Staunton, January 19 – Vladimir Putin has issued a new directive updating Russia’s border policies as outlined in 1996 because, as the FSB notes, of “the appearance of new threats to the national security of the Russian Federation” and “the growing possibilities of the state for their liquidation” (fsb.ru/fsb/npd/pva/more.htm%21id%3D10438241%40fsbNpa.html).
Specifically, the FSB’s explanatory materials note “the pretensions of ‘a number of foreign states’” and efforts to introduce “terrorists and extremists” onto Russian territory, as well as “hotbeds of social-political and military tensions and the risks connected with these of incidents at the border.”
The FSB further notes that such destabilization just over the borders of the Russian Federation can, if not countered effectively, spread into the country, something especially likely because of “the low density of settlement, levels of socio-economic development and transportation isolation” of border regions.
The intelligence service also points to the dangers of “trans-border crime, the criminalization of the population as the result of illegal migration, and contraband, including arms, explosive substances and narcotics, all things that the Russian government must block before they spread into the heartland of the country.
In an analysis of this new decree, the most fundamental change in state policy since 1996 and one that amounts to the restoration of “an Iron Curtain” around Russia, Andrey Polunin of the Svobodnaya pressa points to one change that may matter more than any of the others (svpressa.ru/war21/article/190850/).
In contrast to the earlier decree which specified that the borders of the Russian Federation followed those of “the administrative territorial division of the USSR,” the new one drops that language and says instead that Moscow will pursue “a differentiated approach” to borders depending on their relationship with the Russian Federation.
Mikhail Aleksandrov, a specialist at MGIMO’s Center for Military-Political Research, tells Polunin that officials have been working on this reform for a long time and that “a number of experts have called for toughing the border regime and in particular introducing a visa regime with the countries of Central Asia and the Trans-Caucasus.”
At the same time, he says, the deterioration of relations with Ukraine has shown that people can arrive from there “who are capable of presenting a threat to the national security of Russia.” But there are also problems in the North, the West, and elsewhere around the periphery of the country.
Taken together, Aleksandrov continues, these trends should that Moscow must “toughen its border policy.” And the decision to do so now is “correct.” According to him, the biggest threat comes from the countries of Central Asia and the Trans-Caucasus because flows of people from there can include terrorists.
Indeed, the MGIMO expert says, “the problem is that the US practically openly has come out on the side of international terrorist organizations” like ISIS and is prepared to use people to destabilize the countries to the south and east of Russia in order ultimately to shake Russia to its foundations.
Russia needs tighter border controls to prevent that from happening, Aleksandrov argues. Moscow’s control of the borders in recent years had “weakened, but the time has come to impose order on the borders of the country.”
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