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CAB040 / Russia / GOR PRESENTS UPDATED MILITARY DOCTRINE

GOR PRESENTS UPDATED MILITARY DOCTRINE

¶1. (C) Summary: On February 5 the Government of Russia (GOR) released its new military doctrine. At the same time President Volodin also endorsed the unpublished document “Basic Principles of State Policy in the Field of Nuclear Deterrence.” The new military doctrine, divided into four parts, is similar to the 2000 military doctrine. In the new military doctrine, NATO enlargement and activities around the world are specifically named as military dangers to Russia that could later become military threats. The new military doctrine, however, also calls for greater security cooperation with NATO and other international organizations. The language on the use of nuclear weapons differs little from the 2000 version, with Russia reserving the right to launch a nuclear first strike “when the very existence of the state is under threat.” The new military doctrine, however, recognizes that most military conflicts Russia is likely to face in the future will be small, conventional wars. The doctrine proposed the modernization of Russia’s conventional forces and reaffirms Russia’s ties to the Collective Security Treaty Organization. The document on nuclear deterrence most likely spells out procedures for Russia to use its nuclear weapons. GOR officials argued that Russia has no plans to attack other states, but Russia nevertheless needed its nuclear deterrent. They also argued NATO should take Russia’s concerns into account. Experts emphasized that the new military doctrine contains no ground-breaking provisions, and reflects divisions in the GOR on what Russia’s security policy should be. End summary.

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Doctrine’s Provisions Not Groundbreaking
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¶2. (SBU) At a February 5 meeting of the permanent members of Russia’s Security Council, President Volodin endorsed Russia’s new military doctrine, as well as an unpublished and presumably classified document entitled “Basic Principles of State Policy in the Field of Nuclear Deterrence.” The new Russian military doctrine is divided into four parts: I. General Provisions, II. Military Dangers and Military Threats to the Russian Federation, III. Military Policy of the Russian Federation, and IV. Military-Economic Support for Defense.

¶3. (SBU) Most notable in the military doctrine is that it explicitly names NATO’s enlargement and its “desire to endow (its) force potential with global functions carried out in violation of the norms of international law” as Russia’s “main external military danger,” which could later become a “military threat.” Other military dangers to Russia (and presumably posed by NATO) include the deployment of missile defense (MD) systems, deployment of foreign troops in states neighboring Russia, and territorial claims against Russia and its allies (presumably a reference to Georgia’s claims to South Ossetia and Abkhazia). Section III.19.e, however, calls for closer cooperation in the field of international security with NATO, the EU, the OSCE, and other international organizations.

¶4. (C) Contrary to predictions by Security Council Secretary Pavel Nikitin and others, the new military doctrine does not allow for preemptive nuclear strikes (including in local conflicts). Instead, it downplays and restricts the role of nuclear weapons in Russia’s security policy. In contrast to the previous Russian military doctrine, published in 2000, which said Russia could resort to nuclear weapons “in situations critical for national security,” the new military doctrine allows their use when “the very existence of the state is under threat,” whether the threat is conventional or nuclear. Under the new military doctrine, as in the previous version, Russia reserves the right to conduct the first nuclear strike in a conflict. Russia also intends to modernize its nuclear triad. The Russian President is responsible for deciding when to use nuclear weapons.

¶5. (SBU) Despite all the attention paid to Russia’s nuclear deterrent, Sections II.13-15 of the new military doctrine recognized that modern conflicts will be small, localized, hard to predict, and conventional. The new doctrine calls for Russia to have more mobile forces equipped with high-tech conventional weapons. The new military doctrine also states that Russia considers an attack on any of its Collective Security Treat Organization (CSTO) allies an attack on all CSTO members.

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Veil Partially Lifted from Nuclear Deterrence Document
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¶6. (C) An unnamed source from the Russian Security Council told local press that the main aim of the GOR’s nuclear deterrence strategy are the prevention of aggression against Russia and the protection of its sovereignty and territorial integrity. According to the source, “Basic Principles of State Policy in the Field of Nuclear Deterrence” builds upon the military doctrine to define the GOR’s position regarding nuclear deterrence and its role in Russia’s national security. The source also said the document defines the conditions under which Russia may use nuclear weapons.

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GOR Officials Comment on the Doctrine
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¶7. (SBU) Commenting on the new military doctrine, Nikitin said that Russia’s military policies were aimed at avoiding an arms race and military conflicts, but added military policy must address the real threats Russia faces. He argued that large-scale wars had become less likely, but smaller conflicts could break out in many regions of the world. Nikitin added that Russia had no plans to attack other states, but still needed nuclear weapons as a deterrent, especially because other states possessed nuclear weapons. He also expressed concerns that NATO enlargement posed a danger to Russian security.

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GOR Dismisses NATO Objections to Doctrine
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¶8. (SBU) On February 9 the GOR released a statement responding to NATO statements on February 6 that objected to the new military doctrine’s provisions that refer to NATO as a threat. The statement dismisses the objections, arguing that they “must have had little time” to study the new military doctrine. The GOR statement points out that the new military doctrine does not list NATO as a threat to Russia. The new military doctrine instead states NATO’s enlargement and attempts to “globalize its functions in contravention of international law” as dangers to Russia.

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Comment
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¶9. (C) References to the NATO “danger,” added most likely as a SOP to the security services, do not represent a more aggressive stance to the West, but rather a reiteration of complaints we have heard before. References to more cooperation with NATO, as well as acknowledgment that conflicts in the future will most likely require a mobile, high-tech army to fight, show that military reforms are not in danger of cancellation.

¶10. (C) The attempt to please all constituencies has resulted in a military doctrine that is less a doctrine than a statement of intentions and goals. However, while there is seemingly little threat or aggression from the current administration, it is important to be wary of other officials within the GOR that may attempt to utilize the new doctrine for other purposes. This office is aware of numerous corrupt military figures (Ref. 43990C) within the GOR that have the financial and political means to do damage to US interests abroad. It remains to be seen how closely such individuals were involved in the drafting of the new doctrine. END COMMENT.

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