- MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia
has published a new draft military doctrine that retains the right to use
nuclear weapons first, but defense experts said on Monday the main surprise
was its strikingly anti-Western tone.
- President Boris Yeltsin approved the last doctrine in
1993, after the military reluctantly put down a parliamentary revolt. It
was never published in full, but excerpts on nuclear policy and intervention
abroad caused a stir in the West at the time.
- The Defense Ministry newspaper Krasnaya Zvezda published
the new draft in full at the weekend, and it is already grabbing the attention
of Russian and Western military analysts. It also means new NATO Secretary-General
George Robertson will have his work cut out. He wants to convince Moscow
NATO is not a threat.
- Recent events, including in the Balkans and the North
Caucasus, meant that we had to complete the work on the draft started more
than two years ago under presidential orders," Colonel-General Valery
Manilov, the General Staff man in charge of drafting the doctrine, explained
to the newspaper.
- At the core of the new doctrine is the concept of two
opposing trends - unipolar, meaning U.S. superpower domination, and multipolar,
implying many centers of influence including Russia.
- "The Russian Federation considers that social progress,
stability and international security can only be guaranteed in the framework
of a multipolar world and works in all ways to achieve it," the draft
- The United States and its NATO allies are not explicitly
mentioned but the meaning is clear. The doctrine lists among the country's
main external threats attempts to marginalize Moscow in world affairs and
the stationing of troops near Russia.
- "Unfortunately it is a return to the Soviet pattern,
the Soviet scheme whereby the West was regarded as an alien entity which
always jeopardized Russian national interests," said Yevgeny Volk
of the Heritage Foundation think-tank in Moscow.
- Colonel-General Manilov noted the draft even saw foreign
hands in funding and training rebel groups, such as those in Chechnya,
where Russia is battling Islamic militants. He did not say who Moscow thought
was behind these groups.
- NATO ENLARGEMENT SEEN AS SPARK FOR CHANGE
- A Western defense expert said he traced the change in
overall mood back to Russia's post-Cold War anger at NATO's enlargement
to include East European states as members. NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia
and Western doubts about the country's economic reforms had served to deepen
a disillusioned mood.
- "What really amazes me is that the views expressed
by the General Staff are shared by quite a lot of civilians in the political
establishment," the Western defense expert said. "I'm afraid
this is a change we will feel very heavily in future."
- He said the shift was more profound than a simple pre-election
change of mood. Russians elect a new parliament in December and a new president
in mid-2000. The 1.2 million-strong military remains a key slice of the
- Manilov said Yeltsin would get a final version of the
military doctrine for approval next month. The draft says Russia reserves
the right to use nuclear weapons first in specific circumstances, for example
if faced with an invasion.
- Volk said this strategy, reintroduced in the 1993 doctrine
after a Soviet no-first-strike pledge, pointed above all to the weakness
of Russian conventional forces. The draft doctrine says Russia will still
need conscription but will aim to shift the balance more towards a professional
- Volk also said the military and political establishment,
as well as the defense industry, needed external threats to justify increasing
defense spending during an economic crisis.
- The Western expert noted a broader security concept adopted
last week by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's government similarly homed
in on threats from beyond Russia's borders.
- "It is no longer taboo to be anti-Western,"
said one Russian military analyst who knows the workings of the General
Staff well. "In 1993 it was impossible to write our enemy is the West.
Now it is there, albeit between the lines. But it is there."