Marshall Center Papers 2 Graphic

How the Yugoslav war destroyed remaining hopes for genuine security partnership and military cooperation between Russia and NATO

The Transformation of Russian Military Doctrine: Lessons Learned from Kosovo and Chechnya

July 2000, Number 002


The George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies takes great pride in presenting this second edition of the Marshall Center Papers. Dr. Alexei G. Arbatov’s paper, “The Transformation of Russian Military Doctrine: Lessons Learned from Kosovo and Chechnya,” continues our tradition of publishing monographs that are current and challenging, even when they may prove controversial. This series has been specifically created to disseminate scholarly monographs that explore and influence the resolution of Atlantic–European–Eurasian security issues. Dr. Arbatov’s paper provides an authoritative analysis of national security thinking in Moscow, as well as some pointed suggestions on how to improve relations between Russia and the West. To assist readers who may want more details from official documents, as opposed to the opinions of an individual scholar and parliamentarian, we have also included extracts from the current Russian Military Doctrine and National Security Concept.

The conflicts in Kosovo and Chechnya deserve careful study as models for the conduct of future wars and, more urgently, for insights on how to prevent them. It is hardly surprising that scholars from different countries find dissimilar lessons. Writing from the Russian perspective, Dr. Arbatov criticizes NATO for conducting its air campaign without prior authorization by the United Nations or the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). He strongly defends traditional views of state sovereignty and international law–as opposed to recent Western emphasis on the need to protect human rights. This is a new and important debate, which will affect a wide range of security agreements and institutions.

Dr. Arbatov also criticizes some aspects of Russia’s war against the Chechens. Indeed, he asserts that the use of force in Chechnya was based on “a flimsy legal foundation, just like NATO’s action against Yugoslavia.” He worries that this conflict is far from over, and he warns that the growing involvement of the Russian armed forces in domestic conflicts might threaten a young and growing Russian democracy, unless it is properly regulated by the rule of law.

Western readers may or may not agree with Dr. Arbatov, when he claims that NATO’s actions in Kosovo greatly affected the conduct of Russia’s war in Chechnya. However, his overall assessment of the Russian security situation is both logical and important. He addresses many of the same questions that concern Western defense planners. What are the different threats to Russian national interests? How have Kosovo and Chechnya altered possible scenarios of future conflicts? How important are the strategic nuclear forces and arms control agreements? And, what is the right balance among forces designed for sharply different kinds and levels of conflict?

When colleagues from different countries disagree about pressing issues of international security, they should study each other’s views dispassionately and continue their dialogue. For this reason, I believe that Dr. Arbatov’s monograph deserves both a wide readership and a spirited response.

Dr. Robert Kennedy
George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies

Executive Summary

The use of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) aircraft and missiles against Serbia on March 24, 1999 ended the post–Cold War phase of international affairs. The Serbs conducted ethnic cleansing against the Albanians on an unprecedented scale, but these attacks escalated after the initiation of the NATO air campaign.

The attack on Serbia suddenly removed a Russian taboo against the use of military force that followed the first war in Chechnya of 1994–1996. NATO’s military action was a final humiliation and a “spit in the face” for Russia, which more than ever before demonstrated the Western arrogance of power and its willingness to ignore Russian interests.

Russia has learned many lessons from Kosovo.  Above all, the end justifies the means. The use of force is the most efficient problem solver, if applied decisively and massively. Negotiations are of dubious value and should be used as a cover for military action. International law and human suffering are of secondary significance in achieving the goal. Massive devastation and collateral fatalities among the civilian population are acceptable in order to limit one’s own casualties. Foreign public opinion and the position of Western governments are to be discounted if Russian interests are at stake. The key to success is a concentrated campaign in the mass media and tight control over information about the war.

After an unprecedented decade of disarmament, de–targeting of nuclear missiles, cooperation, and transparency in defense and security matters between Russia and the United States, Kosovo has revived the worst instincts and stereotypes of the Cold War. It is likely that US–Russian relations will never be the same as before March 24, 1999. The Clinton administration and its European allies bear full responsibility for this change.

The growing rift between Russia and the West is reflected in new editions of the highest official documents: Russia’s National Security Concept and Military Doctrine. They emphasize nuclear deterrence and nuclear first use as the principal pillars of Russian security; robust conventional defense against a “Balkan–type” attack by NATO; and regular employment of the armed forces to deal with local, including domestic conflicts. Russian military spending will probably rise from the present 2.8 per cent of Gross National Product to about 3.5 per cent. That level of expenditure would permit several different options for future force structure, which are explored in the text.

To prevent further tensions and military confrontation between Russia and the West, US–Russian and NATO–Russian security cooperation must be patiently and consistently rebuilt step–by–step. Pragmatically and without excessive expectations, the zone of cooperation must be expanded and given solid public support. The ratification of Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty–II (START–II) by the Russian State Duma (Parliament) on April 14, 2000 gave a good start to such a policy. Now it depends largely on the United States whether a new START–III/Anti–Ballistic Missile (ABM) package can be negotiated. Other steps should be a tacit understanding that there will be no further NATO expansion during the next several years. The NATO–Russia Permanent Joint Council (PJC) could become the forum for planning joint peacekeeping operations, on which Moscow by definition should participate as an equal with NATO member states. At least tacitly, it must be recognized that NATO will not implement any new out–of–area military action, except by authorization of the United Nations (UN) Security Council. Deep reductions and restructuring of conventional forces for joint peacekeeping operations could be a goal for the Conventional Armed Forces of Europe–2 (CFE–2) treaty process.

Even if all these goals are achieved, the great dreams of post–Cold War integration, partnership, and even strategic alliance of the early 1990s will hardly be revived. However, further disintegration of the international security and arms control regimes can be stopped, and a reasonable measure of cooperation between Russia and the West can be enhanced— until the time when major new reforms in Russia’s domestic life, as well the West’s foreign policy and strategy, may open the door to much closer economic, political, and military integration.1


The first wave of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) aircraft and missiles that hit Serbian targets on March 24, 1999 marked the end of the post–Cold War phase of international affairs—a period of world history that Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev had initiated some 10 years earlier. The United States–led action in Kosovo also deeply undermined the emerging framework of international security.

This new security system was allegedly based on an enhanced role for the United Nations (UN) and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). It assumed strict conformity with the UN Charter; compliance with international law; respect for existing agreements between Russia and the West (especially the NATO–Russia Founding Act of 1997),2 and a partnership between Russia and NATO, to include joint conflict–management and peacekeeping operations, as well as comprehensive arms control and disarmament regimes.

Kosovo reversed these trends. The war resulted in Russia’s experiencing an unprecedented surge of anti–American and anti–Western sentiments, and these sentiments had many ramifications. The Russian public became markedly disenchanted with the West. Moscow initiated a desperate search for other foreign partners and renewed its efforts to build up a defense capability against the United States (U.S.) and its allies. The war in Yugoslavia did away with the remaining hopes for a genuine security partnership and military cooperation between Russia and NATO. Once again, Russia perceives NATO as its primary defense concern for the foreseeable future.

As a result, a number of crucial treaties, that had been signed, planned, and/or finalized, were “frozen” without ratification: Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty–III (START–III); Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT); the Open Skies Treaty; and the adaptation of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE). (START–II, however, was ratified by Russia on April 14, 2000. The State Duma [Parliament] approved the CTBT on April 21, 2000.) Still worse, the implementation of previously ratified treaties and/or unilateral agreements was placed in doubt: START–I (which is undermined as well by renewed American plans for a strategic defense program); CFE; Intermediate–Range Nuclear Forces and Shorter–Range Missiles (INF–SRM); Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC); parallel reduction of tactical nuclear arms; and de–targeting of strategic missiles.3 armed forces firing a shot in any “hot spot,” in or outside of Russia.)

The Yugoslav war destroyed remaining hopes for genuine security partnership and military cooperation between Russia and NATO.

NATO’s decisive and efficient military action against Yugoslavia served as an example to Russia and provided Russia a powerful push toward a new military campaign in Chechnya. Western employment of large–scale forces in the Balkans lifted the taboo against the use of military force as an instrument for resolving ethnic problems and conflicts that had been in place since the end of the first Chechen war of 1994–1996. (From 1996–1999 there was not a single instance of Russian armed forces firing a shot in any “hot spot,” in or outside of Russia.) Following September 1999 clashes with the Wahhabis4 in Daghestan, Russia once again engaged military force in Chechnya.

Altogether, the NATO bombing of the Balkans resulted in strong public support for the Kremlin’s new war in Chechnya. It caused an overwhelming vote for hard–line politicians and nationalist parties in both the parliamentary elections of December 1999 and the presidential elections of March 2000. And, it very significantly triggered a major revision of both the Russian Federation National Security Concept (See Appendix B) and the Russian Federation Military Doctrine (See Appendix A).

The official new version of the National Security Concept was adopted by the Security Council in January 2000.5 In April 2000 the new Military Doctrine was approved by the Security Council.6 These revised documents provide a general security strategy framework for the new Russian President, Vladimir Putin, for many years ahead.

The Evolution of Russian Military Requirements

The new, revised, Russian official Military Doctrine was not written on a blank sheet of paper. Its basis, Principal Guidance on the Military Doctrine of the Russian Federation, was approved by the Security Council on November 2, 1993, and became law that same day as Presidential Decree No. 1833 (PGMD). The new doctrine retains some of the principal points of the PGMD, but it reprioritizes, elaborates on, and presents a sharper and more straightforward substance.

In the past, official documents were purely declaratory and had nothing to do with actual diplomatic, military, and budgetary circumstances. However, the new Security Concept and Military Doctrine are notably very much in line with the current practice of Russian foreign and defense policies and programs.

During the last phase of the Cold War (from the mid–1970s to the mid–1980s) Moscow’s geopolitical space directly bordered on territories controlled or protected by the United States and China. Hence, Soviet armed forces were built, deployed, and assigned to meet specific strategic military goals: 1) to limit damage in a global nuclear war with any combination of the other four nuclear powers; 2) to win in large–scale, multi–theater wars in Europe and the Far East; and 3) to be able to conduct sub–regional operations in support of Russia’s Third World clients (e.g., Afghanistan).

In the early 1980s, at the apogee of the Cold War, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) had the world’s second largest economy. Its military budget was equal to that of America, although its Gross National Product (GNP) was roughly half as large. Of the almost four million men in the Soviet armed forces, about 70 per cent were allocated to the European theater, 20 per cent to the Far East, and 10 per cent to the southern zone. These forces were deployed under the umbrella of 10,000 strategic and 30,000 tactical nuclear weapons. The Soviet Union produced approximately 3,000 tanks, 600 aircraft, 1,000 missiles of all classes, and 20 large combat ships and submarines annually.

All of this appears in stark contrast to the present and foreseeable future. Currently, the former Soviet Republics lie to the west and south of Russia. They are marked by a high degree of internal instability, are vulnerable to external influences, and are engaged in tense relations, or even open armed conflict, with secessionist groups, with each other, or with Russia. The actual borders between Russia and the former Soviet Republics are mostly symbolic and are exposed to illegal migration and massive smuggling activities.

Russian GNP has fallen to 2.5 per cent of that of the U.S.7 The Russian defense budget has shrunk to 2 per cent of the American budget and the armed forces have been reduced to 1.2 million. Nuclear forces consist of 5,000 strategic and approximately 2,000 tactical warheads (which due to serial obsolescence will be reduced to around 1,000–1,500 in the next 10 years). Russian defense output is on the average 10–20 times smaller than it was in the 1980s.

Beyond dealing with the new countries that occupy former Soviet territory, Russia now faces a number of states and alliances with superior armed forces. NATO has enlarged its military power and moved much closer to Russian borders by accepting new member states. During the next 10 years, in addition to holding a conventional superiority in Europe of approximately 2:1, or even 3:1, NATO will also possess a substantial nuclear superiority in both tactical and strategic nuclear forces.8

Altogether, this is certainly a major shift in the military balance of Europe. Less than 10 years ago the Warsaw Pact enjoyed a 3:1 conventional force superiority over NATO, and a 2:1 superiority in theater and tactical nuclear weapons, as well as parity in strategic forces. The USSR alone was twice as strong in conventional forces as all European NATO states combined.

A numerical comparison of armed forces is an insufficient basis upon which to estimate the real war–fighting capabilities in offensive or defensive operations. However, due to the failures of Russian military reform from 1992–1997 and the chronic under-funding of Russian defense from 1997–1999 (in constant prices, during these 3 years, the military budget has fallen by 50 per cent), qualitative factors (training, combat readiness, command and control, troop morale, and technical sophistication of weapons and equipment, etc.) are presently even more favorable to NATO than pure numerical ratios might indicate. Such a fundamental shift is not conducive to Russian interests, irrespective of all other circumstances.9

At Russia’s southern rim, Turkey, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, and less likely Iran, may present security issues during the next 5–10 years. Most likely, such threats will not take a direct form, but rather will consist of support for regimes, political movements, or policies in the Transcaucasus and Central Asia, directed against Russia or its allies. Another possibility is that these states will engage in secessionist activities against Russia’s government (e.g., Chechnya), or against regimes friendly to Russia (e.g., Tajikistan).

In the Far East, Japan and China could pose a threat to Russia during the next 10–15 years. Japan’s conventional offensive capabilities in contrast to those of Russia will be quite limited for at least the next 10 years. The possible remilitarization of Japan and a revival of its expansionist strategies would represent a major change in the security environment of the Far East. A remilitarized Japan would require a profound revision of Russia’s regional military requirements, particularly its naval and air power. Of course this would not happen overnight, and Russia would have sufficient time to take adequate countermeasures.

China’s current military buildup, its geostrategic situation, and a long history of territorial disputes with Russia and the USSR might in the future encourage expansionist policies toward Russian Siberia and the Far East, or against Kazakhstan and other Central Asian allies of Moscow. In 10–15 years, China may achieve conventional offensive superiority along the Transbaikal and Maritime Province borders. Such an advantage would allow China to interdict Russian reinforcements from its European territory.

Whatever problems Russia faces in the former Soviet space around its current borders, prior to 1999 it was commonly accepted within the Russian political elite and strategic community that Russian armed forces were unlikely to be called upon to fight in a large–scale, theater–wide war in the foreseeable future, either in the east or in the west. In the Military Doctrine of 1993 there were references to the need for “defending against massive naval air strikes with high–precision weapons” (apparently mindful of the 1991 Gulf War precedent). However, this requirement for a defense against massive naval air strikes was not taken seriously and was never reflected in the military appropriations of 1994–1999. In fact, the inclusion of this scenario in the 1993 Military Doctrine was perceived as a tribute to Russia’s traditional military theorists and to the domestically motivated pandering to the defense establishment.

Former Minister of Defense Igor Rodionov advocated preparations for theater–wide conventional war with NATO. This, in turn, implied open–ended defense requirements and the need for a major increase in defense appropriations and force levels.10 Rodionov’s stance eventually led to conflict with the Secretary of the Defense Council, Yuri Baturin, and Boris Yeltsin, himself. The conflict ended with Rodionov’s demotion.

The Military Doctrine of 1993 postulated two main defense policy tasks: the simultaneous occurrence of stable nuclear deterrence and sound preparation to handle local conflicts (to include simultaneous peace enforcement and peacekeeping operations). However, President Yeltsin did not clearly formulate these principal doctrinal points until the appointment of Igor Sergeev as Minister of Defense in May 1997.

Despite tensions with NATO over the issue of its enlargement, the western military districts of Russia (Moscow, Leningrad, and Ural-Volga) were largely considered basing areas, providing a supply and training infrastructure for forces, and were assigned to missions in the south and southeast (in the North Caucasus military district, the Transcaucasus, and Central Asia, where Russia had security commitments and was engaged in local conflicts or in peacekeeping operations).

The defense budgets of 1997–1999 were structured accordingly, with a predominant portion (up to 70 per cent) allocated to the maintenance of the armed forces—while deeply cutting personnel numbers, altogether by 30 per cent. At the same time the investment appropriations—Research and Development (R&D), procurement, and production— were barely sufficient for modernization of the minimal strategic forces. This was all the more the case in that the federal budgets from 1994 on had never been fully implemented—with the exception of the 1999 budget—and annual cuts led to an even greater dominance of maintenance over investment (80:20 per cent).

Bombing of Yugoslavia revived worst instincts of the Cold War.

Kosovo’s Impact on Russian Perceptions of War and Politics

NATO’s attack on Yugoslavia in March 1999 marked a watershed in Russia’s assessment of its own military requirements and defense priorities. For the first time since the mid–1980s, within operational departments of the General Staff and Armed Forces, the Security Council, and Foreign Ministry crisis management groups, and in closed sessions of the Duma, serious discussions took place concerning military conflict with NATO. All of a sudden the apocalyptic scenarios of a Third World War (the types of scenarios so superbly presented in Tom Clancy’s best–selling suspense novels), which were presumed to have been permanently discarded with the end of the Cold War, returned to the table as practical policy making and military operational planning issues. Following an unprecedented decade, for both Russia and the United States, of disarmament, de–targeting, cooperation, and transparency in defense and security matters, this was like a cold shower, reviving the worst instincts and stereotypes of the Cold War.

However short the period—those first few weeks of NATO bombing in the Kosovo war—its impact will probably scar the U.S.–Russian relationship forever. The relationship will never again be what it was before March 24, 1999. The Clinton administration and its European allies bear full responsibility for this upheaval.

NATO attacks against Yugoslavia were perceived as a clear demonstration of a genuine transformation of the alliance. During the Cold War, NATO really was a defensive coalition of states, capable of protecting their territories and deterring the superior offensive military power of the Warsaw Pact. With the collapse of the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union, the immediate military threat very suddenly evaporated, and NATO inadvertently became by far the most powerful military force in the world.

Absent the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact, NATO discovered the military missions of peace enforcement and peacekeeping. This redirection would have been welcome and expedient if the alliance had trimmed its forces and structures radically and provided its services to the legitimate international security organizations: the UN and OSCE.

However, NATO was too powerful, exclusive, and sophisticated to succumb to such a modest secondary position. Therefore, it made claim to a loftier, post–Cold War mission: that of being on an equal footing to, and possibly at a much higher level of status and power than the UN and OSCE. NATO, by implication, proclaimed its right to act independently of UN or OSCE authorization. UN and OSCE authorization is still recognized as desirable, but not essential, for NATO to initiate military action. Moreover, the new alliance strategy allows for offensive military action beyond the territories of NATO member states. For those countries that do not belong to, nor aspire to membership in the alliance, there is profound reason to fear possible NATO military action based on arbitrary decisions. The legitimate judgments of the UN and the UN Security Council—as the highest international court of justice to make such verdicts and to execute just punishments—are no longer the basis for NATO decisions.

NATO's attack demonstrated Western arrogance.

On top of it all, Russia viewed NATO’s military action as a final humiliation and a “spit in the face.” NATO’s attack, more than ever before, demonstrated a Western arrogance of power and willingness to ignore Russian interests—especially when they diverged from those of the West.11 Kosovo also demonstrated Russia’s total impotence in supporting its own declarations and commitments with even minimally tangible actions. It was a particularly painful humiliation for Moscow, in that President Yeltsin had personally guaranteed Yugoslav security and had taken many initiatives to solve the crisis peacefully.

The explosion of national pride and enthusiasm that took place in June 1999, when a battalion of Russian paratroopers made its blitz–march from Bosnia to Kosovo, testified to Russia’s pain.12 This burst of enthusiasm, however, gave way to an even deeper sense of gloom and disappointment after the failure of Viktor Chernomyrdin’s mediatory mission. Far from achieving a negotiated settlement to the crisis, his visit did little more than to impose NATO dictates on Slobodan Milosevic and disperse Russian peacekeepers among NATO’s “occupation zones,” where they were subordinated to NATO commanders.

The military dimensions of the 1999 war are a subject to be explored in a separate study. Suffice it to say that NATO turned the war into a major military production, where the most advanced and sophisticated weapons, command and control systems, and operations and tactics were demonstrated. The campaign “Allied Force” continued for 78 days, with the participation of 14 out of 19 NATO member states. Altogether the NATO campaign employed 1,260 aircraft and 30 combat ships, including three aircraft carriers and six nuclear attack submarines with cruise missiles. NATO air power conducted 35,000 sorties, and about 15,000 bombs and missiles hit Yugoslavia. In preparation for a ground offensive, 27,000 troops were re–deployed to Albania and Macedonia. During the war the newest technology was extensively employed: stealth B–2 and F–117 airplanes; long–range, sea– and air–launched cruise missiles; guided bombs; cluster and penetrating munitions; space reconnaissance, communication and navigation systems; new, airborne warning and control systems; electronic warfare and counter–radar systems; and various kinds of drones, etc.

All of this frightening panoply of military power (representing almost 20 per cent of NATO’s full potential) was thrown against a small country with a population no larger than New York City, with a GNP smaller than the US military R&D budget, and an army of only 100,000 (armed with 1960s vintage Soviet weapons). Yugoslavia essentially failed to resist the massive air–campaign thrust upon it, symbolically firing back with only anti–aircraft guns and obsolete SA–6 and SA–7 missile systems.

As a preliminary conclusion it may be suggested that, oddly enough, this strange war in a post–Cold War Europe was technically well executed, but totally failed on the tactical and operational levels. It was a short–term strategic success, but appears to have failed to achieve the long–term strategic and political goals.

The initial goal of NATO was to degrade the Serbian Army, and its supply and infrastructure assets in Kosovo and across the rest of the country. The goal was to make the Serbian Army curtail its operations in Kosovo and retreat from the province, bringing an end to a humanitarian catastrophe and leading to the victory of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), trained and supplied by the West. However, when Serbian troops finally did depart Kosovo, it became apparent that only 13 tanks were destroyed, while 300 tanks and Armored Personnel Carriers remained intact. The Serbian Army survived a terrible beating in Kosovo and was prepared to meet a ground offensive and to inflict heavy casualties on the enemy. Apparently Western statistics on the Yugoslav Army’s losses in Kosovo, and elsewhere, were highly exaggerated. In fact, the Serbian Army and police continued their operations in Kosovo up to the very last day before the truce. The KLA was fully defeated and driven out of the province. Ethnic cleansing was conducted against Albanians at an unprecedented scale (ethnic cleansing of the Albanians escalated only after the initiation of the NATO air campaign). And, the Kosovo war expanded the humanitarian catastrophe to almost a million Albanian refugees (plus 200,000 Serbian refugees) who fled the province to escape ground pogroms, the fighting, and NATO bombing.

In addition to the failures just discussed, NATO’s war failed to achieve a very basic early goal. As in the 1991 Gulf War, NATO used the tactic of attempting to provoke all of the enemy’s Surface–to–Air Missile (SAM) radars into operation against the first waves of aircraft. The purpose here was for NATO to discover and then destroy the SAM radar system with anti–radiation missiles, thus depriving Yugoslavia of any air defense capability. Having disabled Yugoslavia’s air defense, Western aircraft would then be in a position to attack the Serbian Army with precision–guided weapons from a low altitude and to provide close air support to NATO forces in the case of an eventual ground invasion. However, the Serbs thwarted this ploy by not switching on their radar at the time of the early NATO air attacks. They chose to preserve their air defense system for a potential NATO ground invasion, retaining their system for use when NATO aircraft would have to fly at low altitudes in order to provide air cover for ground forces.

Then, failing to destroy Serbia’s air defense, NATO avoided flying at lower altitudes. That is why, in the end, NATO losses were so amazingly small: two airplanes and 16 drones, and not a single pilot killed in combat. At the same time, however, the Serbian Army was not seriously crippled.

Not having achieved its initial goal, the NATO alliance apparently changed its strategy to focus on the destruction of Yugoslav industrial assets, infrastructure, administrative, and communications facilities. In this pogrom against a defenseless country from an altitude of 10,000 meters, NATO air power was highly “successful” (although the famous precision–guided weapons sometimes hit the wrong targets: embassies, like that of China, and even the wrong countries— Macedonia and Albania). Seven weeks of bombarding Yugoslavia destroyed 100 per cent of the oil refineries, 70 per cent of the defense industry, 60 per cent of the fuel storage facilities, 100 per cent of the electrical line transformers, and 40 per cent of the TV and radio stations—including the Belgrade TV center, where 16 civilian employees were killed by missiles. In addition, 68 bridges were destroyed, and 70 per cent of the roads and 50 per cent of the railroads were put out of action.

Altogether 1,500 people were killed—two–thirds of them civilians—2,500 lost their homes, and two million became jobless. Other collateral damage included 86 historic monuments, and more than 300 schools, hospitals, etc.

The destruction of oil refineries, oil storage, and chemical plants caused significant ecological damage. The heavy pollution from all this destruction entered the Danube, one of Europe’s main rivers, and was carried into the Black Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean.

In late 1999, the Chief Prosecutor of the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, Carla del Ponte, reviewed complaints, not only of Serbian atrocities in Kosovo, but also of NATO crimes committed during the course of the bombing campaign, including the issue of gross violations of the Geneva Convention on the rights of civilians during combat.13

Overall, the Kosovo war caused Russia to reconsider the basic tenets of its security structure. The new versions of the National Security Concept and Military Doctrine largely reflect Moscow’s military reaction to the Balkan war.

New Defense Priorities

The principal point addressed by the new National Security Concept is that military threats to Russia are on the increase and the main danger emanates from the West: “Elevated to the level of strategic doctrine the shift of NATO to the practice of force employment outside its area of responsibility and without UN Security Council sanction is prone with the threat of destabilization of the whole strategic situation in the world.”14

One way for Russia to respond to this threat is to enhance its nuclear forces to deter not just nuclear, but also, large–scale conventional attacks of the type demonstrated in the Balkans. The new Military Doctrine states: “The Russian Federation reserves the right to use nuclear weapons in response to the use of nuclear and other mass destruction weapons—weapons [used] against Russia and its allies—as well as in response to a large–scale conventional aggression in critical situations for Russia and its allies.”15

Russia’s preference for a strong nuclear posture and its acknowledgement of the possibility of a first nuclear strike were already proclaimed in the 1993 Doctrine. During these times of economic, political, ideological, and military weakness and uncertainty, a combat ready (in contrast to de–alerted) nuclear arsenal is perceived by the majority of the new Russian political elite as the only legacy of its former status and influence in the world.

Russia’s historical position, as one of two major world powers, based on earlier nuclear and military might, allows it to symbolically remain equal to the United States and superior to all other nations. Russia’s traditional, conventional military superiority vis–à–vis NATO, Japan, and China has in fact declined during the last decade. Russia is now seriously inferior in terms of both quantitative and qualitative factors relating to theater military balances. Just as NATO employed a nuclear first use strategic concept during the decades after 1945 (when NATO needed to emphasize its nuclear forces in order to offset its conventional force vulnerabilities), Russia has chosen the same strategy. Since 1993, it has adopted a nuclear first use strategic concept in order to de–emphasize the weaknesses in its conventional military forces.

However, until the Yugoslav crisis, Russia’s National Security Concept was really a theoretical exercise, in that there was no serious external military threat—at least from the direction of the West. From 1993–1999 Russian strategic and tactical nuclear forces were consistently underfunded. Plans for modernization, operational plans, target lists, C3I systems and procedures were all stagnant. Nuclear forces were de–alerted and de–targeted, and their general readiness status was significantly relaxed.

Russian fear: “Today Yugoslavia – Tomorrow Russia.”

“Today Yugoslavia—Tomorrow Russia.” This is the deeply felt public consensus since NATO’s attack. A serious reassessment of Russian military reform became essential. Once again conventional forces would need to be ready for the type of high–technology warfare dictated by NATO and the West, rather than focusing on the requirements of local or regional ground wars in the south. In reality, however, development and deployment of sophisticated military capabilities, analogous to that of NATO’s massive, precision–guided, conventional air and naval potential, would for a long time be beyond Russia’s financial capacity. Therefore, the most probable Russian response, a response that is already taking shape, would be to place even greater emphasis on a robust nuclear deterrence, relying on enhanced strategic and tactical nuclear forces and their C3I systems.16

Accordingly, on March 18, 1999 a new law, On Financing the Defense Contract for Strategic Nuclear Forces, was adopted by the Duma and approved by the President. This law envisions stable, long–term funding for strategic forces R&D and procurement at a level of about 40 per cent of the investment portion of the defense budget.

Of equal importance, this law emphasizes tactical nuclear forces as the prime candidate for first use against a large conventional attack. The Iskander, a new, tactical ballistic missile (with a range of below 500 km—the INF–SRM limit) and a new, naval tactical nuclear weapons system were specifically discussed as nuclear options. Russian Minister of Defense Igor Sergeev pointed out that the highest priority was “creating an integrated system of different forces, including strategic and tactical nuclear components, which will permit a reasonable concentration of efforts and resources of state for enhancing deterrence and preserving Russia’s nuclear potential.”17

Nonetheless, some Russian critics claim that the threat of nuclear first use would not be a credible deterrent against NATO. Due to Russia’s shortage of funding for maintenance and modernization of its nuclear forces, NATO will acquire a clear–cut nuclear strategic and tactical superiority over Russia during the next 10 years. Whereas a suicidal threat of nuclear escalation could present a credible deterrent against a full–scale, theater–wide conventional aggression—including major ground warfare—Balkan–type selective air and naval strikes, even if massive and prolonged, might not be deterred.

The NATO bombing campaign against Yugoslavia has left the Russian people with a vivid image of a possible future scenario—with Russia on the receiving end of surgical strikes against industrial, infrastructure, and military targets. These strikes would be especially targeted against nuclear forces and C3I sites, and would be sufficiently selective not to provoke a nuclear response. They would, however, efficiently destroy Russia’s deterrence capability within a few days or weeks. This possible scenario has been of serious concern to the Russian military for quite some time. Since Yugoslavia, it has certainly moved up to the very top of the list of military challenges. 

Hence, the new emphasis on building up and modernizing Russia’s conventional air defense, air force, and naval assets (in particular S–300 and S–400 SAMs, a new air superiority fighter, Multi–role Front–line Fighter [MFI], and new Yahont–type naval missiles, as well as a new precision–guided, long–range, conventional Air–to–Ship Missile [ASM] to be based on heavy bombers). These should be capable of inflicting sufficient losses on attacking NATO forces and bases to induce NATO either to stop its aggression, or to escalate it to the level of massive conventional warfare, including a ground offensive. This would then justify Russia’s first use of tactical nuclear weapons. The main portion of the supplemental appropriations for the year 2000 defense budget (approximately 26 billion rubles) was allocated to such programs.

Still, even if Russian military expenditures are raised from the present 2.8 per cent to 3.5 per cent of GNP, the new funding will hardly be enough to support: a) strategic nuclear forces at the START–III level (2,000–2,500 warheads); b) enhanced, tactical nuclear capability to deter large–scale, conventional threats in the east and in the west; c) strong conventional defenses to prevent Balkan–type aggression; and d) at the same time address the requirements of managing local conflicts around Russia’s perimeters, plus peacekeeping operations. The requirement to manage border conflicts has just recently arisen with the new, Kosovo–influenced, war in the North Caucasus.

Actually, in spite of all the emphasis on enhanced nuclear deterrence, a clear shift of defense priorities exists. In the short–run, the new defense priorities are local, conventional combat and peacekeeping operations along Russia’s borders, in post–Soviet space. In the longer term, the new defense priorities include planning for a robust conventional defense against a “Balkan–type” threat to Russia and its allies.

The New Chechen War

A crucial provision of the new National Security Concept and the Military Doctrine is that they clearly spell out the possibility of employing armed forces in domestic conflicts. The armed forces are, by definition, militarily superior to Russian internal troops and police. The use of military forces to resolve domestic problems, however, must be regulated by strict legal rules and procedures. Otherwise, the practice of their use will potentially be a major threat to a young and weak Russian democracy. Although at present this doctrinal point is evidently and directly related to the war in Chechnya, the precedent of using military force to control domestic conflicts could be extended to any other domestic issue. This could then lead to dictatorial rule by a commander in chief, some military leader, or politician, supported by the armed forces.

It has to be recognized that Russia’s new war in Chechnya, initiated in the fall of 1999, and its effect on the relationship between Russia and the West are closely tied to the events that took place in Kosovo earlier in the year. The war in Yugoslavia had a significant impact on Russia’s leadership and public opinion.

The main lesson learned is that the goal justifies the means. The use of force is the most efficient problem solver, if applied decisively and massively. Negotiations are of dubious value and are to be used as a cover for military action. Legality of state actions, observation of laws and legal procedures, and humanitarian suffering are of secondary significance relative to achieving the goal. Limiting one’s own troop casualties is worth imposing massive devastation and collateral fatalities on civilian populations. Foreign public opinion and the position of Western governments are to be discounted if Russian interests are at stake. A concentrated and controlled mass media campaign is the key to success.

Kosovo removed the taboo against using force in Chechnya.

All of these lessons learned were applied beginning in September 1999 with deadly results in the Chechen war, a “counter–terrorist operation” that transformed into a large–scale war. The first Chechen war syndrome was over. The taboo against the use of force in a Chechen–like environment no longer existed. Because NATO proclaimed its right to attack a sovereign state to achieve NATO’s own aims, Russia was all the more entitled to use force on its own territory. Russia would make it clear that no one would be allowed to intervene in Russian domestic affairs. The West would be taught that Russia is not Yugoslavia. This is how Russia thinks today.

The use of force in Chechnya is based on what is, in fact, a flimsy legal foundation, just like NATO’s action against Yugoslavia. According to the Russian law On Defense, the use of armed forces (in contrast to internal troops and special police units) to resolve domestic problems is regulated by the law On the State of Emergency. On the State of Emergency was adopted in 1999 and is now outdated. It permits the use of armed forces only for relief operations in natural and man–made catastrophes. Armed forces may never be used for domestic combat actions.

However, as was shown by both the Chechen war of 1994–1996 and the current campaign, internal troops and police, lacking heavy weapons and training in field combat actions, cannot cope with well–armed, organized, skilled, and motivated guerilla forces. For that reason, in both cases, Russian armed forces were employed. And, they were used without introducing the legally required State of Emergency. Lacking a declared State of Emergency, the wars were deprived of a proper federal legal foundation. The cost was high. There were huge additional losses and damage to the civilian population and federal forces, and many new problems were created for both Russian domestic politics and foreign policy.18

Although not based on the State of Emergency, the use of armed forces in the new Chechen campaign was officially sanctioned by, but not strictly covered by, another law, On Struggle with Terrorism. This law allows the use of armed forces in concrete operations against specific cases of terrorism and clearly defined terrorists. It does not authorize their use in long, large–scale military campaigns that use aircraft, armor, and artillery, nor in campaigns that devastate whole cities and villages, resulting in huge losses among federal troops (8,000 killed and wounded in 8 months), plus even heavier losses among the local population.

Russia’s dubious justification for the Chechen war and the war’s weak legal foundation are, among other things, serious reasons for the West’s strong condemnation of Russia’s actions. The results of the second Chechen war are questionable at best. The Chechen territory was re–conquered, but not without expense. Great losses occurred among federal troops and the local civilian population. There was large–scale devastation of property and of the local economies—foremost in the city of Grozny, but in many smaller towns and villages as well. Guerilla warfare will continue in Chechnya and will prevent social and political stabilization or economic restoration. Moreover, the threat of a horizontal escalation of massive warfare to the neighboring North Caucasus Republics and the Transcaucasus remains quite serious.

Hence, one of the crucial dilemmas of Russian domestic and military policy is whether using Russian armed forces in internal conflicts should be legalized by amending On the State of Emergency. Is it better to amend the law, given all the political dangers and devastating collateral effects inherent in that action, or to lose control over armed secessionist movements, armed revolts, and violent civil, ethnic, and religious conflicts, knowing that they cannot be effectively dealt with by internal troops and police? Another important issue is whether funding the use of armed forces and operations in Chechen–type conflicts will consume resources needed for nuclear deterrence and robust, sophisticated, conventional defense systems against a “Balkan–type” threat.

Russian Defense and Budget Options

Even the broadest defense and budget assessments reveal that the principal priorities of Russian defense policy are hardly realistic under present and projected budget levels. Moreover, these priorities are clearly unattainable alongside the implementation of an actual Chechen–type military operation.

The Russian 2000 defense budget is currently defined at 146 billion rubles (approximately 5 billion dollars, using the commercial exchange rate, and probably 10–15 billion dollars, in terms of purchasing capacity). This is 2.8 per cent of Russia’s GNP and 16 per cent of its total federal budget.

Given the ongoing Chechen war, and assuming that it continues and spreads to other areas (at an annual cost of about 50 billion rubles), and that it receives further funding from Ministry of Defense and Ministry for Internal Affairs appropriations, there will be barely enough money to sustain the strategic nuclear forces (SNF) at a level of around 1,000 warheads, or even less, by the year 2010. SNF at this level will not provide credible, enhanced nuclear deterrence. Nor will any funding be available for training and equipping even minimal forces for other local contingencies or minimal modernized forces for “Balkan–type” defenses. If the war in Chechnya were to be over in the nearest future, then SNF could be maintained at a level of 1,500 warheads, and minimal forces for local conflicts could be funded by the year 2010.

If the defense budget were to be raised to 3.5 per cent of GNP (as was planned, but never fulfilled, by the Yeltsin administration)—an amount that would correspond to 180 billion rubles in the 2000 budget—and the armed forces were maintained at their present level of 1.2 million personnel, some additional options might be available.

One would be to maintain SNF at a level of 1,500 warheads in 10 years’ time; to expand, train, and modernize forces for local conflicts; and to provide for a minimal defense against a “Balkan–type” threat. (See Future Russian Force Options below, Option A)

A second option would be to maintain SNF at a level of 2,000–2,500 warheads (corresponding to the START–III framework agreement of 1997), but to retain minimal force capability for local conflicts and virtually no defense capability against a “Balkan–type” contingency. (Option B) The third major alternative would be to raise defense appropriations to 3.5 per cent of GNP, while at the same time reducing the armed forces to 0.8 million personnel and changing the ratio between the maintenance and investment portions of the defense budget to 55:45 per cent or even 50:50 per cent. This would allow the maintenance of SNF at a level of 3,000 warheads in 10 years (equivalent to the START–II ceiling), and it would simultaneously provide for expanded local conflict forces and a minimal “Balkan–type” conventional defense. (Option C)

Another option might be to retain the 2,000 SNF level and to fund moderate forces for local contingencies and “Balkan–type” defenses. (Option D)

Portrait image
Futire Russian Force Options

Finally, it would be possible to reduce the SNF warhead level to 1,500 (modifying START–III) and to expand forces for local conflicts and robust defense against a “Balkan–type” threat. (Option E)    

All of the above considerations are, of course, predicated on the war in Chechnya being brought to a close and avoiding similar operations for the next 10 years. For a number of reasons, it is impossible at this time to provide more detailed financial and technical descriptions of the various nuclear and conventional postures described above. While the new Russian President will make the decision about Russia’s long–term defense strategy, the last option seems preferable to all others. It does not pose new confrontations with the West and may provide Russia with an increased national security confidence. These two factors could result in more equal and stable political and military relations with the United States and NATO.

Pillars of new Military Doctrine: nuclear deterrence, nuclear first use, robust conventional defense, military role in domestic conflicts.

Restoring Cooperation between Russia and the West

It must be recognized that, under the cover of empty declarations and pompous summits, Russian–U.S. and Russian–Western relations have deeply deteriorated during the last half of the 1990s. The growing rift is reflected in Russia’s adopting new versions of its most important official documents: the National Security Concept and the Military Doctrine. These documents emphasize nuclear deterrence and nuclear first use as the principal pillars of Russian security, a robust conventional defense against threats posed by NATO, and the routine use of armed forces to deal with local, including domestic, conflicts.

To prevent further tensions and military confrontation between Russia and the West, U.S.–Russian and NATO–Russian security cooperation must be patiently and consistently rebuilt step–by–step. This must be accomplished on a pragmatic basis and without excessive expectations, gradually expanding the zone of cooperation, while at the same time building the required solid public support.

The United States should apply no official, public pressure on Moscow on the issue of Chechnya. Moscow should revise its Chechnya operation, curtailing large–scale offensive actions and concentrating on special operations against guerilla units and leaders. If NATO’s Kosovo peacekeeping operation were realigned to comply with UN Security Council Resolution No. 1244,19 a revival of the NATO–Russian “Partnership for Peace” would be encouraged.20 Ratification of START–II by the Duma on April 14, 2000 provides a good beginning for the development of a cooperative security policy between Russia and the West. Now it depends largely on the United States as to whether a new START–III/Anti–Ballistic Missile (ABM) package can be negotiated.

Other steps to be taken should include a tacit understanding that there will be no further NATO expansion during the next several years. The NATO–Russia Permanent Joint Council (PJC), an integral part of the NATO–Russia Founding Act of May 1997, was created to “be the principal venue of consultation between Russia and NATO in times of crisis or for any other situation affecting peace and stability.” The PJC forum could be used to develop and finalize agreements, as well as to plan and prepare joint peacekeeping operations, on which Moscow by definition should participate as an equal with NATO member states.

It must be recognized, at least tacitly, that NATO will only implement any new out–of–area military action with the authorization of the UN Security Council. Deep reductions and a restructuring of conventional forces for joint peacekeeping operations could be a goal for CFE–2.

Rebuild security cooperation between Russia and the West step–by–step.

Even if all these goals are achieved, the great dreams of the early 1990s of a post–Cold War integration, partnership, and even strategic alliance will hardly be revived. However, it is possible to stop further disintegration of international security and arms control regimes. A reasonable measure of cooperation between Russia and the West can be enhanced, until the time when major new Russian domestic and Western foreign policy and strategy reforms may open the door for a much closer economic, political, and military integration. 


1 Some preliminary considerations and conclusions of this paper were presented at a lecture by the author at a conference on “The New World Order: Russia Between East and West,” Tel Aviv University, April 3–5, 2000.

2 The “Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security between the Russian Federation and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization” was agreed on May 14, 1997 and approved by the North Atlantic Council on May 16, 1997. Among other things it declared that:

...Russia and NATO do not consider each other as adversaries. They share the goal of overcoming the vestiges of earlier confrontation and competition and of strengthening mutual trust and cooperation. The present Act reaffirms the determination of Russia and NATO to give concrete substance to their shared commitment to build a stable, peaceful and undivided Europe, whole and free, to the benefit of all its peoples.  Making this commitment at the highest political level marks the beginning of a fundamentally new relationship between Russia and NATO. They intend to develop, on the basis of common interest, reciprocity and transparency a strong, stable and enduring partnership...

To achieve the aims of this Act, Russia and NATO will base their relations on a shared commitment to the following principles:

  • refraining from the threat or use of force against each other as well as against any other State, its sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence in any manner inconsistent with the United Nations Charter and with the Declaration of Principles Guiding Relations Between Participating States contained in the Helsinki Final Act;
  • respect for sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all States and their inherent right to choose the means to ensure their own security, the inviolability of borders and peoples’ right of self–determination as enshrined in the Helsinki Final Act and other OSCE documents.

3 On January 24, 1994, Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin signed an agreement on de–targeting both countries’ strategic nuclear forces by May 30 of that year. According to later official statements, that goal was reached on schedule. Great Britain joined this agreement on February 15, 1994. On September 2, 1994, Russia and China signed a de–targeting agreement. These agreements are primarily symbolic due to their essentially unverifiable nature. Yeltsin undermined them even further in April 1999 when he addressed the re–targeting of strategic missiles against states engaged in the bombing of Yugoslavia. Although probably just another of Yeltsin’s notorious improvisations on strategic matters (there was no subsequent official confirmation), he put the validity of these re–targeting agreements into question.

4 A strict Muslim sect.

5 “The National Security Concept of the Russian Federation,” Nezavisimoye Voennoe Obozrenie (Independent Military Review), No. 1, January 14–20, 2000, pp.1–6. (See Appendix B)

6 “The Military Doctrine of the Russian Federation,” Nezavisimaya Gazeta (Independent Newspaper), April 22, 2000. (See Appendix A) 

7 Based on the commercial exchange rate.

8 Whether the West’s strategic nuclear superiority is 30 per cent, 2:1, or 3:1, depends on the outcome of future arms control treaties and the level of funding for Russian strategic forces.

9 S. Oznobistchev, “Cooperation between Russia and NATO: Doubts and Prospects,” PRISM, Vol. 3, No. 10, June 1997, pp. 5–11.

10 On October 1, 1996, Defense Minister Igor Rodionov told a Moscow press conference that the 98.7 trillion rubles (18 billion dollars) allocated to the armed forces in the draft 1997 budget would cover only one–third of the military’s needs. Krasnaya Zvezda (Red Star), October 2, 1996.

11 Elsewhere I have emphasized the “wide consensus in Russia that the Balkans remain the only region outside the post–Soviet space where Moscow has retained serious economic, political and security interests. At least Russia has much greater reasons to hold this view than the United States. And this has nothing to do with the ‘Slavic orthodox fraternity,’ which is a subject of speculation by nationalists in Russia and Yugoslavia, as well as an easy and empty explanation of Russian behavior in the West. The Balkans are directly adjacent to the Black–Caspian Sea zone of vital Russian interests. The Balkans are a possible route for Russian oil and gas pipelines (with terminals at the Russian Black Sea shore and shipping across the Black Sea) to circumvent the Turkish Black Sea Straits, which are periodically closed to Russian oil tankers. Developments in the Balkans affect Russia’s relations with Ukraine, Moldova, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey and the volatile Transcaucasus and North Caucasus sub–regions. The Russian political and military presence in the Black Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean is highly dependent on Russian positions in the Balkans. Also, Moscow highly values the Serbian stance against NATO expansion, fully shared by Russia and very few other European countries. If this is one of the reasons why the West does not like Milosevic, any military pressure on Yugoslavia would be as disagreeable to Russia as Russian military pressure on countries that are applicants to NATO would be unacceptable to the West.” Alexei G. Arbatov, “The Kosovo Crisis: The End of the Post–Cold War Era,” Occasional Paper, The Atlantic Council of the United States, Washington, DC: March 2000, p. 11.

12 ITAR–TASS, June 11–13, 1999.

13 On June 2, 2000, she informed the UN Security Council that there was no basis for a formal investigation into whether NATO had committed war crimes during the bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999. Barbara Crossette, “U.N. War Crimes Prosecutor Declines to Investigate NATO,” New York Times, June 3, 2000, p. 3. However, on June 6, Amnesty International accused NATO of unlawfully killing civilians during the Kosovo conflict and branded one attack that killed 16 people a war crime. Pauline Jelinek, “Report Calls NATO Raid in Belgrade A War Crime,” Washington Post, June 7, 2000, p. 26.

14 “National Security Concept.” (See Appendix B)

15 “Military Doctrine.” (See Appendix A)

16 Vadim Solovev and Vladimir Mukhin, “NATO declares its preparedness for operations on a worldwide scale. Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation formulates a geopolitical counter-balance.” Nezavisimoye Voennoe Obozrenie (Independent Military Review), April 30–May 6, 1999, pp. 1–2. 

17 Igor Sergeev, “The Foundations of Military–Technical Policy of Russia in the Beginning of the XXI Century,” Krasnaya Zvezda (Red Star), December 9, 1999.

18 The main point of the 1999 impeachment effort almost adopted by the Duma against Yeltsin was the first Chechen war.

19 Sergey V. Lavrov, Russian Ambassador to the United Nations, has pointed out a number of problems in the implementation of this resolution. “Divergent Views Expressed as Security Council Hears Kosovo Mission Report,” UN Press Release SC/6856, May 11, 2000, pp. 4–5.

20 For the first time since NATO’s Kosovo operation, Russia participated at the ambassadorial level in the NATO–Russia Permanent Joint Council in Brussels and then at the ministerial level in Florence on May 24, 2000. ITAR–TASS, May 25, 2000.


ABM – Anti–Ballistic Missile
ASM – Air–to–Ship Missile
CFE – Conventional Armed Forces of Europe
CTBT– Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty
CWC – Chemical Weapons Convention
GNP – Gross National Product
INF – Intermediate–Range Nuclear Forces
KLA – Kosovo Liberation Army
MFI – Multi–role Front–line Fighter
NATO – North Atlantic Treaty Organization
OSCE – Organization for Security and Cooperation
PJC – NATO–Russian Permanent Joint Council
R&D – Research and Development
SAM – Surface–to–Air Missile
SNF – Strategic Nuclear Forces
SRM – Shorter–Range Missiles
START – Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty
USSR – Union of Soviet Socialist Republics

Appendix A

Russian Federation Military Doctrine

(Approved by Russian Federation Presidential Decree of 21 April 2000 - This is a shortened version of the original document. It retains the sections most relevant to Dr. Arbatov's paper. A Russian text appeared in Nezavisimoye Voennoye Obozreniye (Internet Version), Moscow, January 14, 2000 and was translated by FBIS as LD1601160300. Text and spellings reflect the Marshall Center format.)

The Russian Federation Military Doctrine (hereinafter, the Military Doctrine) constitutes the sum total of the official views (precepts) determining the military–political, military–strategic, and military–economic foundations for safeguarding the Russian Federation’s military security.

The Military Doctrine is a document for a transitional period—the period of the formation of democratic statehood and a mixed economy, the transformation of the state’s military organization, and the dynamic transformation of the system of international relations...

I.   Military–Political Principles

Military–Political Situation

1. The state of and prospects for the development of the present–day military–political situation are determined by the qualitative improvement in the means, forms, and methods of military conflict, by the increase in its reach and the severity of its consequences, and by its spread to new spheres.   The possibility of achieving military–political goals through indirect, non–close–quarter operations predetermines the particular danger of modern wars and armed conflicts for peoples and states and for preserving international stability and peace, and makes it vitally necessary to take exhaustive measures to prevent them and to achieve a peaceful settlement of differences at early stages of their emergence and development.

2. The military–political situation is determined by the following main factors:

  • a decline in the threat of the unleashing of a large–scale war, including a nuclear war;
  • the shaping and strengthening of regional power centers; the strengthening of national, ethnic, and religious extremism; the rise in separatism;
  • the spread of local wars and armed conflicts; an increase in the regional arms race;
  • the spread of nuclear and other types of weapons of mass destruction and delivery systems; the exacerbation of information confrontation.

3. A destabilizing impact on the military–political situation is exerted by:

  • attempts to weaken (ignore) the existing mechanism for safeguarding international security (primarily the UN and the OSCE);
  • the utilization of military–force actions as a means of “humanitarian intervention” without the sanction of the UN Security Council, in circumvention of the generally accepted principles and norms of international law;
  • the violation by certain states of international treaties and agreements in the sphere of arms limitation and disarmament;
  • the utilization by entities in international relations of information and other (including nontraditional) means and technologies for aggressive (expansionist) purposes;
  • the activities of extremist nationalist, religious, separatist, and terrorist movements, organizations, and structures;
  • the expansion of the scale of organized crime, terrorism, and weapons and drug trafficking, and the multinational nature of these activities.

The Main Threats to Military Security

4. Under present–day conditions the threat of direct military aggression in traditional forms against the Russian Federation and its allies has declined thanks to positive changes in the international situation, the implementation of an active peace–loving foreign–policy course by our country, and the maintenance of Russia’s military potential—primarily its nuclear deterrent potential—at an adequate level.   At the same time, external and internal threats to the military security of the Russian Federation and its allies persist and in certain areas are increasing.

5. The main external threats are:

  • territorial claims against the Russian Federation; interference in the Russian Federation’s internal affairs;
  • attempts to ignore (infringe) the Russian Federation’s interests in resolving international security problems, and to oppose its strengthening as one influential center in a multipolar world;
  • the existence of seats of armed conflict, primarily close to the Russian Federation’s state border and the borders of its allies;
  • the creation (buildup) of groups of troops (forces) leading to the violation of the existing balance of forces, close to the Russian Federation’s state border and the borders of its allies or on the seas adjoining their territories;
  • the expansion of military blocs and alliances to the detriment of the Russian Federation’s military security;
  • the introduction of foreign troops in violation of the UN Charter on the territory of friendly states adjoining the Russian Federation;
  • the creation, equipping, and training on other states’ territories of armed formations and groups with a view to transferring them for operations on the territory of the Russian Federation and its allies;
  • attacks (armed provocations) on Russian Federation military installations located on the territory of foreign states, as well as on installations and facilities on the Russian Federation’s state border, the borders of its allies, or the high seas;
  • actions aimed at undermining global and regional stability, not least by hampering the work of Russian systems of state and military rule, or at disrupting the functioning of strategic nuclear forces, missile–attack early–warning, antimissile defense, and space monitoring systems and systems for ensuring their combat stability, nuclear munition storage facilities, nuclear power generation, the nuclear and chemical industries, and other potentially dangerous installations;
  • hostile information (information–technical, [and] information–psychological) operations that damage the military security of the Russian Federation and its allies;
  • discrimination and the suppression of the rights, freedoms, and legitimate interests of the citizens of the Russian Federation in foreign states;
  • international terrorism.

6. The main internal threats are:

  • an attempted violent overthrow of the constitutional order;
  • illegal activities by extremist nationalist, religious, separatist, and terrorist movements, organizations, and structures aimed at violating the unity and territorial integrity of the Russian Federation and destabilizing the domestic political situation in the country;
  • the planning, preparation, and implementation of operations aimed at disrupting the functioning of federal organs of state power and attacking state, economic, or military facilities, or facilities related to vital services or the information infrastructure;
  • the creation, equipping, training, and functioning of illegal armed formations;
  • the illegal dissemination (circulation) on Russian Federation territory of weapons, ammunition, explosives, and other means which could be used to carry out sabotage, acts of terrorism, or other illegal operations;
  • organized crime, terrorism, smuggling, and other illegal activities on a scale threatening the Russian Federation’s military security.

Safeguarding Military Security

7. . . . The Russian Federation:

  • proceeds on the basis of the abiding importance of the fundamental principles and norms of international law, which are organically intertwined and supplement each other;
  • maintains the status of nuclear power to deter (prevent) aggression against it and (or) its allies;
  • implements a joint defense policy together with the Republic of Belarus, coordinates with it activities in the  sphere of military organizational development, the development of the armed forces of the Union State’s member states, and the utilization of military infrastructure, and takes other measures to maintain the Union State’s defense capability;
  • attaches priority importance to strengthening the collective security system within the CIS framework on the basis of developing and strengthening the Collective Security Treaty;
  • views as partners all states whose policies do not damage its national interests and security and do not contravene the UN Charter;
  • gives preference to political, diplomatic, and other nonmilitary means of preventing, localizing, and neutralizing military threats at regional and global levels;
  • strictly observes the Russian Federation’s international treaties in the sphere of arms limitation, reduction, and elimination, and promotes their implementation and the safeguarding of the arrangements they define;
  • punctiliously implements the Russian Federation’s international treaties as regards strategic offensive arms and antimissile defense, and is ready for further reductions in its nuclear weapons, on a bilateral basis with the United States as well as on a multilateral basis with other nuclear states, to minimal levels meeting the requirements of strategic stability;
  • advocates making universal the regime covering the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons and their delivery systems, resolutely enhancing the effectiveness of that regime through a combination of prohibitive, monitoring, and technological measures, and ending and comprehensively banning nuclear testing;
  • promotes the expansion of confidence–building measures between states in the military sphere, including reciprocal exchanges of information of a military nature and the coordination of military doctrines, plans, military organizational development measures, and military activity.

8. The Russian Federation’s military security is safeguarded by the sum total of the forces, means, and resources at its disposal.  Under present–day conditions the Russian Federation proceeds on the basis of the need to have a nuclear potential capable of guaranteeing a set level of damage to any aggressor (state or coalition of states) under any circumstances. The nuclear weapons with which the Russian Federation Armed Forces are equipped are seen by the Russian Federation as a factor in deterring aggression, safeguarding the military security of the Russian Federation and its allies, and maintaining international stability and peace.  The Russian Federation reserves the right to use nuclear weapons in response to the use of nuclear and other types of weapons of mass destruction against it and (or) its allies, as well as in response to large–scale aggression utilizing conventional weapons in situations critical to the national security of the Russian Federation. The Russian Federation will not use nuclear weapons against states party to the Nonproliferation Treaty that do not possess nuclear weapons except in the event of an attack on the Russian Federation, the Russian Federation Armed Forces or other troops, its allies, or a state to which it has security commitments that is carried out or supported by a state without nuclear weapons jointly or in the context of allied commitments with a state with nuclear weapons.


II. Military–Strategic Principles

Nature of Wars and Armed Conflicts

1. The Russian Federation maintains a readiness to wage war and take part in armed conflicts exclusively with a view to preventing and repulsing aggression, protecting the integrity and inviolability of its territory, and safeguarding the Russian Federation’s military security as well as that of its allies in accordance with international treaties.

2. The nature of modern wars (armed conflicts) is determined by their military–political goals, the means of achieving those goals, and the scale of the military operations. In accordance with this a modern war (armed conflict) may be:

a) in terms of military–political goals:

  • just (not contravening the UN Charter and the fundamental norms and principles of international law, and waged as self–defense by the party subject to aggression);
  • unjust (contravening the UN Charter and the fundamental norms and principles of international law, falling within the definition of aggression, and waged by the party undertaking the armed attack);

b) in terms of means utilized:

  • using nuclear and other types of weapons of mass destruction;
  • using only conventional weapons;

c) in terms of scale: local, regional, or large–scale.

3. The main general features of modern war are:

  • its impact on all spheres of human activity;
  • its coalition nature;
  • the extensive use of indirect, non–close–quarter, and other (including nontraditional) forms and means of operation, and long–range effective engagement and electronic engagement;
  • a desire on the part of the sides to disrupt the system of state and military command and control;
  • the use of highly efficient state–of–the–art systems of arms and military hardware (including those based on new physical principles);
  • highly maneuverable operations by troops (forces) in disparate areas with the extensive utilization of air–mobile forces, airborne troops, and special–purpose forces;
  • attacks against troops (forces), rear–service and economic facilities, and means of communication throughout the territory of each of the warring parties;
  • the implementation of air campaigns and operations; the catastrophic consequences of hitting (destroying) power–generation enterprises (above all nuclear), chemical and other dangerous production facilities, infrastructure, means of communication, and vital installations;
  • a high likelihood of new states being drawn into the war, the escalation of warfare, and the expansion of the scale and range of the means employed, including weapons of mass destruction;
  • the participation in the war of irregular armed formations alongside regular units conducted within the territory of a single state).

6. Armed conflict is characterized by:

  • a high degree of involvement and vulnerability of the local population;
  • the use of irregular armed formations;
  • the extensive utilization of sabotage and terrorist methods;
  • the complex moral and psychological atmosphere in which the troops operate;
  • the enforced diversion of considerable forces and assets to safeguard the security of transportation routes or areas and locations where troops (forces) are sited;
  • the threat that it may be transformed into a local war ([in the case of an] international armed conflict) or civil war ([in the case of an] internal armed conflict).


9. A large–scale war may result from an escalation of an armed conflict, local or regional war, or from the involvement in them of a significant number of states from different parts of the world. A large–scale war utilizing only conventional weapons will be characterized by a high likelihood of escalating into a nuclear war with catastrophic consequences for civilization and the foundations of human life and existence.  In a large–scale war the sides will set radical military–political goals. It requires the total mobilization of all the material and spiritual resources of the states involved.


Principles Governing the Use of the Russian Federation Armed Forces and Other Troops

13. The Russian Federation considers it lawful to utilize the Russian Federation Armed Forces and other troops to repulse aggression directed against it. The Russian Federation Armed Forces and other troops can also be used for protection against unconstitutional actions or illegal armed violence threatening the integrity and inviolability of Russian Federation territory, to perform missions in accordance with the Russian Federation’s international treaties, and to perform other missions in accordance with federal legislation.

14. The goals of the use of the Russian Federation Armed Forces and other troops are:

  • in a large–scale (regional) war in the event that it is unleashed by a state (group or coalition of states):  to protect the independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of the Russian Federation and its allies, to repulse aggression, to effectively engage the enemy, and to force it to end its military operations on terms according with the interests of the Russian Federation and its allies;
  • in local wars and international armed conflicts: to localize the seat of tension, to create the prerequisites for ending the war or armed conflict or for bringing it to an end at an early stage; to neutralize the aggressor and achieve a settlement on terms according with the interests of the Russian Federation and its allies;
  • in internal armed conflicts: to rout and liquidate illegal armed formations, to create the conditions for a full settlement of the conflict on the basis of the Russian Federation Constitution and federal legislation;
  • in peacekeeping and peace restoration operations: to disengage the warring factions, to stabilize the situation, and to ensure the conditions for a just peace settlement.

15. The main ways of utilizing the Russian Federation Armed Forces and other troops are:

  • strategic operations, operations, and combat operations: in large–scale and regional wars;
  • operations and combat operations: in local wars and international armed conflicts;
  • joint special operations: in internal armed conflicts;
  • counterterrorist operations: in the fight against terrorism in accordance with federal legislation;
  • peacekeeping operations.

16. The Russian Federation Armed Forces and other troops should be prepared to repulse aggression, effectively engage an aggressor, and conduct active operations (both defensive and offensive) under any scenario for the unleashing and waging of wars and armed conflicts, under conditions of the massive use by the enemy of modern and advanced combat weapons, including weapons of mass destruction of all types.  At the same time, the Russian Federation Armed Forces must ensure the implementation of peacekeeping activities by the Russian Federation both independently and as part of international organizations.

17. The main missions of the Russian Federation Armed Forces and other troops:


c) in domestic armed conflicts:

  • the routing and liquidation of illegal armed formations and bandit and terrorist groups and organizations and the destruction of their bases, training centers, depots, and communications;
  • restoration of the rule of law, and of law and order;
  • safeguarding of public security and stability;
  • maintenance of the legal regime of a state of emergency in the conflict zone;
  • localization and blockading of the conflict zone;
  • termination of armed clashes and disengagement of the warring parties;
  • confiscation of weapons from the population in the conflict zone;
  • strengthening of protection of public order and security in regions adjacent to the conflict zone.

The performance of missions in the prevention and termination of domestic armed conflicts, the localization and blockading of conflict zones, and the elimination of illegal armed formations, bands, and terrorist groups is entrusted to joint (multidepartment) groups of troops (forces) created on an ad hoc basis and their organs of command and control;

d) in operations to maintain and restore peace:

  • disengagement of the conflicting parties’ armed groups;
  • safeguarding of the conditions for the delivery of humanitarian aid to the civilian population and their evacuation from the conflict zone;
  • blockading of the conflict zone with a view to ensuring the implementation of sanctions adopted by the international community;
  • creation of the preconditions for a political settlement.


20. With a view to forming and maintaining stability and ensuring an appropriate response to the emergence of external threats at an early stage, limited contingents of the Russian Federation Armed Forces and other troops may be deployed in strategically important regions outside the territory of the Russian Federation, in the form of joint or national groups and individual bases (facilities).  The conditions for such deployment are defined by the appropriate international legal documents.

21. When mixed military formations of the CIS are created, they are manned by servicemen of the member states in accordance with their national legislation and the interstate agreements adopted.   Servicemen who are citizens of the Russian Federation serve in such formations, as a rule, under contract. Russian troop formations located on the territory of foreign states, irrespective of the conditions of deployment, form part of the Russian Federation Armed Forces and other troops and operate in accordance with the procedure there established, taking into account the requirements of the UN Charter, UN Security Council resolutions, and the Russian Federation’s bilateral and multilateral treaties.

III.     Military–Economic Principles


Military–Economic Provision for Military Security


4. The main principles of military–economic provision are:

  • to bring the level of financial and material provision for the state’s military organization into line with the requirements of military security and the state’s resource potential;
  • to focus financial, material, technical, and intellectual resources on resolving the key tasks of safeguarding military security;
  • to provide state support for enterprises (production facilities) and institutions (organizations) determining the military–technical and technological stability of the defense–industry complex, factory–town enterprises, and closed administrative–territorial entities;
  • to ensure scientific, technical, technological, information, and resource independence in the development and production of the main types of military output.

5. The basic guidelines for the mobilization preparation of the economy are:  

  • the preparation of an economic management system to ensure stable functioning during the period of transition to work under martial law conditions and during wartime;
  • the creation, improvement, and effective functioning of a system of mobilization preparation for organs of state power, as well as organizations and enterprises with mobilization missions;
  • the optimization and development of the requisite mobilization capacity and facilities;
  • the creation, accumulation, preservation, and renewal of stockpiles of material resources in mobilization and state reserves;
  • the creation and preservation of fallback stocks of design and technical documentation for wartime;
  • the preservation and development of the economic facilities required for the stable functioning of the economy and the population’s survival during wartime;
  • the preparation of the financial, credit, and tax systems and the money–supply system for a special system of functioning under martial law conditions;
  • the development and improvement of the normative–legal base for mobilization preparation and the transition of the Russian Federation economy, Russian Federation components, and municipal formations to work in accordance with the established plans.

International Military (Military–Political) and Military–Technical Cooperation

6. The Russian Federation implements international military (military–political) and military–technical cooperation on the basis of its own national interests and the need to ensure the balanced performance of the missions of safeguarding military security. International military (military–political) and military–technical cooperation is the state’s prerogative.

7. The Russian Federation implements international military (military–political) and military–technical cooperation on the basis of foreign–policy and economic expediency and the missions of safeguarding the military security of the Russian Federation and its allies, in accordance with federal legislation and the Russian Federation’s international treaties, on the basis of the principles of equal rights, mutual advantage, and good–neighborliness, and observing the interests of international stability and national, regional, and global security.

8. The Russian Federation attaches priority importance to the development of military (military–political) and military–technical cooperation with CIS Collective Security Treaty states on the basis of the need to consolidate the efforts to create a single defense area and safeguard collective military security.  The Russian Federation, reaffirming its fundamental adherence to the ideas of deterring aggression, preventing wars and armed conflicts, and maintaining international security and universal peace, guarantees the consistent and firm implementation of the Military Doctrine.

Appendix B

Russia’s National Security Concept

(Approved by Russian Federation Presidential Decree of 10 January 2000 - This is a shortened version of the original document. It retains the sections most relevant to Dr. Arbatov's paper. A Russian text appeared in Nezavisimoye Voennoye Obozreniye (Internet Version), Moscow, January 14, 2000 and was translated by FBIS as LD1601160300. Text and spellings reflect the Marshall Center format.)

The National Security Concept of the Russian Federation is a system of views on how to ensure in the Russian Federation the security of the individual, society, and state against external and internal threats in any aspect of life and activity. The concept defines the most important directions of the state policy of the Russian Federation. The national security of the Russian Federation is understood to mean the security of its multinational people, in whom reside sovereignty and the sole source of authority in the Russian Federation.

I. Russia in the World Community

The situation in the world is characterized by a dynamic transformation of the system of international relations. Following the end of the bipolar confrontation era, two mutually–exclusive trends took shape.  The first of these trends shows itself in the strengthened economic and political positions of a significant number of states and their integrative associations and in improved mechanisms for multilateral management of international processes. Economic, political, scientific and technological, environmental, and information factors are playing an ever–increasing role. Russia will facilitate the formation of an ideology of establishing a multipolar world on this basis.

The second trend shows itself in attempts to create an international relations structure based on domination by developed Western countries in the international community, under US leadership and designed for unilateral solutions (above all via the use of military force) of key issues in world politics by circumventing the fundamental rules of international law. The formation of international relations is accompanied by competition and also by the aspiration of a number of states to strengthen their influence on global politics, including by creating weapons of mass destruction. Military force and coercion remain substantial aspects of international relations.

Russia is one of the world’s powers, with centuries of history and rich cultural traditions. Despite the complex international situation and its own temporary difficulties, Russia continues to play an important role in global processes by virtue of its great economic, scientific, technological and military potential and its unique strategic location on the Eurasian continent. There are prospects for the Russian Federation’s broader integration into the world economy and for expanded cooperation with international economic and financial institutions. The commonality of interests of Russia and other states is objectively preserved in many international security problems, including opposing the proliferation of mass destruction weapons, settling and preventing regional conflicts, fighting international terrorism and the drug trade, and resolving acute ecological problems of a global nature, including providing for nuclear and radiation safety.

At the same time, a number of states are stepping up efforts to weaken Russia politically, economically, militarily and in other ways. Attempts to ignore Russia’s interests when solving major issues of international relations, including conflict situations, are capable of undermining international security and stability, and hinder the positive changes achieved in international relations. 

Terrorism is transnational in nature and poses a threat to world stability. This issue has been exacerbated sharply in many countries, including in the Russian Federation, and to fight it requires unification of efforts by the entire international community, increased effectiveness of existing ways of countering this threat, and also urgent action to neutralize it.


III. Threats to the Russian Federation’s National Security


A weakened scientific and technological potential, reduction in research in strategically–important areas of science and technology and departure abroad of specialists and intellectual property mean that Russia is faced with the threat of loss of its leading world positions, decay of its high–technology industries, increased dependence on foreign technology and the undermining of its ability to defend itself.

Adverse trends in the economy lie at the root of the separatist aspirations of a number of constituent parts of the Russian Federation. This leads to increased political instability and a weakening of Russia’s unified economic domain and its most important components–—industrial production, transportation links, and the finance, banking, credit and tax systems. Economic disintegration, social stratification and the dilution of spiritual values promote tension between regions and the center and pose a threat to the federal structure and the socioeconomic fabric of the Russian Federation. Ethno–egoism, ethnocentrism and chauvinism as manifested in the activity of a number of public formations, and also uncontrolled migration promote nationalism, political and religious extremism and ethno separatism, and create a breeding ground for conflicts.


Threats to the Russian Federation’s national security in the international sphere can be seen in attempts by other states to oppose a strengthening of Russia as one of the influential centers of a multipolar world, to hinder the exercise of its national interests and to weaken its position in Europe, the Middle East, Transcaucasus, Central Asia and the Asia–Pacific Region.

Terrorism represents a serious threat to the national security of the Russian Federation. International terrorism is waging an open campaign to destabilize Russia.

There is an increased threat to the national security of the Russian Federation in the information sphere. A serious danger arises from the desire of a number of countries to dominate the global information domain space and to expel Russia from the external and internal information market; from the development by a number of states of “information warfare” concepts that entail creation of ways of exerting a dangerous effect on other countries’ information systems, of disrupting information and telecommunications systems and data storage systems, and of gaining unauthorized access to them.

The level and scope of military threats are growing. Elevated to the rank of strategic doctrine, NATO’s transition to the practice of using military force outside its zone of responsibility and without UN Security Council sanction could destabilize the entire global strategic situation. The growing technical advantage of a number of leading powers and their enhanced ability to create new weapons and military equipment could provoke a new phase of the arms race and radically alter the forms and methods of warfare.

Foreign special services and the organizations they use are increasing their activity in the Russian Federation.

Adverse trends in the military sphere are being assisted by delays in reforming the military and the defense industry of the Russian Federation, by inadequate funding for defense and by a poor regulatory and legal framework. At the present time, this can be seen in the critically low level of operational and combat training in the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and of the other troops and militarized formations and agencies, and in the impermissible drop in equipment stocks of the troops with modern armaments and military and special hardware, and in the extreme acuteness of social problems; this leads to a weakening of the military security of the Russian Federation as a whole.


The threat of a deteriorating ecological situation in the country and depletion of natural resources depends directly on the state of the economy and society’s willingness to appreciate the global nature and importance of these issues. For Russia this threat is especially great because of the dominating position in industry of the fuel and energy sector, inadequate legislation for environmental protection, lack or limited use of energy–saving technologies, and low environmental awareness. There is a trend for Russia to be used as a place for reprocessing and burying environmentally dangerous materials and substances. Against this background the weakening of state supervision and inadequate legal and economic levers for averting and relieving emergencies are increasing the risk of man–made disasters in all sectors of the economy.

IV. Ensuring the National Security of the Russian Federation

The following are the principal tasks for ensuring the Russian Federation’s national security:

  • to promptly detect and identify external and internal threats to national security;
  • to take short– and long–term action to avert and remove internal and external threats;
  • to ensure the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Russian Federation and the security of its border lands;
  • to improve the economy and pursue an independent and socially–oriented economic policy;
  • to overcome the Russian Federation’s scientific and technological dependence on external sources;
  • to ensure citizens’ personal security and constitutional rights and freedoms in Russia;
  • to improve the system of state power in the Russian Federation, the system of federal relations and local self–government and legislation; to create harmonious relations between communities, and to strengthen law and order and preserve socio–political stability in society;
  • to ensure unwavering compliance with Russian Federation legislation by all citizens and officials, state bodies, political parties and public and religious organizations;
  • to ensure Russia’s cooperation, especially with the world’s leading countries, on equal and mutually advantageous terms;
  • to increase the state’s military potential and maintain it at a sufficient level;
  • to strengthen the regime of nonproliferation of mass destruction weapons and their delivery vehicles;
  • to take effective action to identify, avert and intercept intelligence and subversive activities by foreign states against the Russian Federation;
  • to fundamentally improve the country’s ecological situation.


Using the framework of international agreements, there must be effective collaboration with foreign states and their law–enforcement and special agencies, and also with international organizations tasked with fighting terrorism. Broad use must be made of international experience of dealing with this phenomenon and there must be a well–coordinated mechanism for countering international terrorism, closing all available routes for illicit weapons and explosives within the country and preventing their import from abroad. The federal state authorities should pursue within the country persons involved in terrorism irrespective of where acts of terrorism damaging to the Russian Federation were conceived or carried out.

Assurance of the Russian Federation’s national security also includes protecting the cultural and spiritual–moral legacy and the historical traditions and standards of public life, and preserving the cultural heritage of all Russia’s peoples. There must be a state policy to maintain the population’s spiritual and moral welfare, prohibit the use of airtime to promote violence or base instincts, and counter the adverse impact of foreign religious organizations and missionaries.

A spiritual renewal of society is impossible without preserving the role of the Russian language as a factor of spiritual unity of the people of a multinational Russia and as the language of intercourse among CIS member states.


The foreign policy of the Russian Federation should be designed to:

  • pursue an active foreign–policy course;
  • strengthen key mechanisms, above all of the UN Security Council, for multilateral management of world political and economic processes;
  • ensure favorable conditions for the country’s economic and social development and for global and regional stability;
  • protect the lawful rights and interests of Russian citizens abroad, through the use of political, economic and other measures;
  • develop relations with CIS member states in accordance with principles of international law, and developing integrative processes within the framework of the CIS that meet Russia’s interests;
  • ensure Russia’s full–fledged involvement in global and regional economic and political structures;
  • assist in settling conflicts, including peacemaking activities under UN, OSCE and CIS aegis;
  • achieve progress in nuclear arms control and maintain strategic stability in the world through states’ compliance with their international obligations in this respect;
  • fulfill mutual obligations to reduce and eliminate weapons of mass destruction and conventional arms, carrying out confidence– and stability–building measures, ensure international oversight of the export of goods and technologies and over the provision of military and dual–purpose services;
  • adapt existing arms–control and disarmament agreements in line with the new climate in international relations, and also develop when necessary new agreements especially for enhancing confidence– and security–building measures;
  • assist in establishing zones free of weapons of mass destruction;
  • develop international cooperation in the fight against transnational crime and terrorism.


The following are crucial tasks for ensuring the Russian Federation’s information security:

  • exercise of citizens’ constitutional rights and freedoms in the sphere of information;
  • improvement and protection of the domestic information infrastructure and integration of Russia into the world information domain;
  • countering the threat of opposition in the information sphere.

The use of intelligence and counterintelligence resources for the timely discovery of threats and identification of their sources is of particular importance when ensuring the national security of the Russian Federation. 

About the Author

Dr. Alexei G. Arbatov has been a member of the Russian State Duma (Parliament) since 1994. He is deputy chair of the Duma Defense Committee, where he is responsible for the defense budget and processing of arms control treaties. He also serves as Director of the Center for Political and Military Forecasts at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO) of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

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