Staunton, July 5 – Russia’s new National Security Doctrine, in the course of a laundry list of policy declarations (sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/legal/2021/07/d44503/), codifies some key changes the Kremlin has made in its approach to the Russian people, Moscow’s allies, and the rest of the world since its previous doctrines of 2009 and 2015.
There will be many commentaries in the coming days seeking to elucidate the meanings of this document, but below are some immediate judgments and also an intriguing speculation that the national security strategy this time around may become the core of a new Putinist ideology for Russia.
With respect to the Russian people, the document makes two clear departures from its predecessors. On the one hand, it devotes considerable attention to domestic threats to the traditional spiritual and moral values of the population (sova-center.ru/racism-xenophobia/news/legal/2021/07/d44503/).
And on the other, it drops any reference to a commitment by the powers that be to improving the lives of the vast majority of Russians although it does pledge to protect the wealth that those at the top have accumulated (http://apn-spb.ru/opinions/article33645.htm and newizv.ru/article/general/05-07-2021/bednost-v-prioritete-eksperty-otsenili-strategiyu-natsionalnoy-bezopasnosti).
With respect to Russian cooperation with other countries, the new document specifies that for Moscow, the era of big alliances is over and that Russia will pursue its own course as a major power and meeting its domestic needs with much less concern for positions of its putative allies (thinktanks.by/publication/2021/07/05/moskva-peresmatrivaet-obyazatelstva-pered-svoimi-satellitami.html).
And with respect to its opponents, the document simultaneous suggests that Moscow is not focused on recovering superpower status but is animated by a sense that it is under threat and must mobilize the entire country for a looming military conflict with the West (rosbalt.ru/posts/2021/07/05/1909899.html, novayagazeta.ru/articles/2021/07/03/put-izgoia and finanz.ru/novosti/aktsii/putin-poruchil-gotovit-ekonomiku-k-voyne-1030579375).
How these postulates will be translated into action remains to be seen. Past strategies have not been a perfect predictor of what Moscow has chosen to do; and this one won’t be either. But one suggestion, by Poliltobzor security analyst Sergey Marzhetsky, could be and is worth taking especially seriously.
He suggests that the national security document is “an already practically formed state ideology” and thus is likely to be used as the basis for propaganda efforts to unite the Russian people around a common set of beliefs (politobzor.net/235701-novaja-strategija-nacbezopasnosti-vozvraschenie-k-gosudarstvennoj-ideologii.html).