Russia's Military Doctrine

Arms Control Today, May 2000 | Go to article overview

Russia's Military Doctrine

On April 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a new military doctrine intended to replace the doctrine issued in 1993 and to elaborate on the military policies outlined in the new Russian national security concept, released in January (See p. 42, and ACT, January/February 2000.) The doctrine, which Russia says is "defensive in nature," states that it is designed for the current "transitional period" in both Russian politics and international relations.

The new military doctrine addresses a broad range of topics, including the nature and causes of modern wars, the internal and external military threats facing Russia, the organization and funding of the Russian military, and the principles governing Russia's use of force. It also addresses a variety of specific, militarily relevant issues in the technical, political, social, and economic spheres, including the implementation of arms control treaties, the threat posed by "illegal armed formations" within Russia, and the effective imposition of international sanctions.

In keeping with the security concept it is intended to complement, the new doctrine appears to lower the threshold for Russia's use of nuclear weapons below what was stated in the national security concept that was issued in 1997. Whereas the 1997 concept allowed the first use of nuclear arms only "in case of a threat to the existence of the Russian Federation," the new doctrine allows nuclear weapons use "in response to largescale aggression utilizing conventional weapons in situations critical to the national security of the Russian Federation." It also explicitly states for the first time that Russia "reserves the right" to use nuclear weapons to respond to all "weapons of mass destruction" attacks. Furthermore, the doctrine reaffirms Russia's negative security assurances to non-nuclear-weapon states and reiterates Russia's extension of its nuclear umbrella to its allies. (See section I [8].)

The following is the full text of the doctrine, originally published in Russian in the April 22 issue of Nezavisimaya Gazeta and translated by the U.S. Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS). Readers should note that the words and phrases enclosed in parentheses are part of the original text, while those in brackets are clarifications inserted by FBIS.

The Russian Federation Military Doctrine (hereinafter, the Military Doctrine) constitutes the sum total of the official views (precepts) determining the military-political, military-strategic, and military-economic foundations for safeguarding the Russian Federation s military security.

The Military Doctrine is a document for a transitional period-the period of the formation of democratic statehood and a mixed economy, the transformation of the state's military organization, and the dynamic transformation of the system of international relations.

The Military Doctrine develops the Basic Guidelines for the Russian Federation's Military Doctrine of 1993 and fleshes out in respect of the military sphere the precepts of the Russian Federation National Security Concept. The provisions of the Military Doctrine are based on a comprehensive evaluation of the state of the military-political situation and a strategic forecast of its development, on a scientifically justified definition of the current and longer-term missions, objective requirements, and real potential for safeguarding the Russian Federation's military security, and also on a systematic analysis of the content and nature of modern wars and armed conflicts, and Russian and foreign experience of military organizational development and the art of war.

The Military Doctrine is defensive in nature, which is predetermined by the organic combination within its provisions of a consistent adherence to peace with a firm resolve to defend national interests and guarantee the military security of the Russian Federation and its allies.

The legal basis for the Military Doctrine is provided by the Russian Federation Constitution, Russian Federation federal laws and other normative legal acts, and the Russian Federation's international treaties in the sphere of the safeguarding of military security. …

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