regional crises and conflicts.

Concern was expressed for the "protection of the legitimate rights and interests of Russian citizens living abroad" but in general terms and "strictly in keeping with international law".

Although the 1997 national security concept did not renounce Russia's special interests in the former Soviet space , nor rule out the possibility of Russia's military action or presence, but unlike in the 1993 military doctrine, the emphasis on Russia's special or exclusive role as the guarantor of peace and security was not there.

What is of particular importance is the fact that in this document Russia, for the first time, laid down that it "does not strive for parity in the armaments and armed forces with the major states of the world and seeks to implement a principle of realistic deterrence based on determination to make an adequate use of the available military might for preventing aggression".

Nuclear deterrence remained an effective means of self defence. And the main task of nuclear deterrence was to "prevent both a nuclear and conventional large-scale or regional war," and also to meet the "allied commitments" of the country.

The Events Leading to the Year 2000 National Security Concept and the Military Doctrine

The new national security concept and the military doctrine reflect the impact of certain important developments that have taken place in the intervening period between the two concepts. In fact these developments have necessitated the adoption of a new National Security concept as well as a new Military Doctrine. These are the admission of three new members to NATO which were previously members of the Moscow-led Warsaw Pact—Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic. NATO has reached the borders of the former Soviet space and it is proposed to include several former Soviet republics in the organisation—a possibility, which Moscow regards as a grave threat to its security. NATO bombing of Yugoslavia—a friendly Slav country for Moscow—over the issue of Kosovo autonomy without an UN mandate, has been regarded by Moscow as an event that has set a very dangerous precedent. In the words of Russian Foreign Minister Ivan Ivanov, NATO's military action in the Balkans "violated the letter and spirit " of Russia-NATO Founding Act. It caused serious damage to the confidence that had begun to form in Russia regarding NATO. He warned that Russia's relations with NATO could not improve if such events were to be repeated.16 In April 1999 at the time of NATO's 50th anniversary celebrations in Washington a new strategic doctrine was adopted which authorised NATO to intervene beyond the area of its traditional responsibility without seeking an UN mandate, where Russia has a veto as a permanent member. These developments have aroused a very grave security concern in Moscow. In the wake of NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, Moscow suspended all contacts with NATO within the framework of Russia-NATO Founding Act. But Moscow abstained from intervening in the hostilities on the side of Yugoslavia and tried to play the role of a peace-maker in order to bring about an early end to the hostilities. Significantly, all other former Soviet republics took part in the 50th anniversary celebrations of NATO in Washington with the exception of Russia.

Moreover, US intention to revise the 1972 ABM treaty signed with the former Soviet Union and build a National Missile Defence (NMD) system has also aroused grave concern in Moscow. Moscow has warned that it would undermine the entire arms control and security structure built between the two countries during the past thirty years and start a new round of arms race.

Russia's military action against the rebel republic of Chechnya beginning in September 1999 after a provocation was provided by the occupation of certain border villages in neighbouring Dagestan by Chechen militants and the apartment bombings in Moscow and other cities allegedly by the Chechen terrorists, was an attempt to firmly re-establish Moscow's control over the entire length and breadth of the Russian territory, boost the authority of Kremlin and the new heir-apparent Vladimir Putin personally. It was claimed that in Chechnya, Russia was fighting against international terrorism, the kidnappers and bandit gangs and the prevailing lawlessness on behalf of the entire international community. In its Chechen operation , Moscow took a leaf from NATO's own aerial bombardment against Yugoslavia and earlier Iraq. The West's stringent criticism of Russia's Chechnya war on humanitarian grounds was regarded by Russia as an example of Western "double standards" and created further bad blood between the two.

From the Russian perspective, all these developments gave a new urgency to the need to augment Russia's military expenditure, quicken the pace of military reforms and reorganisation and plug the weak spots. In the wake of Yugoslavia, Russia conducted a large military exercise called West-99 in the north west of the country putting to test the command and control systems of the country. The move to form a military-political union with Belarus now a frontline state between Russia and NATO, was given a new impetus. A fresh urgency was felt to revamp the country's national security concept and military doctrine. The national security concept was to provide the basis and the larger framework within which the military doctrine was to be framed and military reorganisation planned and executed.17 The work on both these documents has been going on in earnest since the second half of 1999. On October 16, 1999, the army newspaper Krasnaya Zvezda published the draft of the new military doctrine. It contained a renewed emphasis on the significance of Russia's nuclear deterrent to face the threats to the country's security. It was widely commented that in the draft military doctrine, Russia had lowered its nuclear threshold.18 Soon after the publication of the draft military doctrine in Krasnaya Zvezda, the First Deputy Chief of Russia's General Staff Col. Gen. Valery Manilov, who was also associated with the making of the 1993 military doctrine, was reported to have remarked that Russia may use nuclear weapons if its existence as a state, its independence and territorial integrity are threatened by nuclear, non-nuclear or any other state. He remarked that although the threat of global nuclear war has been effectively reduced to the minimum, new dangers are threatening Russia. NATO's eastward extension is a new and very serious threat. New demarcation line is emerging in Europe and it is advancing towards Russia.19

It was reported that the officers at the Russian General Staff wanted to name the West as Russia's enemy. The draft sent by the Defence Ministry to the Security Council was reported to contain it. However, subsequently it was toned down as it was thought that it would start a new Cold War and Russia could not afford it.20

Similarities and Differences between 1997 and 2000 National Security Concepts

The basic format of the two concepts is similar. Both the documents view the national interests of the country in terms of the interests of the individual, society and the state. Both highlight the central necessity of ensuring stable economic development as a basis for ensuring the country's national interests in every sphere. Both documents admit that mistakes and blunders were committed in the initial period of reforms. Concern is expressed in both the documents that fuel and energy resources constitute the bulk of Russian exports and food and consumer goods are the main import items . Both the documents express concern at the flight of capital and brain-drain from Russia and the growing lag between Russia and other advanced countries in science and technology. Science-intensive industries and R&D facilities are regarded as the priority areas of development. The need to work against crime and corruption is stressed. Both speak of the need to maintain the constitutional regime, civic peace and promote national accord and protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country. Both the documents reiterate adherence to non-proliferation commitments.

Both favour the establishment of a multi-polar world where Russia would be one of the influential 'poles' as a great power. Both the documents stress the need of integration of Russia in the global economy and developing equitable and mutually beneficial relations with all the countries and "above all with the members of the Commonwealth of Independent States". However, the overall tone of 1997 concept is more optimistic. Apprehensions regarding the impediments in the way of emergence of a multi-polar world are expressed in a more circumspect manner. The new national security concept is more specific in pointing out that the trend towards the emergence of a multi-polar world is opposed by "the attempt to create a structure of international relations based on the domination of developed Western countries, led by the USA, in the international community and providing for unilateral solution of the key problems of global politics, above all with the use of military force, in violation of the fundamental norms of international law."21

Both the documents acknowledge that Russia's position in the international system has become less influential. And there are some states that are trying to weaken Russia's position in political, economic, military and other spheres.

The 1997 concept was more optimistic about the possibility of "demilitarization of international relations" and the opportunities before Russia to ensure its national security through "non-military" methods like contractual-legal, political, economic and—despite certain limitations and imperfections—through multilateral peace-keeping and security mechanisms. However, the 2000 concept says that "the significance of military force in international relations remains considerable". The year 2000 national security concept also warns that "the attempts to ignore the interests of Russia when tackling major problems of international relations, including conflict situations, can undermine international security and stability and slow down the ongoing positive changes in international relations".

In view of the developments in Chechnya, the fight against terrorism has been moved up in the scale of priorities in the year 2000 national security concept. According to the concept, transnational terrorism threatens stability in the world and has grown in many countries, including the Russian Federation. It calls for pooling the efforts of the international community and raising the effectiveness of the available forms and methods of combating this threat and taking emergency measures to neutralise it.

In view of growing importance of information technology and information warfare, particular importance is given in the year 2000 document on the threat to Russia in the information sphere.

The main difference between 1997 and 2000 national security concepts lay in their respective threat perceptions. The 1997 concept did not envisage "an all-out aggression against Russia". However, the 2000 concept does not specifically rule out such a threat. In fact, it thus lists the tasks of the country's armed forces : "repelling an aggression in a local war (armed conflict), and to ensure a strategic deployment of troops for the fulfilment of tasks in an all-out war."

The 1997 concept says that the main threat to the country is "not of a military character" at present and is not expected to be such in the near future. The main threat appeared to be in the domestic sphere. However, the new concept says that "the level and scales of military threats have been growing". The very next sentence says: "The transition of NATO to the use of force (military force) beyond the zone of its responsibility and without the sanction of the UN Security Council, which has been elevated to the level of a strategic doctrine, is fraught with the destabilization of the strategic situation in the world".

Both the documents express opposition to the eastward enlargement of NATO. But by the time the year 2000 concept was formulated , the eastward extension of NATO had already become a reality. Concern was expressed in the concept at "possible appearance of foreign military bases and large military contingents in direct proximity to the Russian borders".

Concern is also expressed at "the weakening of the integration process in the Commonwealth of Independent States" and "the appearance and escalation of conflicts close to the state borders of the Russian federation and the external borders of the Commonwealth of Independent States". Amidst the threats to Russian security are included the attempts to weaken Russia's positions in Europe, the Middle East, the Transcaucasus, Central Asia and Asia Pacific. Claims on Russian territory, economic, demographic and cultural-religious expansion of other countries to the territory of Russia as well as illegal immigration are some of the other threats that need to be resisted.

The concept calls for strengthening the role of the state in order to curb fissiparous tendencies and check crime and corruption as well as to protect the interests of domestic producers. It stresses the need for gradual reduction in the country's dependence on foreign loans. The overall emphasis is on making Russia strong largely relying on its own efforts. The need for maintaining an adequate military strength is clearly felt to ensure the country's security. According to the concept:

"The main task of the Russian Federation is to deter aggression of any scale against it and its allies, including with the use of nuclear weapons".

The document further adds:

"The Russian Federation must have nuclear forces capable of delivering specified damage to any aggressor state or a coalition of states in any situation".

Russia's growing reliance on its nuclear shield is justified on the ground that it would never be able to match NATO in conventional military capability.

The Military Doctrine, April 21, 2000

The much-awaited military doctrine was finally issued on April 21, 2000. By this time Vladimir Putin had won the Presidential elections. He also succeeded in getting START II and CTBT ratified by the Russian Duma, which is more compliant now. It was a gesture to the West that Russia is prepared for extensive engagement with the latter on issues of arms control. The ratification of START II and the CTBT (which the US Senate has refused to ratify) was also aimed to project a favourable image of Russia on the eve of NPT review conference in New York that began in the third week of April, 2000. Russia has further proposed that both Russia and the USA cut down their nuclear warheads to 1,500 each as against earlier sealing of 2000 to 2500 warheads under proposed START III. While ratifying START II , a clause has been included in the document by the Russian Parliament that Russia would withdraw from the treaty obligations and all other arms control agreements if Washington goes ahead with its projected building of a National Missile Defence (NMD) system in violation of 1972 ABM treaty. However, as seen from the Russian media, Russia has shown some willingness and flexibility in discussing the revision of some tactical aspects of the ABM treaty, but not its strategic aspects. Russia has warned that in case the USA goes ahead with the building of NMD, Russian response would be 'asymmetric'.

The objective of Russia's new military doctrine (as also of the national security concept) is to ensure core interests of Russian security. Having done that, Russia is prepared to engage with its major interlocutors in further talks and negotiations about the modalities of further arms control, confidence-building measures and building up an overall security mechanism.

It is significant to note that in his interview with the BBC in early March 2000 in reply to a question whether Russia would be prepared to join NATO, Vladimir Putin replied "why not?". Russian officials and media have continued to comment subsequently that nobody is waiting for Russia in NATO and that no invitation has been extended, etc. Nonetheless, it was a gesture to the West, which is expected to be Russia's major trading partner and source of investments and high technology if Russia's economic recovery is to gather momentum. Another gesture to the West was the fact that Putin chose Britain, a close US ally as the first country to visit outside CIS (Putin went to London via Minsk, the capital of Belarus).

It is significant that while the National Security Concept issued in January 2000 did not rule out the threat of an all-out war, the Military Doctrine issued a few months later in April does mention that "in modern conditions, the threat of a direct military aggression, in its traditional forms, against the Russian Federation and its allies has ebbed owing to positive changes in the international situation, the pursuance by Russia of an active peaceful foreign policy, and the maintenance of the Russian military capabilities, above all the nuclear deterrence capabilities, at the required level".22

For the rest, the Military Doctrine follows the overall pattern of the earlier military doctrine and the new national security concept. Thus, like the military doctrine of 1993, the new military doctrine is characterised as the doctrine of the transitional period and a defensive doctrine.

The military doctrine stresses that the country's nuclear power is for deterring an aggression against it and its allies. But in agreement with the USA and other nuclear states, Russia is prepared to reduce its nuclear arsenal "down to minimum ceilings meeting the demands of strategic stability". Nuclear weapons remain the main shield of ensuring the country's security. According to the doctrine:

"The Russian Federation retains the right to use nuclear weapons in reply to the use of nuclear and other mass destruction weapons against it and (or) its allies, as well as in reply to a large-scale aggression with the use of conventional weapons in situations critical for the national security of the Russian Federation . The Russian Federation shall not use nuclear weapons against states party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons that do not have nuclear weapons, unless an attack at the Russian Federation, the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and other troops, its allies or a state to which it has security obligations".

These provisions are seen as having lowered the threshold of the use of nuclear weapons by Russia. One thing is clear that through its new National Security Concept and the Military Doctrine, the new Russian leadership has made it clear to all that Russia is determined to defend itself by all means at its disposal. The military action against Chechnya and President Putin's recent move to consolidate hold over the recalcitrant regional leaders are a clear message that the Kremlin's first priority is to consolidate power within the territorial extent of Russia. It has been made clear that the CIS or the former Soviet space continues to be of considerable geopolitical and geostrategic significance for Moscow. The countries that are a party to the CIS collective security treaty fall within the ambit of Russia's security parameters. However, for the new Kremlin leaders Russian interests and Russian security concerns as well as Russia's socio-economic regeneration come first rather than pursuing any illusory goals of restoring Moscow's old imperial glory. But as Moscow focuses on consolidating its power and gathers in economic and military strength, the capitals of the former Soviet republics are bound to feel Moscow's weight . What is more, they can no longer expect concessional treatment as with "buddy Yeltsin" and get away with it. The new Kremlin leader purports to be more businesslike and pragmatic in the pursuit of Russian interests. As a visiting scholar from a Central Asian republic admitted recently, these republics will have to think twice before going ahead with the joint military exercises with the participation of NATO troops like centrazbat exercises conducted annually under NATO's Partnership for Peace Programme.

 

NOTES

1. Leszek Buszynski, Russian Foreign Policy After the Cold War (London: Connecticut: Westport: Praeger, 1996) 1996, p. 5.

2. Ibid., pp. 6,8.

3. Military Doctrine of the Russian Federation approved by Decree of the President of the Russian Federation on April 21, 2000. The text provided by the Information Department of the Russian Embassy in New Delhi.

4. Nezavisimaya Gazeta, January 29, 1998.

5. Leszek Buszynski, op.cit., p. 5.

6. Ibid., pp. 6,8.

7. Cited in Spencer D. Bakich, "The Military Doctrine of the Russian Federation: Working Document or Anachronism ?", Conflict Studies 301, July-August 1997, p. 6.

8. Ibid., pp. 6-7.

9. Ibid., p. 10.

10. Ibid., p. 8.

11. Jyotsna Bakshi, "Russia in the Geopolitics of Central Asia and the Caspian Sea Region: Adjusting to New Realities", in the book (ed.) Shams Ud-Din , Geopolitics and Energy Resources in Central Asia and Caspian Sea Region (New Delhi: Lancers Books, 2000), p. 158.

12. Ibid., pp. 161-164.

13. National Security Concept of the Russian Federation, December 17, 1997. The text provided by the Information Department of the Russian Embassy in New Delhi.

14. Ibid., p. 6.

15. Ibid., p. 14.

16. SWB, SU/3679 B/5, October 30, 1999.

17. SWB, Part I, October 6, 1999.

18. See, for instance, Rachel Douglas, "Russian `doctrine' : The posture of a big military power, under attack", EIR, October 29, 1999, pp. 32-33.

19. SWB, Part I, October 18, 1999.

20. Itogi, No. 9 in Daily Review, March 21, 2000.

21. National Security Concept of the Russian Federation (approved by Presidential Decree No. 1300 of December 17, 1999; given in wording of Presidential Decree No. 24 of January 10, 2000), Text in Rossiskaya Gazeta, January 18, 2000.

22. Military Doctrine of the Russian Federation, April 21, 2000. op.cit.