Staunton, December 8 – Vladimir Putin’s new national security doctrine is all about the security of the state and creating the illusion of “the rebirth of a superpower,” Vadim Shtepa says, thus reversing the principles of 2013 document it replaces which declared Moscow’s goals included “the creation of favorable external conditions” for growth at home and peace abroad.
The Karelian realist who was forced into exile in Estonia writes today on the Rufabula portal that “evidently, the events of the last three years have so changed the foreign policy views of the Russian authorities that this required the creation of a new doctrinal document (rufabula.com/articles/2016/12/08/the-illusion-of-rebirth).
The dramatic shift, one that reverses almost all of the provisions of the doctrine of 2013, is “the direct result of changes in Russian foreign policy during these years,” events that include the Anschluss of Crimea, the unleashing of war in eastern Ukraine, international sanctions, the collapse of the ruble because of declines in the price for oil, and reduced investment in Russia.
Not surprisingly, “the resolution of these problems the Kremlin does not see in ending its military expansion and restoration of economic ties with developed countries. On the contrary, one of the goals of the new foreign policy concept is “’the consolidation of the position of Russia as one of the influential centers of the contemporary world.’”
Russia’s own domestic economic problems “trouble the Russian powers that be much less than world geopolitics. [Indeed,] it is difficult not to recall that in the late Brezhnev years, the USSR also was much more concerned with the salvation of the Afghan regime than with reforms in its own country.” How that ended is “well known.”
Thus, in 2013, Moscow declared that Russia was “’inalienable part of Europe;’” but in the new document, that thesis is nowhere to be found and “the US is declared ‘a threat’ to Russian national security.” Further to block US plans, Moscow has committed itself to an information war against the West.
As Shtepa notes, many of the provisions of the new doctrine are either clearly duplicitous or a projection on to others of the crimes that it is committing on its own. To give but one example: the new doctrine says that Russia “’firmly opposes aggressive nationalism.’” But what then is Moscow’s promotion of the notion of “a Russian world” beyond Russia’s borders?
The only possible conclusion, he suggests, is that “the Kremlin powers that be mentally are still living in the USSR. However, in reality, the Russian Federation is far from being the USSR.” Its population is less than Nigeria’s or Bangladesh’s and its GDP per capital ranks 66th in the world. “True, measured by global ambitions, it remains in second place.”
Because it lacks an attractive model for others and because it lacks the resources to conduct a real competition with the Wes, “Russia is compensating by propagandistic efforts to crate for itself a virtual model of ‘a superpower’ as a media illusion.” But that effort is not irrelevant, Shtepa points out.
“In the contemporary information world,” such an approach “often turns out to be extremely effective. And it is still unclear, what alternative the new American administration will be able to offer.”