Russia Reaffirms West
As Prime Enemy
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 says.
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.
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 electorate.
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 army.
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."