Last September the Moscow daily Gazeta printed extracts of a purported new Russian military doctrine, allegedly prepared in secret by a group of experts in the Defense Ministry and leaked by an undisclosed official source. The main feature of the new doctrine, as published by Gazeta, was a declaration that Russia has three main enemies: the United States, NATO, and international terrorism. The newspaper reported that then-Defense Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov would put the final touches on the text and report it to the Cabinet for approval before October 1, 2006 (Gazeta, September 19).
The Defense Ministry did not rebut the newspaper article, but no official draft of a new doctrine has surfaced. However, in January a special meeting of Russia’s Academy of Military Sciences indeed discussed a new military doctrine (see EDM, February 7). Top military chiefs attended the meeting and presented keynote speeches about the need for a new doctrine (Nezavisimoe voennoe obozrenie, February 3). For a moment, it seemed a new draft text of a doctrine might soon be revealed before long and adopted.
Last month, during a Q & A session after a keynote speech in the State Duma, Ivanov told deputies something very different: “Our Military Doctrine exists and it is fairly new. It was adopted in 2001 when I was completing my work as secretary of the Security Council and was going into civilian service at the Defense Ministry. It contains some fundamental things, including terrorism, the threat of the spread of WMD and internal conflicts. It is all there in the doctrine. I do not say that it is eternal, of course. Perhaps a new national security doctrine should be adopted. But if there is indeed a need for it, it should be passed first and then a military doctrine should be tailored to it. Because you cannot put the cart before the horse. I do not rule out that in several years time we will need, if not a radically new military doctrine because the main things are already in the 2001 doctrine and the world has not changed all that much since then” (www.fednews.ru, February 7).
Ivanov is right that he was moved from the Security Council to become Defense Minister in 2001, but the current military doctrine was adopted a year before — in 2000. Perhaps, as defense minister, Ivanov did not use the military doctrine frequently and forgot its year of issue? In any case, he does not consider it must be urgently in need of rewriting.
After Ivanov’s speech to the Duma, Russian President Vladimir Putin promoted Ivanov from defense minister to first deputy prime minister, and he is now considered a strong contender to succeed Putin in 2008. Now led by Anatoly Serdyukov, the Defense Ministry has, for the time being, stopped its campaign for a new doctrine.
However, the Security Council has announced that it will prepare “together with other state departments” a new military doctrine (Itar-Tass, March 5). “Since the present military doctrine was adopted, the geopolitical, military, and security situation of Russia has changed substantially.” NATO is expanding, further making a new doctrine necessary.
The present secretary of the Security Council is former foreign minister Igor Ivanov, who entered the cabinet under President Boris Yeltsin in the 1990s. Unlike Sergei Ivanov, he is not part of the ruling clan of Putin’s buddies from St. Petersburg.
The Security Council has no mandate to spearhead a new military doctrine, which is primarily the responsibility of the Defense Ministry and the General Staff of the Armed Forces. The Russian military doctrines adopted in 1993 and 2000 were both prepared by the military. The Security Council’s writ is to lead the drafting of the national security concept (or doctrine) that, according to Sergei Ivanov’s statement in the Duma, must precede a new military doctrine.
In 2004 Igor Ivanov announced that the Security Council has prepared the text of a new National Security Concept “to meet the 21st-century challenges” (see EDM, February 7). However, Putin never signed that draft into law. Now, with Sergei Ivanov promoted out of the Defense Ministry, Igor Ivanov is apparently attempting to advance his own standing in the Kremlin by taking a lead in writing a new military doctrine ahead of the security, while undermining Sergei Ivanov at the same time. However, Igor Ivanov will likely get his fingers burned once again.
This Russian-style bureaucratic fracas is unlikely to produce any interdepartmentally agreed text of any military or security doctrine any time soon, particularly with Duma and presidential elections due in less that a year.
At the same time, the start-and-stop again discussions about the military doctrine have resulted in some public debate in an area that has been traditionally out of public reach in Russia. Human rights activist Andrei Kalikh recently published an article in Nezavisimoe voennoe obozrenie (March 16) pointing out an important quote from the speech Chief of the General Staff General Yuri Baluyevsky made at the January conference: “The example of color revolutions in Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan prove that external threats are realized using nonmilitary political, diplomatic, economic, and information means, by subversion and interference in internal affairs of nations.” Baluyevsky called for the inclusion of adequate responses to such “nonmilitary threats” in any new military doctrine.
Russia’s top military chief is clearly calling for an amendment of the military doctrine to legalize the use of military force to suppress possible civil unrest and political opposition to the regime. It may be a good thing Russia’s top brass and ruling bureaucrats are currently too distracted by bureaucratic infighting to rewrite the doctrine.