Putin Signs Russia’s National Security Strategy For 2016


Translated by Ollie Richardson for Fort Russ

1st January, 2016


On December 31st, the President of the Russian Federation issued a decree approving the “national security strategy. On January 1st, a correspondent of “KP” has read and compared what has changed in Russia’s policy.

Until December 31, 2015, there was “the national security Strategy until 2020” that was approved by a presidential decree in May 2009. This was a fairly short document — no more than ten printed pages, which became hopelessly out of date many years ago, perhaps seven years ago. Differences between the old and new “Strategies” are great. Here, in my opinion, are the most important differences that have been identified:

The Chapter “the Position of Russia in the modern world”

  • It was:

“The development of the world is on the path of globalization in all spheres of international life, which are dynamic and interrelated events”.

The implication was that Russia had successfully integrated into the global world on an equal footing. It noted some shortcomings in the “regional architecture of the Euro-Atlantic region” and not a very positive role of the North Atlantic Alliance in solving these problems.

  • Now:

First, as described in the new “Strategy” – “Russia’s national interests”, in general, occurs in the “Strategy” almost every third sentence:

“State policy in the sphere of national security and socio-economic development of the Russian Federation contributes to the realization of strategic national priorities and effective protection of national interests”.

Furthermore, the “Strategy” text reports on the protection of their national and economic interests abroad, as well as the participation of Russia in solving international problems and the settlement of military conflicts. It is, in plain text, reported that Russia has interests outside its borders and will continue to defend them.

  • It was:

“The transition from bloc confrontation to the principles of multivector diplomacy, as well as resource potential and pragmatic policy for its use, has expanded the capabilities of the Russian Federation to strengthen its influence on the world stage”.

Now our country is under unprecedented economic sanctions, the causes of which are obscure and far-fetched. Of course, this passage from an old “Strategy” is morally outdated, like the foreign policy concept of “Energomera”. 

Perhaps inside the Russian political elite they didn’t take this one seriously, and did not consider the opportunity to dominate international politics through trade resources. But the West took it seriously, which gave us almost a dozen years of peace on the reform and modernization of the army. In any case, the cards are open and this passage from the old “Strategy” is no longer relevant.

  • Now:

“The strengthening of Russia comes amid new threats to national security, with a complex, interrelated nature. The Russian Federation is conducting an independent foreign and domestic policy that has provoked opposition from the United States and its allies, seeking to maintain its dominance in world affairs”.

Here, in plain text, it is reported that Russia has its interests outside its borders and will continue to defend them.

In the old “Strategy” all the challenges and risks were identified correctly — the point of aggravation and conflict have not changed for decades. There is the Middle East, for example. It was assumed there would be military conflicts on Russia’s borders and within its areas of influence.  The active military participation of Russia in solving these problems was not considered . Now it is quite the contrary:

  • It was:

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“In the long term the Russian Federation will seek to build international relations on the principles of international law, ensuring reliable and equal security of States. To protect its national interests, Russia, while remaining within the framework of international law, will conduct a rational and pragmatic foreign policy that excludes costly confrontation, including a new arms race”.

The old “Strategy” of the UN was still seen as the guarantor of stability and observance of laws of international law. It was just the reality that the UN’s role in the turmoil in Ukraine and the fight against ISIL was negligible, to say the least…

  • Now:

“In the field of international security, Russia remains committed to the use of primarily political and legal tools and mechanisms of diplomacy and peacemaking. The use of military force to protect national interests is POSSIBLE (approx.ed.) if all the measures taken non-violent nature proved to be ineffective.”

On the list of threats in the new “Strategy”, a mention of “color” revolutions  appeared.

The top of “National interests and priorities”

It makes no sense to quote them, they are absolutely identical in both strategies. The essence of interests and priorities can be described in several words: “in all Russia was right.” But here in the security of these interests, we see the radical changes:

  • It was:

“The main content of national security is the maintenance of legal and institutional mechanisms, and resource capabilities of the state and society at the level that meets the national interests of the Russian Federation.”

  • Now:

“Ensuring national interests of the country is carried out by implementing the following strategic national priorities:

1. national defense….”

National defense in the new “Strategy” comes first, and it clearly hints that the war actually is already underway, but not all fully understand it. But, the phrase “where necessary” is perfectly understood to all, and this gives us some confidence. The military doctrine of the Russian Federation, a completely different document that goes beyond “Strategy”, both old and new. We can only note that all the regional conflicts in the “Strategy 2016” that are discussed in conjunction with global processes are defined as not accidental. Also, it is quite directly alluding to the reality of the use of nuclear weapons for Russia’s defense. The old “Strategy” refers only to “the preservation of the capacity of nuclear deterrence”.

In the list of threats of a new “Strategy”, a mention of “color” revolutions appeared, and also, particular attention is paid to the control of the means of communication — you can guess that we are talking primarily about the Internet. It is curious that the main task of the state in both “Strategies” are identical, the “Growth of the welfare of citizens”. There are very similar sections related to economy, science and health. Things and ideas that are taught therein are so obvious that it makes no sense to re-tell them. Here are only a few words – “self-reliance”, “withdrawal from dependence on natural resources, import substitution in agriculture and pharmaceuticals”. Only, it’s all spelled out in more detail and expanded. Some discrepancies appear in the section “Culture”, they are curious.

  • It was:

“Strategic objectives ensuring national security in the cultural sphere are:

expanding access of wide layers of the population to the best examples of Russian and foreign culture and art …”

  • Now:

“The preservation and enhancement of traditional Russian values as the Foundation of Russian society…”

The authors consider the threat of erosion of these traditional values is present, which is impossible to argue with. Moreover, the erosion is due caused “by external cultural and spiritual expansion”. Another threat is “the decline of the role of the Russian language in the world.”

The head of “Strategic stability”

In the old “Strategy” this chapter does not contain any specifics — only a worn out common phrase. In the new version, everything is fleshed out. Russia is not going to change its political vector, and continues to move east with many political, economic and military alliances, which it diligently lists as: CIS, CSTO, BRICS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the forum “Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, G20”.

It expresses support to Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Two paragraphs are devoted to China and India, interaction with these countries or “special cooperation” is the most important factor of our economic and political security. It refers to the countries of South America. But in relation to the US, Russia is only “interested”. “The West” in the “Strategy” is not mentioned any more so than other countries. Regarding NATO and cooperation with it, it says that “the depth and substance of that relationship will be determined by the willingness of the Alliance to take into account the legitimate interests of the Russian Federation in the implementation of military-political planning, and to respect the norms of international law”.

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