Here is an extended version of my MT op-ed on Russia's new military doctrine, followed by comparison of the 2014 and 2010 doctrines' language:
It is indisputable that the Ukraine crisis has dealt a serious blow to Russia’s relations with core members of NATO. It would take many years for Moscow, Washington and Brussels to fully mend the fences even if the conflict in Ukraine were resolved tomorrow.
But as Russia’s new military doctrine indicate, the Rubicon in Russian-NATO relations has not been crossed. At least, not yet. While naming Russia’s allies, the doctrine, which was published on Dec. 26, avoids designating either NATO as a whole or any of its specific members of that alliance as adversaries.
The new document does place NATO first in the list of external military dangers to Russia. But as I noted in my initial analysis of the 2014 document in my blog, that's not qualitatively different from the 2010 doctrine. The latter designated NATO as top source of military threats to Russia even though it was adopted at the time the U.S.-Russian reset was in full swing.
Moreover, the new document even calls for a dialogue of equals between NATO and Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) in the sphere of European security and for cooperation in the sphere of missile defense. It also notes that the probability of a large-scale war against Russia has been decreasing.
Importantly, the 2014 doctrine leaves condition for the use of nuclear weapons unchanged compared to the 2010 document. The latter became the first post-Soviet unclassified strategic document to somewhat constrain first use of nuclear weapons by Russian armed forces. Like its predecessor, the new doctrine allows the first use of nuclear weapons if Russia or its allies are attacked with use of weapons of mass destruction or if a conventional conflict threatens “the very existence” of the Russian state.
The new doctrine also preserves its predecessor’s provisions for countering proliferation of WMD. The doctrine’s innovations include references to the threat of radiological terrorism and notion of nonnuclear strategic deterrence.
Other innovations includes classification of the following challenges as main external military dangers to Russia: use of military information and communications technologies for military-political objectives to carry out actions directed against the sovereignty, political independence, and territorial integrity of states; establishment of regimes in neighboring states, and subversive activities of special services and organizations of foreign states and their coalitions against Russia.
These references clearly stem from Russia’s experiences and perceptions acquired in the course of the color revolutions in neighboring post-Soviet states, including most recently, Ukraine. The new doctrine also introduces a section on allied relations with South Ossetia and Abkhazia while also preserving its predecessor’s language on such relations with Belarus in particular and CSTO members in general.
Prior to the publication of the 2014 doctrine, both Russian and Western press were awash with speculations that the new doctrine would identify NATO as Russia’s foe. Such speculations were not unfounded.
The Financial Times quoted people familiar with the draft of this strategic document as saying in November that the latter would openly designate the U.S. and NATO as adversaries in the wake of the standoff in Ukraine. The new Ukrainian authorities’ decision to restart the drive for their country’s NATO membership had also fueled speculation that Russia's new doctrine would designate the alliance as an adversary.
You may also recall reports in the Western media last year that the U.S. government reportedly wanted an updated NATO doctrine that would identify Russia as a revitalized and fundamental danger. Moreover, NATO's then-General Secretary Anders Fogh Rasmussen and his deputy Alexander Vershbow had argued prior to NATO’s September 2014 summit that the alliance should treat Russia as adversary because Russia considers this Western bloc as an adversary and acts accordingly, though I begged to differ at that time.
The summit came and went, but NATO members decided not to publicly name Russia as a foe. Moreover, Rasmussen's successor at the helm of this organization is no longer calling for Russia to be branded a foe of the alliance. Jens Stoltenberg told Russian reporters last month that “NATO is not an enemy of Russia. On the contrary.” The new general secretary also stated in the wake of the terrorist attack in Paris, which French authorities have blamed on Islamists, that Russia “should be an ally in the fight against terrorism.”
The language has become conciliatory on the Russian side too, at least when it comes to diplomats. NATO is not an enemy for Russia, according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. And the Russia-NATO relations have not reached the "point of no return,” according to Lavrov's Deputy Foreign Minister Alexei Meshkov.
Hopefully, these statements reflect serious intent on both sides to avoid a slide into a new Cold War, even though some thoughtful experts both in the West and Russia believe such a war has become unavoidable, and there should be no doubt that NATO and Russian generals have been lately busy updating operational war plans against each other.
Were the crisis in Ukraine to prompt Russia and NATO to officially call each other foes in their strategic documents, it would have become hard for leaders of both sides to argue for reversal of this designation. Such a reversal would require qualitative improvement in the Russian-Western relationship, which is unlikely in the near future.
Russia and core founding members of NATO share too many vital interests in such spheres, as counter-terrorism and non-proliferation, including preventing non-state actors from acquiring nuclear weapons, to afford a relapse of the adversarial relationship they abandoned more than quarter a century ago. As NATO’s Stoltenberg has noted in the wake of the terrorist attacks staged by Islamists in Paris: “it is important that Russia and NATO are able to work together on important issues, like for instance, fighting terror.” Russia “should be an ally in the fight against terrorism,” Stoltenberg was quoted by Bloomberg as saying.
It is about time that former Cold War foes start collecting the peace dividends, which Russia might find especially handy, given its current economic woes. The best predictor for the latter is a decline in price of oil, but if Russia and U.S., acting together with European Union, could convince the government in Kiev and separatists in Eastern Ukraine to reach a lasting resolution of their conflict, then many of the most damaging of Western sanctions against Russia would be lifted. That would certainly ease Russia's economic pains.
The first step toward normalizing the relationship would be the resolution of the conflict in Ukraine, as I have argued in a piece that I co-authored with Dr. Gary Samore from Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs this fall.
Such a solution could incorporate decentralization of power within Ukraine and robust protection of rights of minorities, along with disarming of all the illegal armed formations, a legally binding affirmation of Ukraine’s military neutrality, and unequivocal guarantees (rather than assurances) of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, perhaps, while deferring final resolution of Crimea’s status.
One of the subsequent moves should include rebuilding of the collective security architecture in post Cold War Europe, which has failed time and over again, as demonstrated not only by the crisis in Ukraine, but the 2008 war and the conflicts in former Yugoslavia. Germany’s recent decision to involve Russia in talks that former German ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger would lead to suggest ways of t reforming pan-European security structure is a right step in that direction.
The longer the sides remain locked in the conflict, the more likely it will be that the temporary measures, which Russia and Western countries have imposed upon each other to punish each other over the Ukraine conflict, will become permanent and that the sides will slide into a new Cold War.
As the saying goes “Nothing is more permanent than the temporary,” be it naming of foes adversaries or imposition of sanctions. If you have doubts about the lasting nature of 'temporary' punishment, then you should have asked U.S. Senators Henry M. "Scoop" Jackson of Washington and Charles Vanik — co-sponsors of a 1974 amendment that limited trade with the Soviet Union — while they were still alive.
. Comparison of the 2014 and 2010 Doctrines.
|2014 Doctrine||2010 Doctrine|
| The main external military dangers are:
||The main external military dangers are:
|The main military threats are:
||The main military threats are:
|The main tasks in deterring and preventing military conflicts are:
||The main tasks in deterring and preventing military conflicts are:
|Russia shall consider an armed attack on a member state of the Union State or any actions with use of military force against it as an act of aggression against the Union State and it shall take retaliatory measures. Essentially same as before||Russia regards an armed attack on a Union State member or any actions involving the utilization of military force against it as an act of aggression against the Union State and will carry out retaliatory measures|
|The use of precision weapons shall be considered within the framework of Russia's fulfilment of forceful measures of strategic deterrence. Same as before.||In the context of the implementation by Russia of strategic deterrence measures of a forceful nature, provision is made for the utilization of precision weapons.|
|Russia shall reserve for itself the right to employ nuclear weapons in response to the use against it and/or its allies of nuclear and other kinds of weapons of mass destruction, as well as in the case of aggression against Russia with use of conventional weapons when the state's very existence has been threatened. Same as before, which is good as the 2010 document constrained use of nukes somewhat, but bear in mind that actual use of nukes was regulated by the classified provisions adopted as supplement to the 2010 document||Russia reserves right to employ nuclear weapons in response to the utilization of nuclear and other types of weapons of mass destruction against it and (or) its allies, and also in the event of aggression against Russia involving the use of conventional weapons when the very existence of the state is under threat.|
|The main missions of the Armed Forces, other troops, and entities in peacetime:
||The main missions of the Armed Forces and other troops in peacetime are:
|The tasks of military-political cooperation are:
||The tasks of military-political cooperation are:
|Priorities of military-political cooperation are:
||Priorities of military-political cooperation are: