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Colonel General Valerii Mironov, a former deputy defense minister and now the principal military advisor to Russia's premier, recently stated that the "Cold War still goes on and only one definite period of it is over." To be sure, the general did not anticipate any significant military buildup "for at least ten years," that is, until the Russian economy improves, and indicated that no long-range concept had yet been set forth defining potential threats over the next fifteen years.(1)
It would also seem that the cold war continues in the minds of Russia's politicians. However, advisors to these civilian policymakers have proposed (as Mironov assuredly knows) a long-range national security concept, offering it for adoption as part of a new Russian military doctrine. For the West, this proposal suggests close monitoring of certain developments in Russia that may evolve into a qualitatively different and much more dangerous threat than that posed by the Russian military doctrine announced almost three years ago.
The Current Doctrine
That doctrine, signed by President Boris Yeltsin on November 2, 1993, and released to the press in summary form two weeks later, has been described as a transitional document. It proclaims that the "Russian Federation . . . does not regard any state as an enemy." However, the doctrine then proceeds to list ten potential sources of danger, such as local wars, especially those close to Russian borders; discrimination against Russian citizens living abroad; and expansion of military alliances to the detriment of Russia's security.(2) Under the heading "Basic Principles in the Field of Security," the 1993 military doctrine mentions maintenance of stability in regions directly bordering on the Russian Federation as well as in the former Soviet satellites. In effect, then, the document asserts a sphere of influence that coincides with the one maintained by the USSR.
To carry out this doctrine, Russia's new armed forces were assigned the following priority tasks through the end of this century:
establish mobile forces to conduct operations in any region where a threat may arise;
provide security for other members of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), possibly by deploying Russian troops on their territories; and
station troops outside of Russia, either together with units of another state or as exclusively Russian formations at their own separate bases.
The second and third of these priorities have been actively pursued by Moscow on the basis of bilateral agreements within the CIS. The first has apparently been abandoned, perhaps because Yeltsin fears that the elite airborne forces needed for such a task might support a coup d'etat, led by some charismatic former paratrooper like Lieutenant General Aleksandr Lebed. At any rate, beginning in February 1996, the Ministry of Defense ordered four of the eight independent airborne brigades transferred to the ground forces (one each to the North Caucasus, Siberian, Transbaikal, and Far East military districts), and two of the five airborne divisions (at Pskov and Novorossiisk) were subordinated for special joint operations to the ground forces in the Northern and North Caucasus military districts, in which they are already located.(3) The remaining three air assault divisions became part of the strategic reserve. This breakup signifies indefinite postponement of the plan to establish mobile forces. In addition to fear of a coup, shortage of airlift capacity, budgetary restrictions, and developments in Chechnya undoubtedly contributed to the decision.
Apart from discussing the three priority tasks listed above, the 1993 doctrine devoted a section to military-technical support for the armed forces, including implementation of a long-range (ten-to-fifteen-year) program to develop new weapons and other military hardware, as well as to procure more and more advanced systems for the military.
None of the foregoing had been unexpected in the West, and much in the doctrine consisted of merely declaratory statements for Western consumption, like the proposition that "Russia has no enemies." Nevertheless, the document gave the generals exactly what they wanted: a definition of domestic missions for the army, a statement on Russia's responsibilities in the "near abroad," and repudiation of the "no first use" principle regarding nuclear weapons. This last policy had been enunciated in 1982. The reversal in 1993 envisaged first use of such tactical or strategic warheads against other nuclear powers, their allies, and states not party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
A New National Security Concept?
Thus, the 1993 military doctrine contained worrisome elements. However, the ideas now being developed, if adopted, would represent a far more dangerous threat.
A recent study, reportedly commissioned by the Ministry of Defense, may provide some insight regarding the basis for a new military doctrine to be adopted in the not too distant future. Since the latter, if and when formulated, may not be released to the public, one must take seriously the opportunity to look into the security thinking provided by this study, entitled "Conceptual Theses for a Strategy Countering Principal External Threats to the National Security of the Russian Federation." (See Sidebars 1 and 2.)
The document was produced at the Institute for Defense Studies (Institut oboronnykh issledovanii - INOBIS), located about twenty miles northeast of Moscow. Among the founders of the institute were prominent members of three powerful organizations in the former USSR: Nikolai A. Shain, chief of the KGB's Main Economic Counter-Intelligence Directorate; Iurii D. Masliukov, chairman of the State Economic Planning Commission; and Vitalii Kh. Doguzhiev, the Soviet Union's deputy prime minister in charge of missiles and space-related issues.(4) Names of other founders and financial backers have not been released.
The INOBIS report begins with a discussion of threats to national security, in descending …