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Enemy number one Russia's new national security strategy faces off against the US and threats to ‘spiritual values’

Source: Meduza
Photo: Alexey Druzhinin / TASS / Scanpix

On December 31, 2015, Vladimir Putin approved Russia's new national security strategy—a document that reflects the country's fundamental plans for foreign and domestic state policy. Much has changed since the last draft of Russia's security strategy, which was signed by then President Dmitry Medvedev in 2009. Meduza summarizes the new edition's main points.

The world is unstable, but Russia is strong

The preamble of Russia's national security strategy describes the country's position in the modern world. From the point of view of the authorities, the situation looks something like this: Russia is getting stronger, its spiritual values are reviving, and it's pursuing its own policies at home and abroad, which the United States and its allies dislike. The world is moving further from a unipolar model (when the US managed everyone), and becoming less stable, which is leading to new global and regional threats.

The United States of America is Russia's main enemy

The security strategy says that the US and its allies want to preserve their dominance in world affairs and pursue a policy of containment with Russia, pressuring Moscow politically, economically, militarily, and in the information sphere. Together with the European Union, the US supported the “anti-constitutional coup” in Ukraine, which resulted in a “long-term source of instability” on Russia's borders. Economic sanctions imposed by American authorities are a threat to Russian national security, and have interfered with the country's economic and scientific development. Washington's habit of overthrowing legitimate political regimes throughout the world creates more and more hot spots, fueling terrorism. 

The new security strategy argues that ISIL emerged and has been successful because of the policy of double-standards supported by certain states in the fight against terrorism. By “some states,” the document's authors clearly have in mind, not least of all, the United States. The document also mentions the risk of the proliferation of biological weapons, noting that the US is expanding its network of military biological labs in countries neighboring Russia. 

Despite all these problems, Russia's authorities are prepared to cooperate with the United States in certain areas: in particular, arms control and the fight against terrorism.

Russia needs to be ready to mobilize

Russia's new security strategy doesn't say anything particularly new about national defense. The main provisions of the updated version can be found in the 2009 text, as well. As before, the document asserts that Russia will use military force to protect its national security only as a last resort, when all other methods have been exhausted, and it won't participate in a costly arms race. The strategy pays significant attention to increasing the country's mobilization readiness, emphasizing the need to develop advance plans for a mobilization of Russia's fighting capacity.

The country's chief national interests are security and maintaining order

Russia's new security strategy makes some symbolic changes to the 2009 version's description of the country's main national interests. While the previous document listed the development of democracy, civil society, and the economy, the new edition addresses the strengthening of Russia's defenses, and ensuring the inviolability of the country's “constitutional order,” independence, and territorial integrity. Other prominent interests now include strengthening the “national consensus” and political and social stability. The new strategy stresses the dangers foreign and international non-governmental organizations pose to Russia's constitutional order.

Both Russia's military doctrine and the list of the country's main interests highlights the threat of certain private individuals, who seek to “incite color revolutions” and “destroy the country's spiritual and moral values.”

Russia needs to boost its spiritual values

Words and phrases related to spirituality (“spiritual,” “spirituality,” “spiritual-moral values”) appear in the new strategy 16 times—eight times more often than in the 2009 version. Officials say Russia must grow its spiritual potential, in addition to its military, political, and economic power. The revival of the country's spiritual-moral values is one of Russia's long-term national interests, the document says, and threats to these values are a threat to Russia's national security. 

According to the strategy, these values concern the priority of “the spiritual” over “the material,” the protection of human life, the rights and freedoms of the individual, the family, creative work, service to the Motherland, morality and ethics, humanism, mercy, justice, aid-giving, community, the historical unity of the peoples of Russia, and the continuity of the nation's history.

Defending the country in the information sphere is paramount

Virtually every section of Russia's new national security strategy mentions, in one way or another, the significance of the information space. The previous version also addressed rising “global information hostilities,” but not in such detail. The new strategy says the authorities are taking measures to protect the nation from destructive informational influence by terrorists, extremists, foreign intelligence agencies, and certain advocacy organizations, targeting “the propaganda of fascism, extremism, terrorism, and separatism,” and “threats to civic peace and society's political and social stability.” 

According to the new security strategy, the authorities must control the country's information sphere in order to defend Russian “cultural sovereignty” from “the expansion of external ideological values” and “destructive informational-psychological influence.”