Russian National Security Thinking

Baidya Bikash Basu, Research Officer, IDSA



Russia's security environment has undergone fundamental changes since the disintegration of the Soviet Union. So has Russian power. The old Soviet Union was a superpower and for nearly forty-five years provided a global strategic balance along with the United States. With the end of the Cold War and the collapse of Russian power that strategic stability and security order too collapsed. A plethora of new challenges have emerged in the past decade since the emergence of the new democratic Russia in 1991. Among these are serious undermining of its international power, status and influence; loss of diplomatic and economic leverages; increasing disparity in power with the United States and now even China; rise of secessionist movements in areas such as Chechnya, terrorism and growth of fundamentalism; serious economic crisis and the decline of both military power and military industrial capabilities. In such a situation the Russian leaders have struggled to articulate a security concept and doctrines that would enable Russia to deal with the existing and emerging threats and challenges. National Security Concept of 1993, 1997 and 1999 have clearly spelt out the manifold challenges, that the Russian state has been facing in the domestic as well as in the international arena.

This article describes the main elements of Russia's new National Security Concept, its key concerns and the broad policies it intends to follow to deal with the emerging challenges.

Evolution of Russia's National Security Concept

In January 1993, a policy memorandum was forwarded by Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev to the chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Supreme Soviet, Yevgeny Ambartsumov. After extensive reviewing and redrafting in the Security Council, three months later in April 1993, it was signed by President Yeltsin. The Concept, Kontzeptzia and the Main Tenets, Osnovnye polozhenia, formalised a revolutionary shift in Russia's national security priorities between 1987 and 1993. The Concept gave priority to economic progress and democratic stabilisation over national security and foreign policy. In the foreign policy realm, the 1993 Concept highlighted the development of an elite consensus around the core issue of 'Near-Abroad' and elaboration of national interest of Russia as a regional superpower, Russia as a world's great power, and Russia as the nuclear superpower. The Concept stressed importance on developing cooperative relations with the West and particularly the United States as Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev felt that economic factors were critical in shaping this Concept and therefore the post-Soviet Russian foreign policy focused on the wealthiest, Western capitalist states to gain economic assistance and to integrate Russia into the global economy.1

Anti-Western feeling, particularly towards the United States was gaining ground among almost all Russians. This feeling intensified during the Balkan war of 1995-96 and the role of the United States was clearly seen by the Russian elite as hegemonistic. In December 1995, Yevgeny Primakov was the new Foreign Minister, replacing Andrei Kozyrev. The new Foreign Minister in his first press conference promised that Russian foreign policy would reflect the "country's status as a great power" and, at the same time, seek "equal, mutually beneficial partnership" with the West.

In May 1997, the new national security doctrine was adopted. It identified major threats, not external in nature but emanating from socio-economic instability. Significantly, it stressed on economic stability over defence from external military threats.2

The concept of 'multi-polar' world was formulated by Yevgeny Primakov. According to the Primakov doctrine, in a multi-polar world Russia is to play the role of an independent center of power and influence, enjoying diversified and multiple contacts and partnerships with other world powers. It is necessary for Russia to find the right balance between the West and the East. Russia should act according to its own interests and enter into cooperation with other actors in the international system where their interests also coincide with that of Russia. Rejecting the 'uni-polar' concept this multi-polar concept was accepted by the Russian political class. This shift towards realism affirmed Russia's priority of maintaining itself as a great power directed towards enhancing its economic and social realities in its domestic firmament. Indeed, Primakov doctrine was a "middle course" between the "extremes of Soviet anti-Westernism" and Kozyrev's "pro-Western romantic approach". This "middle course" in Russian foreign policy provided a more confident and forceful approach with a greater sense of confidence among Russian elite that Russian interests, prestige and status would be enhanced.3

Russian description of the current international system is one of multi-polarity. According to both 1997 and 1999 National Security Concept, end of the Cold War brought about a transition from the confrontational bipolar world to a multi-polar one. The decades of the Cold War saw the competition between the United States and the Soviet Union. After collapse of the Soviet Union, the painful loss of power, explained the rejection of the uni-polar concept, which supposes an international structure with the United States at the very top of it and Russia far below. The basic conception of international structure and process is a relatively traditional understanding of the role and influence of the great powers. The essence of the multi-polar concept implies:

l after the end of the Cold War, centrifugal forces are leading the world from a bipolar to a multi-polar structure;

l the disintegration of the Soviet Union saw the countries of Eastern and Central Europe as well as the former Soviet republics moving politically away from Russia and closer to the West;

l at the same time the role of the United States in the Western world began to decline. Euro centrism in Western Europe prevailed over the traditional Atlanticism;

l China which was not part of the bipolar confrontation, asserted itself as a new center of economic power by enhancing its economic potential;

l in the East and Southeast Asia new centers of economic power emerged.

The previous security concept could not deal with the present plethora of problems and President Vladimir V. Putin wants to deal with them in his own way. President Putin has put forward a new "National Security Concept" indicating the current Russian government's views. This comes in the form of "National Security Concept," is the considered view of the new Russian elite in the post Yeltsin administration, and takes into account the Russian experiences of the past decade. Vladimir Putin's ambition is to re-establish Russia's influence and great power status in the international arena. The bench mark being the end of the Cold War, collapse of the Soviet Union and emergence of new democratic Russia. According to Sergei Ivanov, secretary of Russia's Security Council the new National Security Concept is intended to "more distinctly outline the definition of a multipolar world and the way Russia will work on safeguarding national interests".4 The National Security Concept of the Russian Federation was approved by the Presidential Decree number 1300 of December 17, 1999. The Presidential Decree number 24 on January 10, 2000 further approved this.

Five factors in particular have deeply affected Russian security thinking and the concerns are reflected in the new security concept.

l NATO expansion;

l differences over the United States on ABM Treaty and possible deployment of BMDs;

l separatist movement and rise of fundamentalist Islam in Chechnya and elsewhere in the Russian periphery;

l growth of terrorism as a serious security problem; and

l lack of agreement with the United States and Europe over management of the conflicts in Yugoslavia and Kosovo where NATO pursued a unilateralist course bypassing the UN Security Council.

The National Security Concept constitutes a system of views on ensuring the security of the individual, society and the state from external and internal threats in all spheres of life. The dynamic transformation of the international system has seen the end of bi-polarity leading to a unipolar international system, sharply tilted towards the West. In global politics, unilateral solutions, especially by the United States, very often using military force and violating the fundamental norms of international law is seen by Russia as a negative development in the world political scenario. This Concept criticises "attempts to create an international relations structure based on domination by developed Western countries in the international community, under U S leadership and designed for unilateral solutions…in circumvention of the fundamental rules of international law". Russia understands the development of a multipolar world and it strongly wants to facilitate this development. The interests of Russia and those of other states are similar on problems of international security including resistance to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), prevention and settlement of regional conflicts, struggle with international terrorism and drug trafficking, solution of the acute global ecological problems and problems of ensuring nuclear and radiation safety.5

Two major trends dominate the nature of the international system today; first is that of cooperation where a number of states and associations are playing a greater role in the integration process thereby strengthening the international system. Second is that of domination by the developed countries, led by the United States in violation of the international law. Some countries are trying to influence world politics through the use of force. The significance of military force remains. Proliferation of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, means of their delivery and the newest technologies of military production are the cause of major concern for Russia. The use of military and nuclear options cannot be ruled out in today's global politics. Every nation, especially the developed ones, wants to dictate terms and exert influence directly over the weaker ones, thus marginalising the importance of the United Nations and destabilising international security.6

Russian President Vladimir V. Putin pointed out that stability in many parts of the world is being undermined by the increasing gap between the rich and poor countries, inter-ethnic contradictions and separatism. The danger of proliferation of WMD is acquiring an acute form. Russia understands the need to mobilise efforts in looking for effective replies to such global problems.

Threats to National Security

The primary threats to Russia's security environment exist in Russia's extraordinary international, domestic, political, economic and social disorders. In this context, the most distinctive threats in the international sphere, according to the new Concept paper are:

l the desire of some states and international associations to diminish the role of existing mechanisms for ensuring international security, above all the United Nations and the OSCE;

l the danger of weakening Russia's political, economic and military influence in the world;

l the strengthening of military-political blocks and alliances, above all NATO's eastward expansion;

l the possible emergence of foreign military bases and major military presences in the immediate proximity of Russian borders;

l proliferation of mass destruction weapons and their delivery vehicles;

l the weakening of integrational processes in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS);

l outbreak and escalation of conflicts near the state borders of the Russian Federation and the external borders of the CIS countries;

l territorial claims on Russia.7

In the border sphere the threats are:

l economic, demographic and cultural-religious expansion of the adjacent states into the Russian territory;

l growing activity of trans-border organised crime and foreign terrorist organisations.8

i) NATO Expansion

In the post-Cold War phase, international relations have taken a new, different path. Russia's internal development and more so it's foreign policy creates the opportunity for Russia not only to be a part of Europe but that Europe which is far more benign than ever before. Becoming part of the West and Europe is not that easy, viewing the internal dynamics of Russia, which tells a tale of instability. To become like the countries of Europe in political and economic terms, democratic Russia would have to create and sustain the kind of relationship, which France and Germany have developed over the last half-century. Very similar would be the relationship of Russia with Ukraine. Russia's relationship with Ukraine constitutes one of the most significant bilateral relationships in Europe. Both these countries pursue radically different foreign policies. At times they have been at loggerheads on basic security questions. With regard to NATO, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma showed concern at the initial stage that NATO enlargement would complicate the external security environment, but later on supported NATO enlargement and even described NATO as 'the only real guarantor of security in the continent' during his visit to Warsaw in 1996.9 Russia's sensitivity towards the Baltic Sea area, the Black Sea area and the Trans-Caucasus is natural, viewing it through the prism of traditional strategic considerations. It's assertiveness in the Baltic Sea area is because of the Russo-phone minorities in this area; in the Black Sea area it is due to relationship with Ukraine leaving the confrontational approach; and in the Trans-Caucasus, for the prospects of Caspian oil project.10 The pace at which Russia moves westward will depend on its socio-political and economic reforms. It is worth noting that Russia would then be a part of a community of peaceful, democratic, economically integrated nation-states. The dilemma lies more on the Western side. Russia is ready to enter the gates of the West, is the West ready to receive Russia? For the time being Western aid is the life saving drug for the Russian economy. The two international organisations in Europe, NATO and the European Union (EU) are closely monitoring Russian policy. NATO and Russia are fully determined to contribute to build a stable and undivided Europe. NATO and Russia will conscientiously meet their commitments to international law and contribute to stronger security in the Euro-Atlantic region on the basis of the NATO-Russia Founding Act of May 1997 and through cooperation in the Joint Permanent Council. In the Balkans, Russian and NATO military contingents operate jointly as part of the KFOR in Kosovo, with the view of fully implementing the UN Security Council resolution 1244, to which Russia and NATO are committed.11 According to Russian scholars and think tanks, US-NATO intervention in Yugoslavia in many respects was aimed against Russia. The use of force against Yugoslavia in violation of the provisions of international law and without the authorisation of the UN Security Council explains Russian suspicions about NATO. It is only natural that Russia cannot agree to NATO's eastward expansion and NATO cannot become a dominant European security structure in which Russia is not a member. There is a strong consensus in Russia against NATO's expansion.

ii) Missile Defence and ABM Treaty

On the arms control issue, dispute over missile defence systems has come to the forefront between Russia and the United States. The United States proposes to amend the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty to allow limited land based defences against a limited missile attack, not from Russia but from 'rogue' states like North Korea, Iran and Iraq. Russia has strongly opposed any changes in the 1972 ABM treaty. For almost three decades this ABM treaty has been the benchmark in the arms control process. The Clinton administration is seeking Russian agreement to amend the 1972 ABM treaty to make room for a limited National Missile Defence (NMD). Russia is not yet convinced of the need to amend the ABM treaty. Russia has relied on its nuclear deterrent as a guarantee against possible WMD attack since it signed the ABM treaty. Even the European allies of the US have shown their concerns for the proposed NMD. Russian President Vladimir Putin has called on the European Union and NATO to set up a joint anti missile shield. Russian Duma ratified the START-II on April 14, 2000. Ratification of START-II is a major political boost to President Putin. Russia's ratification of START-II clearly shows that despite disagreements on matters such as Kosovo and Iraq, US and Russia can do business on arms control to make the world safer. START-II reduces the number of nuclear weapons from 6,000 to a maximum of 3,500 for each side by the end of 2007. It also paves the way for negotiations on more reduction in the Russian and US nuclear arsenals under START-III accord. Mr. Putin warned that Russia would pull out of all nuclear and conventional arms control agreements if the US does not adhere to the 1972 ABM treaty. Russian deputies have reserved Russia's right to withdraw from START-II if the US violated the ABM treaty by deploying a NMD.12

With regard to ballistic missile defence (BMD) Russia wants to preserve its special status as a strategic peer vis-à-vis the United States. Russia holds the view that the United States wants to take strategic advantage of Russia's weakness. US NMD programme is evidence of this. Russian policy makers' view the American NMD programme as a direct challenge to the 1972 ABM Treaty. From a Russian perspective the United States seems to be less inclined to take Russian interests and demands into account. 'Traditionalists' who continue to dominate Russian policy making are for the preservation of the 1972 ABM treaty. They perceive Russian 'losses' in relation to the United States; particularly the rapid deterioration of Russian military power and unfair arms control deals that may reduce Russia's credible deterrence.13 During the discussion between Mr. Vladimir Putin and Mr. Bill Clinton in the first week of June 2000, the Russian President skilfully countered the US plan to build NMD by threatening to withdraw from all arms control agreements with the United States and the West if the US went ahead with building an NMD system. NATO expansion into Eastern Europe, the US led NATO air war on Yugoslavia, disputes over Iraq, Iran and Caspian Oil have strained the Russo-American relationship.14

The Russian relationship with the United States will always have a prominent place in Russian foreign policy priorities. Russia understands the dominant role of the United States in world affairs. Russia would prefer this role to be checked and balanced through international, regional and bilateral mechanisms. Russo-American bilateral relationship in the sphere of security and disarmament would help to create a peaceful and non-violent world.

iii) Terrorism and Islamic Fundamentalism

Terrorism and organised crime is a cancerous tumour squeezing the Russian society and state. The outgrowth of terrorism and organised crime is stifling investment in economy. The scale of terrorism has grown significantly after the break up of the erstwhile Soviet Union. In Russia, terrorism is operating through clandestine organisations with their own facilities to produce WMD. The frequent conflicts for power on the basis of ethnic national interests with the absence of an effective system for social prevention of transgression, inadequate legal material and technical base to prevent terrorism and organised crime and the exodus of qualified legal personnel from the law enforcing agencies is increasing the influence of this threat on the individual, society and the state.

The rise of religious Islamic extremism and violence in North Caucasus and Central Asia is significant to Russian security policy. Islamic extremists with ties to organisations in Afghanistan, Pakistan and other Muslim countries may begin to pose a serious threat to Russia's security. Islamic fundamentalism beyond Central Asia can instigate Islamic upheaval in the muslim majority areas of Russia like Tatarstan and Bashkortostan. The worsening situation in this sphere is linked to a variety of causes. The socio-economic crisis in the Russian Federation and in the Central Asian states, resulting in interethnic conflicts; power struggle among groups seeking to redistribute control over property and drastic decline of state control provide fertile soil for the growth of religious extremism. This may also be encouraged from the outside by Islamic movements and foundations that provide financial support and indoctrination.

In Chechnya the terrorists are getting outside support. Chechen-Ingushetia is a predominantly muslim enclave within the northern Caucasus region of Russia. The Dzhokar Dudayev leadership demonstrated strong commitment to political independence since 1991. In the final analysis it was the individual leadership and ideological commitment that clearly distinguished Chechnya from other Russian regions that have had conflicts and disputes with Moscow in the post Soviet years.15

The rise of 'Islamic factor' with ethno-nationalist aspirations may indeed constitute a real danger to the integrity of Russia. In the Russian Federation more than 10 percent of the population are Muslims and they are mainly in the north Caucasus region.16 Local wars and regional conflicts can cause serious threat to Russian national security interests. Conflict in Chechnya is a serious domestic challenge for the Russian armed forces. In the post Cold War breakup of the Soviet Union the present Chechen problem is destabilising the whole of North Caucasus. A number of villages in neighbouring Daghestan region have Islamic insurgents who want to establish an independent Islamic republic in Daghestan. The diverse ethnic composition of Daghestan makes the situation even more chaotic. The Russian armed forces have suffered great losses during their military campaign in this region. Extensive use of air strikes and artillery power has resulted in capture of Grozny, the capital of Chechnya. Islamic fighters of the Taliban and the Osama bin Laden group are in Chechnya. The decisive victory is still to come. Peaceful life is returning to the liberated areas of the Chechen republic. General Valery Manilov, First Deputy Chief of the General Staff estimated that 200-300 rebels remained in Grozny at the time of its takeover by Russian troops in January 2000. In Chechnya, Russian forces are still battling with 2,500 to 3,500 rebels.17 According to General Manilov, 2,508 Russian servicemen have died in combat fighting the rebels and in the same period rebel losses were about 14,000 men.18 During his visit to United Kingdom after winning the election, the Russian President Vladimir Putin strongly defended his country's intervention in Chechnya and said that the Russian forces were waging a legitimate battle against Islamic terrorism and he promised to investigate allegations of human rights abuses. After a meeting with the British Prime Minister Mr. Tony Blair, Mr. Putin said, "We do not consider our aims to be the enslavement of the Chechen people, the actions of Russia are a struggle against extremism."19 By using the Russian military might and playing the strong nationalist card President Putin is able to firmly deal with the Chechnya problem. The commander of the Russian military forces in Chechnya Colonel General Gennadi Troshev urged politicians to end the conflict in the breakaway Caucasian region. Recently, the Chechen leader Aslan Maskhadov was wounded badly and has called for peace talks to resolve the conflict. Colonel General Troshev said that Chechnya's elected parliament should put together a government to continue the struggle against 'terrorists' and restore the economy.20

The Caucasus and Central Asia are both conduits for the Islamic influence infiltrating from abroad. Rise of the Taliban is a cause of concern for Russia. Drugs are another serious problem. The export of drugs from Afghanistan through northwest Tajikistan into Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan and further West poses grave danger to the domestic law and order situation in Russia.21

iv) Disorganised Economy

The state of the Russian economy requires a deeper integration into the world economy through the economic and financial institutions. The Security Concept places particular emphasis on 'economic crisis' as a major threat to Russia's security. Due to the ageing and obsolete production technology, output has been extremely stagnant. Russia has other problems too. These include large scale tax evasion, crime syndicates, widespread corruption, a large number of general economic crimes, massive illegal outflow of foreign currency, huge deficits and cumulative foreign debts, long overdue wage payments, corrupt dealings in the privatisation process, shady relationships among big companies, politicians and high-ranking government officials, widening gulf between the rich and the poor and an increasing sense of social injustice and frustration among ordinary citizens. Russia suffers not only from economic stagnation but also from social disorder and lawlessness. Good relations with industrialised nations are instrumental to Mr. Putin's stated goal of re-building the Russian economy. Russia badly needs Western investment and long term rescheduling of its multi-billion foreign debt to sustain and speed up the economic growth.

The unofficial underground economy is present everywhere. Illegal cash has become a way of life in Russia. Practically every organisation in Russia, whether private or public, keeps two sets of books. The first is the official book, which is reported to the authorities and on which taxes are paid. The second is the unofficial kind, the 'accounting out of the safe', which is strictly cash and strictly unreported. The rise of the private sector in Russia has spun off the economy from 'non-cash to cash' illegally. Tax evasion is rampant in modern day Russia. The best way to evade taxes is to leave no paper trail, and the best way to do that is deal in hard currency. In Russia the most serious forms of crime are not crimes of violence but of money. It is really difficult to clean the unofficial underground economy because at the bottom it reflects society's mistrust of the state and its promises. The answer will depend on Mr. Putin's economic and tax reforms.22

v) Near-Abroad

The "Near-Abroad" concept refers to the fourteen non-Russian Soviet republics, which became independent states after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Near-Abroad stands for its diversity. Each republic has its own flavour of nationalism. Out of the fourteen non-Russian republics, with the exception of Belarus, three Baltic republics are not members of the CIS.23On September 14, 1995, former President Boris Yeltsin signed a decree confirming the Near-Abroad a "priority area" because of the 'vital interests' that Russia had in the area's 'security, economics and defence of Russians living abroad'. Russia's national security depends strongly on the degree of economic, political and military stability in neighbouring countries. Yeltsin gave top priority for a stronger relationship of Russia with the West, the Baltic States and the CIS countries. The issue of ethnic Russians in the post Soviet era has made Russia negotiate with individual CIS countries. Considerable volatility in the Central Asian region and the Russian involvement may not always be a matter of choice but of necessity. Significantly, Russia has the military and political potential to reduce the conflicts in this area or to minimise their spillover effects. Sometimes Russia's role in this area is to act as an'external stabiliser' of domestic turbulence in some CIS countries. Indeed Russia has to play a very delicate role, especially in the overall context of the CIS countries intending in pursuing a more independent and diversified policy. Democratic Russia has to prevent the hostile forces (Islamic fundamentalism, ethno-nationalism) from crossing over across its border.24

The weakening of research in strategic spheres and exodus of specialists and intellectual property abroad threaten Russia with the loss of its prestigious status. In the uneasy atmosphere of society and the state, the legal space is continuously being undermined. There has been a demographic imbalance. Russia's life expectancy has declined stunningly and infant mortality rate has gone up. Since the early nineties infectious diseases which were wiped out in the West like measles, typhoid-fever, syphilis, dysentery, hepatitis, diphtheria, etc. have started taking their toll.

Structure of National Security Decision-Making

The Constitution of the Russian Federation, federal laws, decrees and instructions of the President of the Russian Federation, resolutions and instructions of the government of the Russian Federation and several federal programmes lay down the basis for creation and development of the system of ensuring national security of the Russian Federation. The core group consists of the agencies, forces that take political, legal, organisational, economic and military measures in fulfilling the security of the individual, society and the state. The composition of the agencies and the forces and their principles and procedures for operation are again stipulated in the corresponding legislative acts of the Russian Federation.25

The President of the Russian Federation acts within the framework of his constitutional powers to guide the agencies and forces, sanctions the actions designed to ensure national security, initiates reforms and liquidates the agencies and forces, issues statements, addresses and directives on problems of national security, amends the individual provisions of the National Security Concept in his annual addresse to the Federal Assembly; thereby determining the directions of the domestic and foreign policy of Russia. The Federal Assembly acts on the basis of the Constitution and on presidential and government recommendations. The government of the Russian Federation prioritises its national security policies and takes necessary actions in the implementation.26

The Security Council of the Russian Federation acts to ensure pre-emptive determination and evaluation of threats to the national security by promptly drafting decisions on preventing them. Also it coordinates and controls the operation of the agencies in implementing the decisions. Federal bodies ensure the implementation of the legislation and decisions in the sphere of national security.27

Military Doctrine

The Russian Security Council ensures pre-emptive determination and evaluation of threats and promptly drafts decisions on preventing them for the President of the Russian Federation as well as proposing specific individual provisions in the National Security Concept, coordinating the operation of the agencies and implementing the decisions. On February 4, 2000 Russia's Security Council adopted a military doctrine. The document includes the latest changes that have taken place in the world since 1993 – when the previous doctrine was adopted. The 1993 military doctrine has been in force for seven years. The Russian Security Council and President Putin endorsed the new military doctrine on April 21, 2000. The Russian leadership believes that today the danger of a nuclear war is much less than what it was in 1993, but the 'nuclear threshold' has not subsided. On the nuclear issue, the military doctrine highlights that nuclear weapons can be used only if there has been an act of aggression against Russia and when conventional means are exhausted. In other words, Russia will never use nuclear weapons unless an act of aggression is committed against it, thus clarifying its 'nuclear weapons' use policy. The 1997 national security concept allowed the first use of nuclear arms only "in case of a threat to the existence of the Russian Federation".28 This military doctrine has also taken into account the basic tenets of the national security concept. The term 'military security' has replaced the term 'defence security' which was used in the 1993 doctrine. Viktor Yesin, Chief of the military construction directorate of the Russian Security Council has this to say, " There should be no more illusion, even if there were the most favorable conditions and Russia achieved considerable progress in the military and economic spheres, it would never be able to confront NATO as an equal with the help of conventional weapons. This is why our new military doctrine clearly states that the security of our country will be ensured by the entire package of means at our disposal. However, Russia will not use nuclear weapons if there is no aggression".29

In the present doctrine twelve new external threats and six internal ones have been reflected. In the formulation of this doctrine the latest events in the North Caucasus have played a vital role in bringing out the possible internal threats, which requires concrete military solutions.30

The experience of Chechnya reflects a realistic approach to the new internal situation. The new military doctrine defines the purposes of using armed forces and other troops in internal armed conflicts as destruction and elimination of illegal armed formations and creation of conditions for elimination of armed conflicts on the basis of the Constitution of the Russian Federation and existing federal legislations. This doctrine includes a provision on the establishment of a temporary joint body for controlling all defence personnel. The doctrine will specify the Concept's provisions with regard to the military area. Politically this doctrine emphasises that Russia views all states in the world as its partners. With all member states of the United Nations, Russia intends to develop mutually advantageous military-technical cooperation. However, special preference is to be given to the members of the CIS and also to old allies and strategic partners like China and India. For the first time in Russian history the new military doctrine speaks of the country's single military organisation. Its integral and inseparable components: the armed forces, the defence enterprises, and the agencies, which command and control the system and the scientific-industrial potential. The new Russian military doctrine has no intention to extend the sphere of Russian interests to the whole world; instead it is the defending of the security of Russia and its allies from external and internal threats that is important. In the Soviet era, expansion of Soviet interests meant spread of the Communist ideology on a global scale. But in the non-communist Russian Federation there is no such ideological expansionist compulsion. More importantly, this new doctrine aims at protecting and advancing the country's interests by reforming the armed forces, including their hardware, which is possible only through injection of appropriate finance.31

The Russian National Security Concept and Military Doctrine point out in light of the changing relationship of Russia with leading world powers that 'the threat of large-scale aggression against Russia is practically absent in the foreseeable future'. Thus, threats to national security of Russia are mainly non-military in character. The military doctrine and the national security concept are closely correlated.

The disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991 resulted in an unprecedented economic crisis in Russia with socio-politico demographic calamities also having their reflection in the military industrial complex as well. The highly integrated defence industry and the armed forces of the former Soviet Union (FSU) fell apart for the first time, increasing the feelings of vulnerability in the minds of many strategically minded Russians.

The Russian defence industry is in the process of an economic boom. The structural nature of the Russian defence industry is undergoing tremendous change. Privatisation has developed rapidly to the extent that the majority of defence-sector enterprises have gone public and are now joint-stock companies. Many defence enterprises can substantially generate income to fund their restructuring. There is a rising tide within the Russian defence industry to acknowledge the new reality of defence competitiveness in the international arena. Collaborations and cooperation with other defence industry is the main principle of the Russian defence industry, making optimum use of its highly skilled scientific-technical potential in stimulating the national economic growth. To a significant degree the defence industry in Russia has achieved the strategic superiority in maintaining a reasonable sufficiency for defence. The defence scientific industrial complex has realised the long-term military-technical strategy of Russia and it is continuing its pursuit of integrating military and civilian sectors of the economy through effective utilisation of the state resources. Conversion, Privatisation and Corporatisation are the three major aspects of Russian defence industry reforms. The new Russia with its dynamic market economy is taking into account the priorities of socio-economic development and the demands of preserving its national security that includes significant reforms of the defence industry. The transformation process is working steadily and the West is providing financial, legal and technical assistance in the conversion process, which is mutually beneficial business cooperation.32

Policy Options

Russia's loss of political, military and economic importance in the international sphere has focused on the need to define the foreign policy of the new Russia.

The Concept paper says that pursuing an active foreign policy, Russia has to:

l reinforce the key mechanisms of multi-lateral organisations specially the United Nations;

l creating favourable conditions for the economic and social development of the country and the maintenance of global and regional stability;

l protecting the legitimate rights and interests of Russian citizens abroad;

l developing relations with countries who are members of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in accordance with the principles of international law;

l ensuring the full fledged involvement of Russia in global and regional economic and political structures;

l contributing to the settlement of conflicts under the auspices of the UN peacekeeping operations;

l ensuring progress in the sphere of nuclear arms control and maintaining strategic stability in the world on the basis of the fulfilment of international obligations by other states;

l fulfilling mutual obligations in the sphere of reducing and liquidating WMD and conventional weapons, thereby creating proper confidence building measures;

l ensuring international control on the export of military technologies;

l adjusting the existing agreements on arms control and disarmament to the new conditions in international relations;

l assisting in the creation of WMD free zone;

l developing international cooperation in the sphere of combating transnational crime and terrorism.33

The Russian Federation prefers political, diplomatic, economic and non military measures in preventing wars and armed conflicts. The national interest of the Russian Federation requires the armed forces to play the key role in ensuring its military security by deterring aggressions of any scale against it or its allies including with the use of nuclear weapons. The Russian Federation has nuclear forces capable of delivering specific damage to any aggressor state or a coalition of states in any situation. This reinforces that Russia is a nuclear superpower. The peacetime combat composition of the armed forces of the Russian Federation must suffice in ensuring reliable protection from possible air attacks acting jointly with other troops, military formations and agencies. For ensuring the military security of the Russian Federation it has to initiate effective collaboration and cooperation with countries which are the members of CIS. The deployment of limited military contingents in some of the strategically important regions of the world facilitates the creation of a stable military strategic balance of Russia with other states in attaining national security.34

Restructuring and reform is a serious challenge, that the Russian armed forces are facing today. On December 17, 1997 former President Boris Yeltsin approved 'National Security Concept' which was further developed in a Presidential policy document known as the 'Fundamentals of Russian Federation State Policy for Military Development upto the year 2005'.35 According to the Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) the first phase of military reform was completed by the end of 1999, which involved reduction in personnel, and the reorganisation of the military districts and the armed forces command structure. The next phase upto 2001 is to focus on operational readiness and modernisation of equipment. The defence minister of the Russian Federation Marshal Igor Sergeyev announced force reductions upto 1.2 million personnel in April 1999 assuring no further cuts in the near future, rather enlarging some of the units within the reduced overall force level.36 As there has been reduction of external aggression to Russia's national security for at least ten to fifteen years the main threat is the socio-economic instability.

With regard to the use of military force, in ensuring national security:

l the use of all available means and forces including nuclear weapons to repel an armed aggression when all other means of settling the crisis situation have been exhausted or proved ineffective;

l within the country the use of military force is possible under the Constitution of the Russian Federation and federal laws in case of threat to the life of citizens and to the territorial integrity of the country, or in case there is a threat of violent change of the constitutional regime.37

According to the Concept paper, the primary tasks of the Russian Federation in the border sphere are:

l to create a requisite normative legal base;

l to develop international cooperation in this sphere;

l to resist the economic, demographic, cultural and religious expansion into the territory of the Russian Federation by the other states;

l to preclude the operation of transnational organisations of organised crime and illegal migration;

l to take collective measures in ensuring the security of the border space of the countries, which are the members of CIS.38

In the area of information security the national security concept ensures:

l to implement the constitutional rights and freedoms of the citizens in the sphere of information;

l to improve and protect the national information infrastructure and integrate Russia into the world information network;

l to counter the threat of the development of rivalry in the information sphere.

All this can be done by the effective use of intelligence and counter intelligence with the purpose of promptly revealing threats and determining their sources.39


Russian views of the international system have an Eurasian texture. Culturally and civilisationally Russia is an European country. But, Russia cannot negate its Asiatic role. In other words, although geographically it is more Asian, politically it is more European. Six vital Eurasian areas lie along Russia's borderline—Eastern Europe, South West Europe and the Balkans, West Asia, Central Asia, South Asia and the Far East. An Eurasian giant, Russia has interests in these regions and at the same time interacts with multilateral interdependence considerations.

Russian economic integration into the world economy is the first priority condition for the survival of the country and the salvation of the nation. Without economic rebirth, Russia cannot become a full-fledged member of the club of the great powers at the beginning of the 21st Century, and consequently, it will be more difficult for it to defend its own interests in the international arena. In the economic sphere there has been considerable reduction in investment and innovation activities, growing domestic and foreign debts, unstable financial and banking system and stagnation in the agrarian sector. In the research and technical sphere there has been an exodus of specialists from Russia threatening Russia in the research and technical field with a great loss. By radically simplifying the code and slashing rates, Putin hopes to raise collections by cutting down the corruption that has left his government starving for revenue. The dysfunctional personal income tax is to be replaced by a simple flat tax. This will encourage the people to pay taxes and make it easier for the government to track down those who do not pay taxes. This economic reform of streamlining the Russian taxation system, would increase the inflow of revenue and thus will be of great help to the Russian government in tackling chronic problems like failing health-care, poverty of millions of elderly citizens and erratic law enforcement.40

To win the West's trust, Mr. Putin has manoeuvred tactfully in getting the START-II and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) ratified by the Russian Parliament. Putin has also resumed Russia's contact with NATO, which was freezed, after the Alliances attacked Yugoslavia last year, by overruling objections from the Russian military.

The new Russia as a sovereign state in the international arena has at least three important tasks to perform: to prevent a further disintegration of the country, economic recovery, and to build up a relationship with other states on mutual beneficiary lines. Russia is going through a period of transition. Profound domestic changes have produced a number of factors, which have started influencing Russian foreign policy like—strong public opinion, interests of the regions, the Foreign Ministry, the Defence Ministry, the oil and gas companies and other actors. Russian state power needs to be organised to tackle the growing organised crime and terrorism, which is posing a threat to civil society and to national security as well. The scale of terrorism and crime is growing due to the frequent conflicts over change of property and the struggle for power on the basis of group and ethnic national interests.

Russia after Yeltsin is definitely looking for a new foundation. Russian foreign policy will have to show sufficient amount of broad consensus on Russia's basic goals and interests, geo-strategic understanding of the international system and work decisively for a stable international order. The new Russian leadership under the new President Vladimir V Putin will have to assert the right to influence political, economic and security decisions in the international arena, to see that Russia remains a power to reckon with. Should Russia regard itself as a member of the European or North American world community, or maintain a distinctive 'Eurasian' stance? No matter how the West sees Russia, on its part Russia is taking considerable political and diplomatic steps to promote a 'pan European security architecture'. In this context Russia's foreign and security policy can be broadly defined in terms of ensuring its vital domestic needs, by preserving its territorial integrity and maintaining its economic sustainability.



1. Leon Aron, "The Foreign Policy Doctrine of Postcommunist Russia and its Domestic Context" in Michael Mandelbaum ed., The New Russian Foreign Policy (New York: Council on Foreign Relations Book, 1998) pp. 25-27. Also see, Peter Shearman "Defining the National Interest: Russian Foreign Policy and Domestic Politics" in Roger E. Kanet & Alexander V. Kozhemiakin ed., The Foreign Policy of the Russian Federation (London: Macmillan Press Ltd. 1997) pp. 1-25.

2. Ibid. p. 32.

3. Ibid. p. 30.

4. "Russia adopts New Security Concept; appears to lower nuclear threshold" Arms Control Today, January/February 2000, p. 23.

5. "National Security Concept of the Russian Federation", Rossiiskaya Gazeta, January. 18, 2000, Information Department, Embassy of Russian Federation in India, New Delhi.

6. Ibid.

7. Ibid.

8. Ibid.

9. Sherman W. Garnett, "Europe's Crossroads: Russia and the West in the New Borderlands" in Michael Mandelbaum ed., The New Russian Foreign Policy (New York: Council on Foreign Relations Book, 1998) p. 88.

10. Vladimir G. Baranovsky and Alexei G. Arbatov, "The Changing Security Perspective in Europe" in Arbatov Kaiser & Legvold eds., Russia and the West-the 21st Century Security Environment ( New York: East West Institute, 1999) p. 59.

11. Ibid., pp. 60- 64. Also see News from Russia, vol. III, no. 7, Information Department, Embassy of Russian Federation in India, New Delhi, p. 17.

12. Michael R. Gordon, "Old missile defense issue haunts US and Russia", International Herald Tribune, April 26, 2000. Also see,Vladimir Radyuhin, "START-II a boost to Putin" , The Hindu, April 15, 2000. High price for START-II –Editorial, International Herald Tribune, April 18, 2000, "Russia-EU-NATO missile shield needed: Putin", The Hindustan Times, June 7, 2000. "You have sword, I need shield", The Economist, April 29, 2000, pp. 34-35. "A shield in space", The Economist, June 3, 2000, pp. 19-21.

13. Andrei Shoumikhin, "Current Russian Perspectives on Arms Control and Ballistic Missile Defense", Comparative Strategy, vol.18, no.1, January-March, 1999, pp.49-57.

14. Vladimir Radyuhin, "Putin takes the wind out of Clinton's sails", The Hindu, June 11, 2000.

15. Mikhail A. Alexseev, "Conclusion: Asymmetric Russia: Promises and Dangers", in Mikhail A. Alexseev ed., Center-Periphery Conflict in Post-Soviet Russia (London: Macmillan Press Ltd. 1999) p.257.

16. Vyacheslav Belokrenitsky, "Russian-Afghan relations" in Gennady Chufrin ed., Russia and Asia-The Emerging Security Agenda (Sweden:SIPRI,OUP, 1999) p. 201.

17. Vladimir Radyuhin, "Russia admits heavy losses in Chechnya", The Hindu, March 12, 2000.

18. See Fred Weir, "2,508 Russian soldiers died in Chechen war", The Hindustan Times, August 5, 2000.

19. Tom Buerkle, "Putin, meeting Blair, is firm on Chechnya", International Herald Tribune, April 18, 2000.

20. "General urges end to Chechen Conflict", International Herald Tribune, June 7, 2000.

21. Belokrenitsky, n. 16. pp. 201-203.

22. Thane Gustafson, Capitalism Russian-Style (UK:Cambridge University Press, 1999) pp.203-206. Also see, "Russia's Tax Plan", Editorial, International Herald Tribune, May 29, 2000.

23. Robert H. Donaldson & Joseph L. Nogee, The Foreign Policy of Russia-Changing Systems, Enduring Interests (New York: M.E. Sharpe, 1998) pp. 155-156.

24. Leon Aron, "The Foreign Policy Doctrine of Postcommunist Russia and its Domestic Context" in Michael Mandelbaum ed., The New Russian Foreign Policy (New York: Council on Foreign Relations Book, 1998) pp. 33-42.

25. n.5.

26. Ibid.

27. Ibid.

28. n.4.

29. See Sergei Ishchenko, "To the new century with a new Military Doctrine", Trud, April 24, 2000, Information Department, Embassy of Russian Federation in India, New Delhi.

30. News from Russia, vol. III no. 6, Information Department, Embassy of Russian Federation in India, New Delhi, pp. 3-6.

31. Ibid.

32. Clifford G. Gaddy, The Price of the Past (Washington D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 1996) p.183. Also see, Kevin O' Prey, A Farewell to Arms (New York: Twentieth Century press, 1995) pp. 85-91.

33. n.5.

34. Ibid.

35. Military Balance1998-1999, IISS, OUP, London, 1998, p. 108.

36. Military Balance1999-2000, IISS, OUP, London, 1999, p.104.

37. n.5.

38. Ibid.

39. Ibid.

40. "Russia's tax plan" Editorial, International Herald Tribune, May 29, 2000.