MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti military commentator Viktor Litovkin)

The Academy of Military Sciences will hold a conference in the Defense Ministry in Moscow on January 20. Its president, Army General Makhmut Gareyev, will deliver a report on Russia’s new military doctrine. Military leaders and academics will discuss the changes and amendments to this key document, which will be presented to the military community.

General Gareyev discusses the new doctrine in an interview with Viktor Litovkin.

Question: Why is Russia going to adopt a new military doctrine? What new features will it have? Why does it concern the Academy of Military Sciences, a public organization?

Answer: The creation of a new military doctrine has been prompted by considerable changes in the geopolitical and military-political situation, as well as in the nature of the threats to security that have emerged since the endorsement of the current doctrine in 2000. We have now specified the tasks facing the military and other defense forces. The government system, the social and economic standards, and the demographic situation have also changed.

Moreover, some provisions of the current doctrine have become obsolete. They do not reflect recent developments and do not help enhance national security. This is why we have to draw up and make into law new views on our national defense.

The military doctrine embodies the government’s views on ensuring the country’s security, resisting threats, and preventing wars and armed conflicts; it reflects official ideas on military development and on preparing the nation and its armed forces to defend the fatherland. The doctrine also deals with ways of conducting armed (and other) conflicts in the nation’s defense.

Russian President Vladimir Putin charged military leaders with the task of formulating a new military doctrine in June 2005. This task cannot be resolved without a new concept of national security. It would be helpful if the military community and authorities from the Academy of Military Sciences had their say on this question. In the 1920s, the whole nation and the army were discussing the military doctrine and the program of military reform suggested by Mikhail Frunze. Not only political and military leaders but also rank-and-file soldiers and citizens understood what the doctrine was all about.

I believe that the military doctrine, which is the government’s declaration of its defense policy, should be openly presented to the nation and the rest of the world. We are not going to hide anything or intrigue against anyone.

Q: What is the gist of the military doctrine?

A: We must analyze what threatens Russia’s security and what we should do to provide for an adequate defense. We should then define what military organization we need in order to neutralize and repel potential threats. We should define potential ways of using our armed forces and other troops, as well as the types of wars and armed conflicts that we could encounter today and up to the year 2015. This will determine the direction of military training and education. The main point is that we should know how to prepare the nation for defense, primarily in the economic, military-political, and moral arenas.

It is necessary to avoid excessive emphasis on politics and ideology, instead concentrating on practical efforts to build up defenses.

Ecological and energy factors will be the main causes of political and military conflicts in the next 10-15 years. Some states will try to control the energy resources of others, as happened in Iraq, while others will have no choice but to resist or die. Sooner or later, the world community will have to limit, regulate, and drastically change the scale and nature of production.

If the UN, other world organizations, the governments of leading countries, and major multinational corporations fail to regulate production and consumption, the survival of many nations may be in peril. Political, economic, or armed confrontation could occur as a result. The huge gap between the living standards of the “golden billion” and the rest of the world might lead to terrorism and a war of “everyone against everyone.” This is one of the potential threats to our security. Needless to say, poverty is not the only cause of terrorism. North Korea and Cuba are poor countries, but they have not produced terrorists. Those who attacked the U.S. in 2001 were far from being poor.

Nevertheless, the character of threats will largely depend upon the world’s future political structure. It is becoming increasingly obvious that even such a superpower as the United States cannot cope with its self-assumed burden of leadership and responsibility. Its Democratic Party is not the only domestic force that suggests sharing this burden with other leading powers.

Reality and pragmatism should motivate even the thickest Congressmen to think once again about which is better: to treat Russia as a partner, or as an enemy that must be neutralized. It is perfectly obvious that not a single serious issue in the modern world can be resolved without Russia. We don’t need confrontation with the U.S., or with the West, or the East.

It is abundantly clear that there is no alternative to a multi-polar world with major centers of influence (the U.S., European Union, Russia, China, and India). The current alignment of the world’s forces makes it more rational for Russia to cooperate – while always relying on the UN – with NATO, the OSCE, EU, China, India and other interested countries, in order to persistently resist confrontation-prone politics in the world arena and seek the adoption of international legal standards that would ban aggression against other countries. In a multi-polar world, other interested countries and organizations could support a campaign for a fundamental improvement in international relations.

The analysis of trends in the development of the world situation suggests that Washington’s political course will inevitably lead to confrontation with many countries. Under the circumstances, Russia will have to act as a geopolitical arbiter for objective reasons. On the one hand, it is necessary to show restraint in defining and upholding national interests. A country should be tough only when it comes to its vital interests. On the other hand, national interests should not be underestimated. Otherwise, opportunities for economic development and the use of geopolitical factors will be limited. At the same time, the postwar years showed that extreme and unrealistic conceptions of national interests and attempts to defend them at all costs engendered confrontational foreign policy and military doctrines, undermined economies, and totally destroyed those misinterpreted national goals. We should not allow this to happen.

Q: What threats to Russian security will be covered by the new military doctrine? What will the armed forces have to do in this context?

A: This is one of the most complicated questions and the one where opinions differ the most. There are two approaches to the problem. The first one is included in the new doctrine, which is oriented only to military threats and means of resisting them militarily. The advocates of the second approach suggest proceeding from the fundamental military-political changes in the world and taking into account a broad range of military and other threats, for instance, in politics, diplomacy, the economy and information. The Soviet Union’s disintegration, Yugoslavia’s collapse, and “color” revolutions in Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan make it plain that the main threats are carried out not so much militarily as by covert methods.

This leads to the conclusion that military and non-military threats should be viewed as an integral whole. Social, political, economic, territorial, religious, national and ethnic disputes between regions and states remain the main potential causes of an aggravation of the military-political situation in Russia.

To begin with, if we were to generalize about the numerous and versatile threats we face today, the list would include above all the efforts of certain international forces and leading countries to encroach on Russia’s sovereignty and prejudice its economic and other interests; different forms of political and informational pressure and subversion, as was the case in Ukraine, Georgia, and Kyrgyzstan; and territorial claims along the entire length of our borders. The threat to energy security is becoming particularly serious for us. Top NATO leaders view even a change in prices for energy resources as a kind of aggression. Hence, our task is to prevent, localize and neutralize such threats by political, diplomatic, economic, informational, and other non-military methods.

Secondly, the use of nuclear arms and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction continue to threaten Russia. The nuclear weapons of all major nuclear powers are ultimately designed to be used against Russia, whether we want to admit it or not. In this context, the task of curbing a potential aggressor by means of a strategic nuclear deterrent is becoming more important than in the past.

Thirdly, there are military threats to Russia, including a risk of armed conflicts and even a large-scale war. The leading powers are clearly trying to leap towards military-technical predominance; powerful armed formations on Russia’s borders are sharply upsetting the military balance. NATO is expanding its sphere of operations and intends to act on a global scale.

At home, the most dangerous threats are terrorism and separatism, which are usually provoked from outside to disrupt Russia’s unity and territorial integrity.

In this context, the military doctrine should provide for the readiness of the armed forces and other troops to carry out combat missions in local armed conflicts and counterterrorist operations, and to be mobilized for large-scale regional wars.

The world’s leading countries (Russia, China, the U.S. and other NATO members) face common threats that can only be neutralized by common efforts. In view of this, the Russian military doctrine should contain provisions that align it with the military doctrines of other countries, particularly in the fight against terrorism.

Transnational dangers can only be resisted by transnational mechanisms. It is also possible to demarcate zones of responsibility between NATO and the CSTO [Collective Security Treaty Organization].

Q: What do you think about the doctrine’s provision on a possible first strike using nuclear arms?

A: Future wars are likely to be conducted with high-precision conventional arms in the context of a permanent nuclear threat. If Russia is faced with an extremely unfavorable alignment of forces in all strategic directions, nuclear weapons will remain the most important and reliable strategic deterrent against foreign aggression.

At the same time, the effectiveness of nuclear weapons should not be overestimated. It would be wrong to assume that Russia’s security is guaranteed as long as it has nuclear weapons. The Soviet Union had nuclear arms, but it does not exist anymore. These weapons are not universal. They cannot be used in such conflicts as in Chechnya, or to neutralize economic, information, and other forms of aggression.

Now that the potential of our space-based weapons, missile warning system, and strategic nuclear force has decreased, we may not be capable even of effective retaliation against a potential enemy, not to mention a launch-under-attack strike. Therefore, we should maintain and build up our nuclear deterrent. The doctrine should also pay attention to the development of general-purpose forces: the air force, navy, and ground troops. Russia has a vast territory, and it will not be able to cope without strong general-purpose forces if it has to deal with an invasion by ground troops of a potential enemy in the east and south.

The new military doctrine pays attention to the transformation of the armed forces, the development of an integrated air and space defense system, the use of contact and non-contact methods of warfare, the conduct of active pre-emptive strikes, and other vital issues of military development, including the formation of mixed units and detachments consisting of professionals and draftees, all of which simply cannot be described in a short interview.

Nevertheless, the new doctrine will be based on the concept of active defense. The Russian president will endorse it in line with our Constitution. But it will become viable only when it wins the support of the military community and public, and when it unites the majority of our people, who are not indifferent to the fate of our homeland.