Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 149

Russian President Boris Yeltsin has reportedly signed a long-awaited document that identifies the main threats to Russia’s security and sets out the development of the country’s various military and security forces through the year 2005. Russian Security Council Secretary Andrei Kokoshin, who was clearly instrumental in the drafting of the new document, announced yesterday that the Russian president had signed the defense blueprint–called the “Fundamentals (concept) of Russian Federation State Policy for Military Development until the year 2005”–on August 1.

Although details of the new document were not immediately available, several of its key concepts were spelled out by Kokoshin. At the center of the new document, the Security Council secretary said, is the assertion that Russia–as a nuclear power–is unlikely to face a large-scale war. Instead, the main dangers to Russia’s security are identified by the document as small-scale conflicts along the country’s perimeter and instability within Russia itself. The defense concept reportedly defines responsibilities for each of those eventualities more precisely: the Defense Ministry and General Staff are to oversee operations along Russia’s perimeter; the Internal Affairs Ministry will handle domestic conflicts.

The concept appears to stipulate a reduced role for–and a reduced military component within–Russia’s Internal Affairs Ministry (MVD) and the country’s Federal Border Guard Service. The MVD will retain military forces, including some armored units, Kokoshin said. But the MVD’s troops are ultimately to be reorganized as a Federal Guard and will give up their current function of guarding communications facilities and convoys. They are also to be reorganized administratively. The current MVD district system will be abolished and will be replaced by one comprised of military-administrative zones. Recruitment for the reformed federal guard will be conducted exclusively on a contract basis. Russia’s Federal Border Guard Service, meanwhile, faces what Kokoshin said is a “gradual transition to mainly nonmilitary forms of service and an appropriate reduction in the… [service’s] military component.”

The regular armed forces also face an administrative reorganization. Kokoshin said that the current system of military districts is to be replaced by an integrated system of six military-administrative zones. In addition, the defense concept calls for the maintenance of ten full-strength and high-readiness Ground Forces divisions, one of which is to be trained in peacekeeping operations. Kokoshin suggested that the Russian General Staff may see its role enhanced in defense-related matters.

Kokoshin also suggested that the reform of Russia’s armed forces envisioned in the new defense concept, with its emphasis on small-scale conflicts and close coordination of efforts among Russia’s various defense and security structures, was influenced heavily by analysis of the country’s earlier military debacle in Chechnya. He said that military exercises conducted last week by Russian army, MVD and other security forces in Stavropol Krai, Dagestan and North Ossetia reflected the concepts spelled out in the new defense document. (Russian agencies, Russian television, August 3) In those exercises, the MVD was given command over participating forces from Russia’s other military and security agencies. (See Monitor, July 29)