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The Doctrine of the Future

The concluding section of the military doctrine contains an assurance of the defensive and peaceful intentions of the Russian Federation and of its intention to adhere strictly to the UN Charter and the tenets of international law. However, the conclusion also states that this document will be supplemented, adjusted, and improved as Russian statehood is established and as a new system of international relations is formed.

Assumedly, the nature of such changes would depend on Russia's success in achieving another primary goal: preserving the basis of military power inherited from the Soviet Union and setting the stage for making the Russian Federation a major military power after the turn of the century. The view of the future contained in the doctrine is projected against specific time lines. The new Russian armed forces and the basis for their military power are projected to be in place by 2000, when a new, and presumably more assertive, military doctrine is promised. Serious consideration of the content of a more permanent doctrine was not expected to begin until a new government was in place after the 1996 presidential election.

Meanwhile, early in 1996 the government-supported Institute for Defense Studies produced a set of "conceptual theses" on Russia's national security against external threats. Although not a formal outline for a new military doctrine, experts saw the theses as an important indication of current military thought.

The 1996 report lists four major threats to Russia's national security: interference in its internal affairs by the United States and its allies; political and economic penetration of Azerbaijan by Turkey and its Western allies; expansion of NATO into Central Europe, the Baltic states, and ultimately Ukraine; and unilateral disarmament of Russia through forced treaties, modification of the existing Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM Treaty--see Glossary), degradation of existing Russian strategic weapons systems and research and development centers, or obstructions to the integration of the CIS.

Among "recommended strategies" to neutralize such threats, the report lists refusing to work with the International Monetary Fund (IMF--see Glossary) and the World Bank (see Glossary), preventing Western access to Caspian Sea oil, establishing a military alliance of CIS members to block NATO expansion (and invading the Baltic states if they try to join NATO), and deploying tactical nuclear weapons in the Caucasus, Baltic, or Far North regions. The report also recommends enlarging Russia's stockpile of strategic nuclear weapons when the limits of phase one of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START--see Glossary) end in 2009. The particular concern with NATO expansion drives several of these proposals, and comments made in 1996 by top military officials confirm that a set of active responses has been prepared for such an eventuality (see The NATO Issue, this ch.). However, experts see both the Institute for Defense Studies report and supporting statements by military authorities as part of a pattern of pressure applied to potential new NATO states to discourage them from pursuing membership.

In June 1996, the office of the president's national security adviser, Yuriy Baturin, released a draft statement on national security policy goals for the period 1996-2000 that indicated a less aggressive approach to the next military doctrine. The document's authors recognized that Russia faces no external threat, stressing instead that Russia's chief national security need is to strengthen the Russian state economically and politically rather than to maintain military parity with the West. Because the United States no longer is interested in manipulating European geopolitics, according to the document, it is now safe to make concessions--including arms reduction treaties--in the search for balanced and cooperative relations (see The United States, ch. 8). The NATO expansion issue was recognized as the chief obstacle to achieving such relations in 1996. Although the draft policy statement was generally pro-Western, it assigned the highest value to relations with the CIS rather than the West. Experts saw the draft as an attempt to counter the nationalist faction that continues to emphasize military power as the most important element of national security and whose position was forcefully stated in the report of the Institute for Defense Studies.

The Geopolitical Context

According to the Ministry of Defense, between 1991 and 1995 the Soviet Union and then Russia withdrew about 730,000 troops from eleven countries: Azerbaijan, Cuba, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Mongolia, Poland, and Slovakia. Including military families, about 1.2 million people were involved in this shift. Besides the troops, all the paraphernalia of fifteen army directorates, forty-nine combined-arms divisions, seventy brigades, seventy-two aviation regiments, and twenty-four helicopter regiments also were moved from foreign posts.

The unprecedented speed with which Russia's direct military influence shrank had a strong effect on the national psyche. Beginning in 1993, Russia's foreign policy increasingly reflected the views of influential nationalist and communist elements of the government. Those elements sought political support by reviving the memories of Soviet world power, promising an end to the "subservient" role being played by Russia on the world political stage of the 1990s. Inevitably, Russia's real-world application of its military doctrine is an implicit and explicit element in expanding influence in the directions dictated by a revised foreign policy program. (The 1996 Institute for Defense Studies report indicates that viewpoint.) Given severe funding limitations, however, that expansion seemed to have limited possibilities in mid-1996.

Data as of July 1996

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