At the end of August President Dmitry Medvedev announced five foreign policy priorities. The first and third points are benign: Russia will “recognize the fundamental principles of international law” and “does not want confrontation with any other country” nor does it intend to isolate itself. The other three state, first, that Russia does not accept the current world order, which Medvedev calls “single-pole,” as it is “unstable and threatened by conflict.” Medvedev declared, “The world must be multi-polar.” Second, Russia claimed the right as an “unquestionable priority” to “protect the lives and dignity of our citizens” as well as its interests “wherever they may be.” Finally, Medvedev claimed, “there are regions in which Russia has privileged interests,” an apparent reference to a geographically unspecified sphere of interests, that obviously includes Georgia, Ukraine, and other neighboring nations in Europe and Asia (www.kremlin.ru, August 31).
In accordance with Russian bureaucratic tradition, Medvedev’s statement is in effect the country’s foreign policy doctrine short and clear. Medvedev added that the future of international relations depended on “our friends and partners” that “have a choice” to recognize Russia’s rights and privileges. In August Russian troops invaded neighboring Georgia and occupied part of its territory. Russian military action in Georgia followed Medvedev’s foreign policy doctrine: It was aimed against U.S. dominance in the Caucasus, it was an action within Russia’s “region of privileged interests,” and it was claimed to have been undertaken in defense of Russian citizens and interests.
Last week Medvedev proceeded by announcing a short and clear defense doctrine in line with the foreign policy one. The defense doctrine also came in five principles. First, the organizational structure and deployment of troops would be enhanced. All combat units had to achieve “permanent readiness status” by 2020. Second, the efficiency of command and control systems in the Armed Forces would be improved. Without this, “it is impossible to count on success in today’s wars and other armed conflicts.” Third, the system of military education and personnel training would be modernized. Fourth, procuring the most modern weapons was a “high priority.” Russia needed “fundamentally new, high-technology weapons.” Fifth, military pay would increase, housing would improve, and the social problems of the Armed forces would be addressed.
Medvedev stressed that “These five factors will determine the battle-readiness of our Armed Forces. By 2020 we must guarantee the continued capacity of nuclear deterrence in various military and political situations, while rearming the troops with new types of weapons and means of gathering intelligence.” Medvedev said, “We must achieve air superiority in conducting precision strikes on land and sea targets, as well as in troop mobility.” First of all new warships armed with nuclear cruise missiles would be built, as well as attack submarines. A joint air-space defense system would also be built, he announced (www.kremlin.ru, September 26).
Medvedev presented his military doctrine to a gathering of army top brass at the Donguz military base in the Orenburg region on the border with Kazakhstan during strategic military exercise “Stability-2008” (see EDM, September 25). It was announced in Donguz that Stability-2008 was the largest military exercise in 20 years since the end of the Cold War. Maneuvers of units on land, sea, and in the air, both in Russia and on the high seas, began on September 1, will last over 2 months, and involve some 50,000 solders (RIA-Novosti, September 26). The scenario of Stability-2008 is of a local conflict escalating into an all-out air, sea, and land war between Russia and the West that in turn escalates into a global nuclear conflict with the United States. Recalling the war with Georgia, Medvedev stressed, “We have seen that an absolutely real war can erupt suddenly; and simmering local conflicts, which are sometimes even called ‘frozen,’ can turn into a real military firestorm” (www.kremlin.ru, September 26).
It is clear today that Russian military staffs on orders from the Kremlin preplanned the invasion of Georgia in August under the cover of military exercises Kavkaz-2008. In addition, massive strategic reinforcements were mobilized for a possible escalation of hostilities in case Washington offered Tbilisi assistance and became directly involved in the fray. It seems that in August-September 2008 we were, as during the Cold War, once again close to a possible armed conflict. Today the massive Russian military potential, mobilized for possible all-out war that did not happen, is being used in the Stability-2008 exercises.
This week Medvedev told top military commanders in the Kremlin that outside hostile forces “will not forgive” Russia’s actions against Georgia, “but we must not be distressed; this was expected.” Medvedev believes, “Russia must be big and strong, or it will not exist at all” and greedy foreigners will grab its riches. “The old world order was shattered in August,” Medvedev told his military chiefs. “A new one is emerging more secure and just,” based on Russian actions in Georgia (www.kremlin.ru, September 30). The new brave world has arrived, according to the Kremlin. Russia needs new nukes and air superiority to survive “big and strong.”