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Russia's Military Policy

Author/s: V.I. Lutovinov
Issue: Sept-Oct, 2001

Military policy, or a policy pursued in the military area, is a necessary and important element of the general political activities aimed at providing for a state's national security, preventing wars and military conflicts, and strengthening strategic stability. In Russia, like in any other state, it has two interconnected aspects, domestic and foreign. The foreign aspect is about using military force in interstate relations, while the domestic one determines long-term prospects and day-to-day work the state does to maintain the defense capability and employment readiness of the Armed Forces.

A specific but not isolated part of politics at large, the military policy integrates most different types of political, economic, and scientific activities of socio-political forces and of the state institutions the latter create specifically for the purpose, directing them towards the shaping and use of violent means of war as well as of addressing the tasks connected with provision of military security of the individual, society and the state.

Thus, military policy is a component part of the overall state policy, which is directly linked with the creation of the military organization, preparation and use of military means for the attainment of definite political goals. Its goal is creating favorable conditions for stability in the state and society, and providing for their security and defense.

Constituting the legal basis of the state military policy are the Constitution of the Russian Federation, National Security Concept, Military Doctrine, federal laws "On Security," "On Defense," and other legislation conforming to the UN Charter, 1975 and 1992 Helsinki agreements, the Paris (1990) and the Istanbul (1999) charters, as well as the Russian Federation's international treaties, agreements and understandings in the military security area.

In keeping with the new scientific approach, the Russian Federation's military policy is due to perform in the state two main functions: scientific-analytical (forecasting) and organizational-practical (managerial). Their ratio is determined by the overall state policy, objective conditions of the state's functioning and development, as well as subjective factors connected with the military and political leadership, attitudes to science, military affairs, etc.

During the last few decades of the 20th century, which were marked by the end of the Cold War and major socio-economic and military-political changes, the military policy of Russia ceased to be confrontation-seeking. It is peaceful and distinguished by an even-handed and constructive approach to the most difficult problems, and by a wish for cooperation, military-political one in particular, with most different countries. Its most important vector consists in securing favorable, mutually beneficial economic, political, cultural, scientific and other ties and relations with all countries, primarily neighboring, and in establishing a type of the world order, where settlement of outstanding differences is not by fiat of one single state or a certain military-political alliance of states, but as a result of mutually acceptable collective understandings, predominantly under the UN aegis.

The content of military policy is determined by the economic, political, national and other interests of the Russian State as well as those of the nations, social groups, and regions composing it; by potential and real capabilities of Russia as a subject of military policy, which make it possible to implement those interests; by internal and external aspects of activity of the country and its leading institutions; and by the degree of threat to its security.

Within the pattern of military policy one may single out a number of relatively independent components: a totality of ideas and principles; military-political decisions and plans; practical activities to implement points of doctrine.

The totality of ideas and principles, which form the theoretical foundations of the Military Doctrine, has been elaborated by way of a deep-going analysis of military-political practice. The doctrinal ideas and principles determine the general trend of the state's military-political activity and a systems approach to its practice in the short and long term.

Military-political decisions and plans is one of the most complex and crucial elements of military policy. As is common knowledge, the military-political situation in Russia and the world is subject to continual changes, which come unexpectedly, affecting the most profound vital interests of states, peoples and communities. They call for a timely, occasionally emergency reaction, responsible and sometimes critical decision-making, as well as consistent and unswerving pursuance of decisions in military-political practice. The decisions must reflect features of a concrete situation and unconditionally conform to the doctrinal tenets and principles.

Practical activity aimed at implementing the doctrinal tenets is along these main lines: control of the military organizational development, which requires elaboration and implementation of a science-based military-economic and technical policy, as well as the main aspects of social, demographic, and cultural activity; regulation of military-political relations with states or coalitions of states, using a range of methods and assets of military diplomacy; management of military-political actions of different nature and scale in the territory of Russia and in the international arena, designed to secure coordination with allied forces, centralization, or indirect employment of forces not involved in a conflict (incident); resolute opposition to an adversary and rout of his military forces.

The mechanism for subject-object structural interaction is as follows. The state (as the subject) spells out political aims and prepares relevant violent means (military and non-military) to attain them, with the aims and means due to conform to the concrete conditions of a given military-political situation. Otherwise one will have either to raise the qualitative level of attracted violent means, which in modern conditions is undesirable, or to make corresponding adjustments to aims and goals of military policy. Any considerable imbalance between the set goals and ways of their attainment may lead not only to a collapse of military policy but also to an entire political crisis.

A most important vector in Russia's military policy is providing for its military security. The new military-political approaches and concepts are increasingly often dominated by views to the effect that war and military force is not the most effective political tool and that security cannot be ensured by military means alone. Therefore, one should seek to place the main emphasis in the settlement of conflicts and disputed problems on political means and diplomatic efforts.

Like before, the leadership of Russia links military security with efforts to create a democratic, rule-of-law state, put through socio-economic reforms, assert principles of equitable partnership, mutually beneficial cooperation and good-neighborliness in international relations, shape a common and comprehensive international security system, and preserve and strengthen universal peace. Russia regards as its partners the states whose policies do not impair its national interests and security, and are not at variance with the UN Charter and the rules of international law. This country strictly observes the effective arms limitation, reduction, and elimination treaties; assists their implementation and maintenance of regimes they define; aids extension of military confidence-building measures, including reciprocal exchanges of military information, coordination of doctrines, plans and measures of military organizational development. The Russian Federation gives priority to promotion of military (military-polit ical) and military-technical cooperation with member states of the CIS Collective Security Treaty, consolidating efforts for the creation of a unified defense space and collective military security on the basis of the principles of equality, mutual benefit, and good-neighborliness.

Within the context of these approaches, the Russian Federation's main aim in the military sphere for today and in the short term is as before securing favorable conditions for stabilization and reliable protection of the state, society and the individual. Accordingly, the aims of the Russian Federation's military policy at the modern stage are preventing military clashes and promptly neutralizing military provocations in the world arena; assisting termination and interdiction of armed conflicts between former USSR republics; defending its own independence and assuring security, sovereignty, inviolability of borders, and territorial integrity; performing international obligations to render military aid to allied states and participate in peacekeeping operations; maintaining this country's defense potential at a level commensurate with the existing and potential military threats with account taken of its socio-economic and financial capabilities.

It is to the decisive degree up to the military-political leadership of Russia to pursue science-based and even-handed military policy, perform the necessary measures in the area of military cooperation with other countries, streamline the military organization, and create the state's military might corresponding to modern realities.

The main content of efforts to ensure military security, one connected with performance of military-political activity mostly in the sphere of the Russian Federation's peacetime foreign policy, is this: shaping and implementing unified state policy in the security area; maintaining domestic political stability and protecting the constitutional system; promoting and strengthening friendly (allied) relations with neighbors and other states; creating and improving a defense system of Russia and its allies; providing an all-out support for the organizational development of the Russian Federation Armed Forces, other troops, military units and agencies, and maintaining them in a state of readiness for coordinated action to prevent, localize and neutralize external and domestic threats; protecting facilities and structures in the World Ocean, outer space, and in the territory of foreign states, shipping, fishing and other types of activity in the adjacent maritime zone and in remote regions of the World Ocean; guard ing and defending the state border of the Russian Federation within the confines of the border territory, the airspace and the underwater medium, as well as the exclusive economic zone and the continental shelf and their natural resources; supporting, if necessary, the Russian Federation's political actions through the holding of relevant measures of military nature; monitoring reciprocal performance of commitments in the arms limitation, reduction and elimination area and in the sphere of confidence-building measures; assuring readiness for participation (or participation) in peacekeeping activities.

At the same time, the potency of political and diplomatic methods and means of ensuring military security must not be exaggerated. Interstate relations are built upon the overcoming of deep-going contradictions and serious differences as well as protracted tackling of complicated problems. Not infrequently a country has to accept some or other restrictions, make concessions, and on top of that to have truck with manifestations of military-political inertia, destructive impulses, national egoism and adventurism.

Controversial trends and factors in military-political situation, a possibility of its destabilization due to the presence of sources of military danger on the one hand face the world community and international organizations, primarily the UN and OSCE, with the need to consolidate efforts for the prevention of military conflicts and crisis settlement, while confirming the well known rule that the peaceful expedients of military security are effective only if based on sufficient military might, on the other. Thus, as long as the non-use of force has not become a norm of international relations, the national interests of the Russian Federation require that it have military might sufficient for its defense.

One of this country's most important tasks in the international security sphere is strategic deterrence with the aim of preventing both conventional and nuclear war, as well as performance of allied commitments. For this, as the present writers see it, it must possess a nuclear potential as the main deterring factor, one capable of assuring infliction of desired damage on any aggressor (a state or a coalition of states) in any conditions, and a factor of international stability and peace. Of particular importance is the doctrinal tenet that the Russian Federation reserves the right to use in critical situations nuclear weapons in response to a large-scale action with the use of conventional weapons.

Conscious of the concern other states feel regarding nuclear weapon employment, Russia meticulously implements international treaties on strategic offensive weapons and antimissile defense and is ready for further reduction of its nuclear weapons on the bilateral basis with the U.S.A. and on multilateral basis with other nuclear states down to the minimum levels corresponding to the strategic stability requirements; is for conveying an universal character to the regime of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and their delivery vehicles, for a resolute enhancement of the regime's effectiveness via a combination of prohibitive, verification and technological measures, and for termination and universal prohibition of nuclear tests.

A priority of the military policy of the Russian Federation is building up an effective military organization designed to provide for guaranteed protection of national interests and military security of the Russian Federation and its allies. The main way of achieving this aim is to give the military organization the optimal characteristics as to its strength, fighting strength, TOE structure, command and control systems, and all types of support. One of the indispensable conditions is optimizing consumption of materiel and monetary funds and increasing effectiveness of their use on the basis of an interconnected and coordinated reform effort directed at all components of the state's military organization.

There are doctrinal tenets on unified principles, priorities and vectors of strategic planning, organization, planning, and employment of the Armed Forces in accordance with real military security requirements and national economic capabilities, designed to tackle this vital task. All of this calls for the pursuance of a consolidated state policy, unification of efforts of all arms and agencies of power, as well as concentration and rational use of allocated forces, assets and resources. In effect, this confirms and asserts at the doctrinal level the strategic line, which was first outlined in the Main Principles of the Military Doctrine, later formulated in the Main Directions of Military Organizational Development, specified in the Concept of Organizational Development of the RF Armed Forces, and set out in detail in the Fundamentals (Concept) of the State Policy of the Russian Federation on Military Organizational Development. Creating a political platform for the implementation of this line is the new wor ding of the National Security Concept, whose demand of principle is a radical reduction in the number of ministries and agencies authorizing military service. Of key importance is creation of a single, centralized system of state and military control, and of integrated systems of technical and rear support, military education, and military science.

A crucial condition of providing for military security of the Russian Federation must become target-oriented allocation of budget funds for development programs in territories boasting a high concentration of scientific and technical potential, creation with state support of an infrastructure helping to commercialize R & D results while simultaneously protecting intellectual property inside the country and elsewhere, and development of a general access scientific and commercial information network.

Playing a particular role in this respect is the human factor and the serviceman social status. The problem will not be solved by a stroke of the pen or even by a next decree signed by the Russian Federation President. It is important to thoroughly elaborate the legal status of troops, military units and command and control elements. The main thing at the present stage is to give a new impetus to the military reform. For this, an ideological support--currently lacking--is needed. There is a need for a broad-scale explanation work to convince the population and the Armed Forces personnel of the expediency of changes. One of the aims of the reforms is restoring the prestige of the military service, without which it is impossible to preserve the combat potential of the Armed Forces and strengthen the national defenses. It is undoubtedly very important that the matters of reform be tackled by highly skilled professionals, for otherwise there will be inevitable failures.

A sine qua non of military security of the Russian Federation must become the creation of a model of global, regional and sub-regional security, based on principles of equality for all and resting on both historical traditions and the positive experience of democratic development.

Implementing the military policy of the Russian Federation is in the context of the general policy of this country, aimed at the construction of a multi-pole world and a secure Europe without divides and at ensuring partnership and good-neighborliness with all countries and peoples.


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