News / Europe

    New Russian Strategy Document Calls NATO a 'Threat'

    FILE - Russian President Vladimir Putin (r) speaks with the Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, Valery Gerasimov, at a meeting with top military officials in the National Defense Control Center in Moscow, Dec. 11, 2015.
    FILE - Russian President Vladimir Putin (r) speaks with the Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, Valery Gerasimov, at a meeting with top military officials in the National Defense Control Center in Moscow, Dec. 11, 2015.
    Danila Galperovich

    On December 31, President Vladimir Putin signed off on a new national security strategy for Russia that unequivocally identifies NATO as a threat.  The new strategy, observers say, reflects the recent deterioration in relations between Russia and the West, following Moscow's annexation of Crimea and support for separatists in eastern Ukraine, as well as its more recent military intervention in Syria.

    The 40-page document is generally harsh in tone, focusing on what it characterizes as Russia's isolation in the current international system.  In addition, it gives clear priority to state interests over personal interests. It emphasizes the need to guarantee "the inviolability of the constitutional order, the sovereignty, independence, government and territorial integrity of the Russian Federation."

    US, both opponent and partner

    The strategy document takes a two sided approach to the United States. On the one hand, it says that Russia's "independent" foreign and domestic policy has "provoked opposition from the United States and its allies, which are seeking to maintain their dominance in world affairs." It condemns the United States for continuing to deploy anti-missile defenses, accuses it of supporting an "anti-constitutional coup" in Ukraine and even claims that "a network of U.S. military-biological laboratories" is being expanded on the territory of states neighboring Russia.

    On the other hand, the document goes on to say that Russia is interested in building a full partnership with the United States. It notes the need to further develop arms control and confidence building measures related to nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The new strategy also calls for expanded cooperation" in fighting terrorism and resolving regional conflicts.

    The call to partnership is almost at the end of the document.

    'Threat' from NATO

    Taking aim at the Western military alliance, the new Russian national security strategy describes a "buildup" of power on the part of NATO, "imparting to it global functions undertaken in violation of the norms of international law, the intensification of military activities of the bloc countries, the further expansion of the alliance, the approach of its military infrastructure up to Russia's borders." Russia says all of this is a threat to its national security.

    FILE - Flags flutter in front of soldiers taking positions with their army vehicles during the NATO Noble Jump exercise on a training range near Swietoszow Zagan, Poland, June 18, 2015.
    FILE - Flags flutter in front of soldiers taking positions with their army vehicles during the NATO Noble Jump exercise on a training range near Swietoszow Zagan, Poland, June 18, 2015.


    Writing in The National Interest Thomas Fedyszyn, a professor of national security affairs at the Naval War College, says that the document fails to note that NATO decided to bolster its rapid reaction force "in direct response to Russian revanchism [a foreign policy aimed at the regaining of lost territories] in Crimea and Ukraine, several months after the aggressions occurred."

    Fedyszyn, who served as U.S. Naval Attaché to Russia and two tours of duty at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, also notes that NATO troops in Poland and the Baltic states are "rotational," not permanently-stationed forces, and that their numbers "are dwarfed by Russian counterparts across the border."

    'Defensive-aggressive'

    Alexander Konovalov, president of the Moscow-based Institute for Strategic Assessments, noted in an interview with VOA that the new strategy document reflects Russia's international isolation since it no longer seeks to connect with either former Soviet countries or those in central Asia.

    "In the previous strategy, the priority in foreign policy and security policy was given clearly, directly in the text, to cooperation with the CSTO [the Collective Security Treaty Organization, which includes, Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan], with some Asian countries - the SCO [the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which includes China, Russia and four Central Asian countries] was mentioned. This time I found no mention of the priority of cooperation with CSTO member states, the widely publicized turn to the East."

    Alexander Golts, a Moscow-based independent military expert, said the new national security strategy is more "defensive-aggressive" than its predecessors.

    "The ideology of the document is that Russia is ringed by enemies; Russia is resisting Western countries, which don't like that it is conducting an independent and autonomous foreign policy," he told VOA. "It explicitly states that if Russia cannot achieve its goals using diplomatic and political means, it may resort to military means."

    Still, Golts said he is sure that the document approved by Putin is not a practical guide for the Russian governmental bodies responsible for national security.

    "It is necessary to understand that such documents in Russia are purely bureaucratic," he said. "A meticulous researcher could find signs here of conflicting points of view between different bureaucratic clans. But you have to understand that this 'strategy' does not represent the thinking of Russia's leaders: it is what Russia's leaders want to convey to the world about their views, so that the world thinks this is how they are thinking."

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Anonymous
    January 06, 2016 5:29 PM
    1- NATO was supposed to be a 'defensive organization', defending members. But, that changed when NATO 'attacked' Afghanistan and then Libya.

    2- NATO was supposed to stop expansion after the cold war was ended. But NATO kept expanding.

    So, NATO should be called a 'Threat' in any country's strategy, not just Russia's.
    NATO has become aggressive and has taken an expansionist stance, NATO is a thread to everyone.

    by: Anonymous
    January 06, 2016 11:56 AM
    1- NATO was supposed to be a 'defensive organization', defending members. But, that changed when NATO 'attacked' Afghanistan and then Libya.

    2- NATO was supposed to stop expansion after the cold war was ended. But NATO kept expanding.


    So, NATO should be called a 'Threat' in any country's strategy, not just Russia's.
    NATO has become aggressive and has taken an expansionist stance, NATO is a thread to everyone.

    by: Marcus Aurelius II from: NJ USA
    January 05, 2016 8:41 PM
    Containing Russia within its borders is a tough and nasty job but the alternative is to allow the USSR evil empire to arise from the ashes like the Phoenix from hell. This is why so many of its former slave colonies want to join NATO, they fear the bear. The bear has no one to blame but itself.

    The document acknowledges what Putin has denied, that Russia is isolated. It has repelled the very help it needs to prosper by posing a threat to Europe. It faces a huge alliance whose main purpose is to counter its own threats. Ukraine is not the only example, Georgia and Transnistria are two others. The only language Putin seems to understand is force, the threat of force greater than his own, and the political will to use it. That will is what he badly misjudged, a fatal error.
    In Response

    by: Marcus Aurelius II from: NJ USA
    January 06, 2016 12:26 PM
    I don't think Bangladesh is in any immediate jeopardy of being attacked by NATO so don't let it keep you up at night worrying.

    Most Russians and Chinese will never live to the same standards as Americans. Even our definition of poverty is different. The US is in a self induced economic slump. Somehow it always manages to rescue itself. We expect that it will again. Russia remains a largely backward country with a shrinking economy and population. Putin felt rich when oil was expensive. Now, Russia is headed back to where it was in USSR times. China deludes itself. It's wealth was the result of skimming profits from real corporate technological engines, principally American. As those engines move elsewhere and the demand for their current products slow down, China's enormous debt will crash its economy leaving it the world's largest toxic chemical sewer. There is no known way to clean up China. The problem is just too large and too complex.
    In Response

    by: KoreyD from: Canada
    January 06, 2016 12:26 PM
    It is Nato and America that are world threats. America is a brutal society (remember, 1,134 people killed by their own police in one year) both at home and abroad. This is a country which has killed at least 6 million people over the last half century abroad, virtually all the killing to no purpose other than America's trying to have its own way in places as distant as Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Chile, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, and still others.
    Much of the killing was savage beyond description, employing napalm, white phosphorus, Agent Orange, carpet bombing, and hideous cluster bombs. It also remains the only country ever to use nuclear weapons, twice, on civilian targets of no military significance, and this after Japan had clearly made feelers for surrender. No, only unconditional surrender was acceptable. And a series of 12 atomic bombs for 12 cities was scheduled.
    It is, by far, the world’s largest arms dealer, literally dwarfing the trade of any well-known country, and it sells its arms to tyrants across the planet enabling players like Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey, or Egypt to greatly expand the total number of deaths for which America is responsible. It also spends as much on its military as all of the world’s other societies combined. It is an obscene amount of money dedicated to the ability to kill and to oppress.
    In Response

    by: RAHMAN ZIAUR from: Bangladesh
    January 06, 2016 2:20 AM
    Nato expansion is a real threat to world peace because that organization contain only thugs which are trying to invade other weaker countries' sovereignty. They go to your country, bombing, killing and destructing without asking for permission from your government or UN members. It is a real threat not only to Russia but also to other nations as well.
    In Response

    by: meanbill from: USA
    January 05, 2016 11:05 PM
    Hey Marcus _ Only the US wants to extend the cold war, and Russia and China only want to have the economy and living conditions for their people like the US and western Europeans enjoy? .. No countries or their people want wars anymore, and nobody wants to build empires like they did in the past, [and now], the only enemies that the world faces today, are the terrorists the US and NATO has been trying to defeat for 15 years without doing it? .. The US is so paranoid, they see enemies everywhere? .. The US is their own worst enemy? .. and that makes them a dangerous threat?

    by: Anonymous
    January 05, 2016 4:38 PM
    Of course NATO is a threat to Russian territorial expansion, that's why it was formed. Give Putin a subscription to Duh Magazine.

    by: Kris
    January 05, 2016 3:22 PM
    The behavior of the United States in the last 15 years it's no surprise NATO is a threat. NATO expansion will only lead to the United States having a false sense of confidence that it can behave like it has and the destruction of the world. All short term thinking in the US state department like the thinking that now has the whole middle east at the brink of war and terrorists everywhere. The US has lost it's leadership in the world, military, economically and most important morally.

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