Russia has three enemies: external, internal, and transborder ones

The new views on Russia's defences, which Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov put forth at a conference of military leaders, presupposes three groups of threats - external, internal, and transborder ones. It is important that the threats have been named loud and clear, something which the national security concept or the first military doctrine approved by presidential decree in 2000 did not do. It is even said that Ivanov's report at the Moscow conference is a kind of warning to Russia's neighbours, partners and allies.

According to the minister, Moscow regards dangerous the deployment of groups of forces on its borders, the holding of tactical exercises with provocative goals, and the deployment of foreign troops in the border areas as a major external threat. It will also regard such actions as preparations for an attack at Russia or its allies.

Other elements of the "risk zone" are territorial claims, the creation of weapons of mass destruction, and interference in Russia's internal affairs by other states and "organisations supported by other countries." Likewise, the Kremlin views as dangerous external threat attacks at Russian military facilities in foreign countries and the expansion of military blocs to the detriment of Russia's security, as well as instability and weakness of state institutes in border countries, or discrimination against and suppression of the rights and freedoms and legitimate interests of Russian citizens in foreign countries.

Sergei Ivanov told journalists: "We are not too worried about developments in, say, Chile or Botswana, but should this happen, say, in ... (here the minister paused but did not name any country bordering on Russia), then we will interfere in the situation immediately." And next the minister openly said exactly how the Russian armed forces would interfere in the situation: "by a variety of military actions, including pre-emptive strikes."

Colonel-General Yuri Baluyevsky, first deputy chief of the General Staff, told RIA Novosti that it may be "actions by the special troops of the Airborne Force or other similar structures."

As the saying goes, "a promise is not the marriage vows." There is a great distance between words and deeds. But the fact that the leaders of the Russian defence department openly proclaim the possibility of interference in the internal affairs of neighbouring countries should their actions threaten Russia's national interests or the legitimate interests, rights and freedoms of its citizens, speaks volumes. At the very least, it has erased ambiguity and understatement from the foreign and military policy of the country.

But do Russia and its army have enough resources to take such action? Time will show. So far, Moscow has determined not only external but also internal threats.

In enumerating the latter, Sergei Ivanov pointed to attempted use of force to change the constitutional regime and territorial integrity of the country, the creation and operation of illegal armed formations, large-scale operations of organised crime, separatism and actions of radical religious-nationalist movements. In the past, these threats were the responsibility of the Interior Troops and FSB special forces. But from now on, Russia "will regard it as irresponsible to limit the operation of the army to external tasks."

The situation in Chechnya shows that the task of defeating illegal armed formations, terrorists and bandits cannot be fulfilled only by the Interior Troops, OMON, SOBR, police (including the republican one), or even FSB special forces. The general purpose units, as well as Blue Berets (airborne force) and Black Berets (Marines) have played and will probably continue to play for a long time the main part in the counter-terrorist operation. But anti-terror experts from the Interior Ministry and FSB will lead the joint group of forces, formulate tasks and appoint zones of responsibility.

The efforts of the FSB, the Interior Ministry, the army and the navy must be also integrated to neutralise transborder threats to the sovereignty and national interests of Russia, which arise at the junction of external and internal "anti-state actions." One example is international terrorism, whose members blow up houses in Moscow and Volgodonsk but whose training and equipment are financed by foreign funds, including extremist religious groups. Sergei Ivanov said the range of these threats includes smuggling, drug trafficking and hostile information-technical and information-psychological actions against Russia or its allies.

The neutralisation and liquidation of such transborder threats is becoming a direct task of Russia's armed forces.

It is believed in the defence department that none of the current conflict situations poses a direct threat to Russia's security but they must not be underestimated either. We must be prepared to any turn of events; we must not wait until they claim lives. Such threats must be precluded or terminated before they develop, said Sergei Ivanov. "Those who fail to abandon stereotypes will be doomed to tragedy," he said. And few people would disagree with that.

The situation is complicated by the fact that the country does not have the economic possibilities to get ready to fulfil all defence tasks simultaneously, to make military plans with regard to all aspects of external, internal and transborder threats. We will have to choose priority areas, which is a challenging task for the state and military leaders.

It appears that the Russian leadership has made its choice, though. The priority measures enumerated by the minister include the creation of permanent readiness units and formations manned predominantly with contract servicemen and subsequent creation of mobile forces on this basis.

There should be 80 such units (including 72 in the armed forces) with the aggregate strength of 147,500. Their creation will end by 2008, when the federal target programme of the transition of the army and navy to service by contract is to be implemented. But there is one problem - money. The defence minister links its solution with the doubling of GDP, the official goal of the president's policy.

As for money, we should remember that the share of modern weapons and hardware in the Russian army and navy is barely 20-30%, while the figure for the leading armies of the world is 70-80%. This casts a bright light on the scale of the task facing the national defence industries. It will be extremely difficult - but not impossible, as Sergei Ivanov put it - to catch up with the USA or Britain in this area.

Until more allocations are channelled into defence, the strategic deterrence forces will remain the pillar of Russia's national security. They are being reduced yet developed now, getting novel missile systems. And the systems they have now have a sufficiently long life ahead of them, until 2030. Besides, the missiles whose service life is expiring can be replaced with a few dozen of "fresh" UR-100 NUTTKh (SS-19 Stiletto) systems which had never been on combat duty, said President Putin.

According to RIA Novosti, these 32 formerly Soviet missiles have been purchased from Ukraine, where they had been stored in depots. Each of them can carry six 750-kiloton individually targeted nuclear warheads. They will be put on combat duty to neutralise threats to Russia's security and guard the creation of a new army.

[Source: RIA Novosti military analyst Viktor Litovkin, Russian Information Agency (Novosti), Moscow, 09Oct03]

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Este documento ha sido publicado el 29nov03 por el This document has been published on 14oct03 by the Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights, in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.
Equipo Nizkor - Vladimir Putin on attempts to involve world community into ethnic conflicts



Vladimir Putin on attempts to involve world community into ethnic conflicts

PUTRAJAYA (Malaysia), October 16, 2003 (RIA Novosti special correspondent) -- Vladimir Putin has pointed out the attempts to involve the world community into ethnic conflicts, both in the West and in the East.

Speaking at the Organisation of the Islamic Conference summit, the Russian President stated, "stirring up ethnic and religious conflicts is one of the most dangerous threats facing modern society.

"I would like to point out that there are attempts to involve the world community into this artificial conflict, both in the West and in the East," said the Russian leader.

"Some, hiding behind religious slogans, actively conduct a real military aggression against their brothers and allies, fight against legitimate authorities, incite separatism, and commit acts of terror," the Russian President emphasised. "Others use this situation as an instrument of political pressure to satisfy their selfish interests, which have nothing in common either with the interests of Islam, or with the protection of human rights, or with the respect of international law in general," Mr. Putin continued.

"We have plenty of these examples in our country - in Chechnya," he stressed.

However, "it is unlikely that anybody could be more of a Muslim, then Muslims themselves," Mr. Putin emphasised.

[Source: Russian Information Agency (Novosti), Moscow, 16Oct03]

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This document has been published on 29nov03 by the Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights, in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.