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Moscow Times
May 14, 2009
Kremlin Sees Threats In Economy, Energy
By Nikolaus von Twickel / The Moscow Times

Russia's security is threatened by economic instability, potential wars over energy resources and foreign spies, the Kremlin said in a key policy paper released Wednesday.

The Kremlin's long-awaited new national security strategy includes several standard threat assessments from NATO expansion to a planned U.S. missile defense shield but it also sets new priorities by addressing nonmilitary issues such as economic stability, science, education, culture and even ecological risks.

President Dmitry Medvedev on Tuesday signed off on the policy paper, which spells out national security policy through 2020, and it was officially published Wednesday by the Security Council, which is comprised of top politicians and intelligence chiefs.

The 7,300-word document says the country should develop its economy and catch up with the world's five largest economies "in the medium term." Last year, the International Monetary Fund ranked Russia's GDP as the world's eighth largest.

It also identifies the banking sector and natural resources as vital for national security because of their role in economic stability.

It states that international policy will in the long run be focused on energy resources, including in the Arctic.

"With the ongoing competition for resources, attempts to use military force to solve emerging problems cannot be excluded and this might destroy the balance of forces on Russia's and its allies' borders," the paper states.

The paper also singles out NATO and the United States as security risks.

"A global security architecture exclusively oriented toward the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was bound to fail," it says, adding that Russia "will not cease its vigilance with respect to plans to move NATO's military infrastructure closer to its borders and efforts to give the alliance a global character."

In a thinly veiled condemnation of U.S. foreign policy, the document asserts that Russia's military security is endangered "by efforts of a number of foreign countries to achieve military predominance, especially with nuclear forces."

Security analyst Andrei Soldatov said one new aspect of the strategy was a section identifying as a key security threat even more greater than terrorism "intelligence gathering and other activities of foreign states' special services and organizations."

In the jargon of Russia's security services, Soldatov said, "special services and organizations" also refers to nongovernmental organizations, which senior officials including Prime Minister Vladimir Putin have often characterized as fifth columns.

Alexander Konovalov, head of the Institute of Strategic Assessments, said the new strategy was actually less precise than its predecessor, adopted in 2000.

The new paper says little about the use of nuclear weapons, while the national strategy approved by Putin, then the president, in 2000 said Russia may use nuclear weapons to counter a nuclear or a large-scale conventional attack on the country or an ally, Konovalov said.

He also said it is strange that the strategy came out almost a year after the Kremlin published a new foreign policy conception last July.

"The national strategy is the most basic document from which foreign policy and military doctrine should be developed, Konovalov said.