Moscow: Russia views the United States and NATO as major threats to global security and potentially to its own military, according to a sweeping new security document unveiled by the Kremlin on Wednesday.
The document, outlining Russia’s national security strategy through 2020, reflected continuing fears of old Cold War foes but also said Moscow would pursue a “rational and pragmatic” foreign policy and avoid a new arms race.
The 13-page document was posted on the Kremlin website on Wednesday, one day after being approved by President Dmitry Medvedev and following months of discussion among Russia’s top security officials.
“The instability of the existing global and regional architecture, oriented, especially in the Euro-Atlantic region, only toward NATO… is an increasing threat to the guaranteeing of international security,” it said.
The document stressed the “unacceptability” of NATO expansion to include countries bordering Russia, an apparent reference to Ukraine and Georgia, former Soviet republics which have sought to join the alliance.
It also criticised a US plan to deploy elements of a global missile shield in Eastern Europe, which has infuriated Russia.
“The opportunity to uphold global and regional security will substantially narrow if elements of the US worldwide missile defence system are deployed in Europe,” the document said.
The security strategy did not name the United States in a list of direct military threats to Russia, but the list left little doubt that Moscow’s generals were preoccupied with US military might.
“The threats to military security are: the policies of an array of leading foreign countries aimed at achieving overwhelming supremacy in the military sphere, above all in strategic nuclear forces,” the document said.
It also described “the unilateral formation of global missile defence” as a military threat, in an apparent reference to the US missile shield.
Washington denies that its plan to deploy anti-missile facilities in Poland and the Czech Republic are directed against Russia, insisting that they are meant to protect against “rogue states” like Iran.
The new security strategy said Moscow would seek “the most cost-effective level for retaining parity with the United States in the field of strategic attack weapons.”
At the same time, Moscow will seek to avoid a Cold War-style arms race, the document said.
“Russia… will pursue a rational and pragmatic foreign policy, refraining from costly confrontation, including a new arms race,” it said.
Relations between Moscow and Washington were deeply strained last year amid bitter disputes over the Russia-Georgia war and US missile defence, but ties have warmed somewhat since the inauguration of President Barack Obama.
The wide-ranging document also listed terrorism and nuclear proliferation as potential dangers to Russia, as well as a range of non-military threats like AIDS, alcoholism and the impact of the global economic crisis.
It called for raising Russians’ standard of living and diversifying the country’s economy away from oil and gas.
“The preservation of a natural resources-export model of development” was one of the “main strategic risks and threats to national security in the economic sphere,” the document said.
The criticisms of NATO and the United States in the new strategy are largely a rehash of Moscow’s previous positions, said Fyodor Lukyanov, editor of the journal Russia in Global Affairs.
But the emphasis on economic factors reflects a shift in thinking from the traditional military-dominated approach, he told AFP.
“In my view, this is a significant shift toward a more modern understanding of national security — the awareness that socio-economic factors in society can have no less an effect than external factors,” Lukyanov said.