Russia today published a revised national security doctrine that reflects a growing sense of apprehension in the military and political establishment about Western intentions, especially after the NATO attack on Yugoslavia last year and amid continuing disagreements over Chechnya and arms control.
The 21-page Concept on National Security somewhat broadens the possible scenarios in which Russia would use nuclear weapons. A 1997 national security document had used a vague formulation that called for the use of nuclear weapons "in case of a threat to the existence of the Russian Federation as a sovereign state."
The new document says nuclear weapons can be used "in the case of the need to repulse an armed aggression, if all other methods of resolving the crisis situation are exhausted or have been ineffective."
Then-President Boris Yeltsin signed the earlier doctrine in December 1997, and changes to it were drafted last year, at a time when emotions were running high over the NATO attack on Yugoslavia and at the beginning of the conflict in Chechnya, which has drawn Western criticism. The new document thus reflects a more confrontational Russian view of the West.
The revisions were overseen by Vladimir Putin, now Russia's acting president, who was then head of the Kremlin Security Council. Putin signed the new document Jan. 10, and the full text was published today in Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozreniye, a weekly newspaper. Separately, Russia also has drafted a new military doctrine that may be adopted next month.
In the past, such documents have proved useful chiefly as guides to the thinking of the Russian military and political elite, but they are not binding and are often rewritten, ignored or superseded as circumstances change. Russian defense and foreign policy in recent years has been quite ad hoc rather than based on documents and plans, as the military brass demonstrated with the unexpected dash to Pristina, the capital of Kosovo, after the bombing campaign there.
The new document codifies much of the language used in Russia's vigorous objections to the NATO attack on Yugoslavia last year. For example, the 1997 doctrine noted the emergence of a "multi-polar" world after the Cold War. But the new one goes further, criticizing the United States for trying to create "unilateral" solutions to global problems with military force, "sidelining the basic founding standards of international law."
The previous document suggested there was no serious outside threat to Russia, but the new one says that "the level and scale of threat in the military sphere is increasing."
Specifically, the document adds, NATO's use of force outside the alliance's borders, without sanction from the United Nations--and the incorporation of this practice into the alliance doctrine last year--"is fraught with the threat of destabilization of the whole strategic situation in the world."
Alexander Pikayev, an analyst at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace here, said the new concept "reflects a debate which took place in 1999 as a result of Kosovo and Chechnya; to a certain extent, it fixes the results of those two debates."
One of the most important changes in the document, he added, "is that the West for the first time openly was described as a potential threat to Russian security," which was not part of the 1997 document or an earlier doctrine prepared in 1993.
Russia and the West have clashed more frequently in recent years, especially over Yugoslavia and the attacks on Iraq, and also over U.S. attempts to change the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty and deploy a national missile defense system. Arms control efforts have stalled, in part because Russia has not ratified the strategic arms agreement signed in 1993. The United States also has been critical of the Russian military campaign against Chechen rebels, and international organizations have put lending to Russia on hold.
With its conventional forces weakened, Russia for most of this decade has emphasized its nuclear deterrent. It also discarded a no-first-use pledge made by Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev. The language in the latest document alters the previous document's conditions under which Russia might use nuclear weapons, analysts said.
"The scenarios of the possible use of nuclear weapons are considerably broadened," Pikayev said. "It was vague in 1997, and even more vague in 1993." But he added, "It is probably not the worst possible language."
During the Kosovo crisis, some Russian officials were arguing for language allowing for "early first use" of nuclear weapons in a crisis. "Fortunately, this was not included," Pikayev said. "It's not the worst case."
Col. Gen. Valery Manilov, deputy chief of the general staff, told the Interfax news service the new language is an effort to describe "more clearly and specifically the conditions for Russia's usage of nuclear arms." But he said the "principles" are unchanged.
Russia "honestly, openly and firmly" declares that it reserves the right "to use nuclear arms solely in the event of aggression against itself or its allies, when no other means are deemed possible to prevent the liquidation of Russia as a party to international relations," Manilov said.
The document also calls for boosting military spending, saying it has been neglected and Russia's military readiness has reached "a critically low level."
While the old doctrine included the prospect of Russia working in "partnership" with the West, the new one instead talks about cooperation. In another semantic change, "military" has been substituted for "defense" throughout the document in what the newspaper said was an attempt to make it less passive. The document also places fresh emphasis on fighting terrorism, separatism and organized crime.
CAPTION: Vladimir Putin oversaw the revision of the security document when he was at the Kremlin Security Council.