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Friday, 5 February 2010

Russia’s New Military Doctrine Approved


Russia reserves the right to use nuclear weapons in response to the use of any types of weapons of mass destruction against it or any of its allies. President Medvedev has approved Russia’s new military doctrine.

Along with the policy for nuclear deterrence the two documents outline Moscow’s approach to military conflicts and use of nuclear weapons through 2020.

The news came following a session of the National Security Council, where the Russian president announced his approval to other members. The texts of the documents were published on the Russian president's official website, Kremlin.ru, on Friday. The date of its publication, February 5, appeared to be quite symbolic – it coincided with the start of the 46th Munich Security Conference, which is focused on the future of global and European security.

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Earlier, several officials involved in the creation of Russia’s new military doctrine said it would provide more liberties in terms of the use of nuclear weapons. Stronger reliance on nuclear deterrence is to compensate for the downsizing of the Russian armed forces. The military reduction, however, is part of a major military reform, which is aimed at making the army better equipped to meet modern challenges.

Experts’ opinion:

Sergey Utkin, Research Fellow at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations:

“I think the doctrine itself is partly a PR stand. People issue these sorts of documents for the general public to read them. It’s obviously not for the military staff and I hope it won’t affect relations with the West, because it is anti-Western to a certain extent. I also hope that most of the Western countries, NATO countries, will perceive it more as rhetoric.”

Ruslan Pukhov, Director of the Moscow-based Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies:

“In fact the new doctrine – especially in terms of use of nuclear weapons – is even milder than the previous one approved back in 1993. Back then Russia abandoned the Soviet principle not to use nuclear weapons first and stated it could be the first to use it in case of some critical threat to its national security. Now the new doctrine says “in response to the use of any types of weapons of mass destruction,” which is already a precondition that hadn’t existed before. We also understand that both chemical and biological types of weapons are almost never used nowadays, so it’s practically about nuclear attack only. I would even regard that softened wording as a concession to the international community.”

Russia’s biggest military threats

“Despite the decrease in the possibility of unleashing a large-scale aggression using conventional arms and nuclear weapons against the Russian Federation, military threats to the Russian Federation have increased in a number of areas,” reads the document.

According to the new doctrine, Russia views the expansion of NATO as a primary threat to its security, as well as part of a tendency to give NATO global security functions.

Another threat mentioned is the deployment of the strategic missile defense system that undermines international stability and violates the established balance of forces.

Arms deployment in space and the creation of new high-precision conventional weapons are also listed as threats in the doctrine.

Experts’ opinion:

Ruslan Pukhov, Director of the Moscow-based Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies:

“First of all, we never know how the world will look like in 10 years. Secondly, even now there are several states that claim part of Russia’s territory to be their national territory – for instance, Japan. Also, the border hasn’t been demarked with some of Russia’s neighbors, so we cannot exclude that some international alliance can use armed forces against Russia and it will have to defend itself.”

Alexander Nikitin, Director of the Center for Euro-Atlantic Security of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations:

“There are indeed at least a few areas where the potential dangers for Russia have increased. First of all it’s clearly the territories of Afghanistan and Pakistan. In the past few years the control of the Kabul government over the regions of the country dramatically decreased. So there are probabilities of expansion of various military threats from those uncontrolled provinces toward the north of Central Asia, where Russia created a military alliance with five former Soviet states. No wonder that the last exercises of the Collective Security Treaty Organization were focused on prevention of interference by unauthorized armed groups and gangs from the territories of nearby Islamic states into the territory of Central Asia.”

“We should also understand that the appearance of nuclear weapons in the hands of such states as Pakistan and North Korea, with their unpredictable policies, creates new type of threat in comparison to the times of the Cold War.”

Russia’s possible response

The new doctrine stipulates Russia's right to use its armed forces beyond its borders “for the purpose of the protection of the interests of the Russian Federation and its citizens, as well as the maintenance of international peace and security.”

Threats to the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation and to its constitutional order are also mentioned as potential tasks for the military to deal with.

Experts’ opinion:

Ruslan Pukhov, Director of the Moscow-based Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies:

“I believe nobody should be surprised about those response measures. The US and France openly reserve their right to protect their citizens abroad, so why shouldn’t Russia do the same? I believe it’s a good sign anyway that we act honestly and publicly, openly stating our rights before we need to implement them, and not when it comes to action.”

Alexander Nikitin, Director of the Center for Euro-Atlantic Security of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations:

“Actually, most countries, including most former Soviet states, as well as most European and Asian states – all of them follow the regular practice of the UN, that military forces can be used abroad under certain conditions. Even the UN Charter, which prohibits the use of force outside national borders, has two exceptions. The first exception is Article 51, which allows for the use of military forces for self-defense – that was exactly how Americans explained the start of their operation in Afghanistan back in 2001; the second case is Chapter 7 of the UN charter, where the use of force can be used collectively by a group of nations in the case of clear and present danger to international security caused by any state or any political regime. That was the case with Iraq, which Russia had supported. So the principle is not new at all, and even loyal to the UN Charter, as you can see. Besides, there is a common principle in international law that a country can use all means, including military ones, in case its citizens are attacked somewhere abroad. This is exactly the case with the American operation in Grenada in 1983, with numerous operations to free diplomats taken hostage in various embassies, and finally with Russia’s military involvement in South Ossetia in August last year.

New Russian military strategy names NATO as chief threat

Russian president Dmitry Medvedev on Friday signed a new version of its main military strategy document which named NATO expansion as one of the chief threats to the country's security

The document, published on the Kremlin web site, listed first among "chief outside military threats" the fact that NATO is attempting to "globalise its functions in contravention of international law."

It also cited attempts to bring "military infrastructure of NATO members closer to Russian borders, including by expanding the bloc."

Russia has bristled at moves by former Soviet republics such as Georgia and Ukraine to join NATO and relations between NATO and Moscow plunged to a post-Cold War low after the August 2008 war between Russia and Georgia.

Other threats are named as creation and deployment of missile-defence systems and "high-precision conventional weapon systems.

Russia was fiercely opposed to the now-shelved US plan to deploy missile defence facilities in Central Europe.

Since the 1991 Soviet collapse, Russian military planners have relied increasingly on the country's huge nuclear deterrent as the capabilities of its conventional forces have deteriorated.

Efforts to develop a new military doctrine in recent years have coincided with plans for a radical modernisation of Russia's armed forces. © 2005 Agence France-Presse


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