The Role and Place of Russia in Today's World

Journal Title: Military Thought

Issue Edition: Vol. 28, No. 2

Author: Yu. Gaidunko, S. Makarova


Lt. Col. Yu.A. GAIDUNKO (Res.), Candidate of Sciences (Educ.)
S.P. MAKAROVA, Candidate of Sciences (Soc.)

Source: Military Thought, Vol. 28, No. 2, pp. 33-41

Abstract. This paper offers ways of improving the architecture of international security on the basis of the emerging international situation.

Keywords: international law, international security, sovereignty, foreign policy, cooperation, national security, military doctrine, military potential.

The crisis of the contemporary system of international security is due to both the current alignment of forces and the reluctance of certain states to come to an agreement with their opponents.

"At the moment the world is going through a crucial stage when relations between states are changing, and the emphasis is increasingly on settling differences by force. Some countries claiming to be exceptional encourage a new arms race." That was how RF Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu described the international situation in his speech at the 7th Conference on International Security held in Moscow on April 4-5, 2018.1

Despite the numerous complaints against the UN and calls for having it reformed, the Organization continues to operate and remains the only universal international floor for coordinating various approaches and positions. However, the generally known instances of using armed force in circumvention of resolutions by the UN Security Council have had an adverse effect on the status of this most important entity in settling international conflicts, and created a precedent for similar actions in the future. The right of veto granted to SC permanent members is likewise losing its effect of a containing factor for aggressors. The more powerful take decisions prompted by the political and ideological expediency. Even such universal international principles as noninterference in the internal affairs of a state and the right of nations to self-determination in the current conditions are ceasing to be imperatives.2 The erosion of internattional law is a direct consequence of the bipolar world's demise and domination of a single center of power that has replaced the former.

The ideologues of globalization as a major argument in favor of stable existence for the monocentric world system used to cite the idea that in society interconnected by a global economy there would be no cause for military conflicts. Accordingly, whereas previously this state was ensured by the military parity of the two opposing systems, later, once the Soviet Union disintegrated, it relied on unified economy whose chief players and promoters were and are representatives of the liberal wing in the U.S. ruling elite and transnational corporations connected with the former.

A significant feature of the world economic globalization process in the late 20th and early 21st centuries was its artificial spurring by political means, and rejection of the natural laws of market development.3 These ranged from the use of soft power in states induced to join the processes and viewed as new markets, to the crude application of the fist law under the slogans of democracy export or humanitarian intervention aimed at demolishing the established economic ties and their subsequent transformation in the perpetrator's favor. A vivid example of the latter were the events of the Arab Spring.4 Yet its consequences gave the expert community reason to speak of the failure of Steven Mann's controlled chaos theory as a technology of neocolonial redivision of the world.5

At the same time, in the part of the globe inhabited by the so-called Golden Billion, a whole complex of problems started coming to the fore; irregular migration of the refugees from Africa and the Middle East flooding across the European borders, a succession of terrorist acts, etc. Apart from this, disintegration has entered an active phase affecting such economically crucial regions as Western Europe and the Middle East: Brexit, attempts at self-determination by some territorial entities in Great Britain, Spain, and Italy, creation of a Kurdish state. The new White House Administration, in its turn, resolved to withdraw from the Transpacific and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnerships, which used to be the token projects of globalization.

The U.S. Democratic Party losing the presidential election would not resign itself to the fact and unleashed an information campaign against president elect, which has radically hindered the process of decision-making for him, and so also reduced the predictability of his politics. The controversy in the political elite of the superpower is negatively impacting the entire global political process. The European elites used to the U.S. dominance, and those following their lead are becoming less of a monolith under the new White House Administration, although from habit they still try to keep a consolidated stand on most issues. The watershed, among other things, is the attitude to the West's relations with Russia. Such countries as Poland, Ukraine, or the Baltic states, to please their masters in the U.S., are willing to disregard their own economic interests for the sake of achieving political objectives aimed at aggravating confrontation with Russia.

On the other hand, Germany, Austria, Hungary, and the Czech Republic take a more pragmatic position and look askance at the protectionist policy of the U.S. Establishment manifested in imposing sanctions on European companies that implement certain projects in the Russian market.

The current hotbeds of tension have merely rendered more difficult the international situation. The reference is primarily to the conflicts in the Middle East and Ukraine. Moreover, the world community has repeatedly been confronted with the fact that the system of international security that evolved during the standoff between the two systems, in present-day conditions cannot function smoothly. Cases of using armed force in disregard of the UN Security Council resolutions (the bombing of Serbia, the intervention in Iraq) are graphic proof of that.

Another destabilizing factor is the U.S. foreign policy. Lately, the White House has quarreled with North Korea, yet there are signs of this contradiction getting settled. Caution in predicting a positive outcome for the would-be negotiations is dictated both by the noncontinuity policy of the U.S. leadership with regard to the work of the previous Administration, and inconsistency in their own actions in international relations. A case in point may be the fact that on May 8, 2018, President Trump announced a unilateral withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (known commonly as the Iran nuclear deal) threatening to impose more sanctions. The agreement member states and many side observers view similar actions as political vandalism, because the withdrawal was effected in violation of the procedure provided for in the agreement, and with demands of similar withdrawals to the allied countries on pain of sanctions imposed on them.

Besides, the U.S. contradictions with Turkey are getting worse, among other things, on the Kurdish issue; in case of the EU and China, the quarrel is over customs duties for whole groups of commodities. The thing causing concern is the utterly unauthorized presence of U.S. army formations on Syria's territory, and in some cases, their employment against the armed forces of that state. A highly negative factor in the Palestine-Israel relations was the transfer of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.

The thing worth a special mention is the deteriorating relations between the RF and the U.S.A. where the starting point seems to be Washington's reaction to Vladimir Putin's 2007 speech at the Munich conference on security politics. The address focused on the unipolar world being inadmissible in present-day conditions, and on the role and place of Russia there, given the current reality and threats.6 The West took Putin's words as an indication that Russia had been heading for independent foreign policy, and defense of its national interests. What happened next was the launch of a steadily accelerating flywheel of unprecedented information warfare against Russia. At the moment, we are witnessing an unceasing battle of sanctions and countersanctions between countries. Especially disquieting is the fact that the U.S. side refuses to comply with its liabilities under previously approved disarmament programs (for weapon-grade plutonium. or destruction of chemical weapons). All START III accords are gradually being devalued. AMD systems are already active not only on U.S. territory (Alaska. California), but also in Eastern Europe; there are now two similar areas in Romania and Poland. Moreover, there are plans to further deploy bases in Japan and South Korea.7 The unfortunate result of this policy was mutual distrust, overcoming which at present is entirely out of the question.

The U.S. openly positions Russia as an Axis of Evil component. To fight Russia, the United States seeks to have our economy in tatters with the help of the following.

- unleashing an arms race;

- rewriting history;

- waging information warfare involving input of fakes under the slogans of isolating and discrediting Russia on the international arena;

- imposing sanctions against certain economic sectors, members of the political leadership and business elite;

- steadily growing NPO funding (in 2015-2017, the U.S. Administration annually allocated over 70 billion rubles to 4,500 nonprofit organizations; some 150 of those were recognized as alien agents).8

The scenarios of further events that the U.S. stage managers are hoping to see enacted are fairly predictable; they expect the people to increasingly resent the ruling regime because of a drastic drop in the living standards, and society to split into ethnic and religious sections, with the protest potential of the youth increasing, and the informal opposition stirred to action. It is not unlikely either that a fifth column will be set up within the business circles, among the intellectuals, media people, and university lecturers.

Here this is clearly about purposeful attempts at undermining the internal and external sovereignty of the state and also delegitimizing the authorities that work to maintain and consolidate the trend toward independence in domestic and foreign policies.9

Another thing that points to growing tension in the international situation is the hands of the Doomsday Clock, which were at 23:57 in 2015-2016, but were moved forward half a minute because of Russia-U.S. relations deteriorating and the news of North Korea developing nuclear arms, while already in January 2018 the Clock said 23:58 (according to Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists of Chicago University). The latest forward shift of the Clock hands by 30 seconds was related to US President Donald Trump and other world leaders failing to remove the threats of nuclear war and climate changes.10

In contrast to the Soviet Union, the RF stand in today's conditions is more vulnerable. The result of the Soviet Union's disintegration was that Russia ended up with a mere 75 percent of its territory, half of its population, 60 percent of GDP, 60 percent of its industrial potential, and 50 percent of its military potential.11

Besides, over the recent decades this country has become fairly deeply integrated in the international economic environment where it is not among the key players and, therefore, takes no part in decision-making. Our financial system is incorporated in the international financial system; a portion of our currency reserves is in foreign finance institutions. It is hardly a secret that some members of our political elite and major business entities closely associated with the former have a personal interest outside their country. Russia's underbelly is also the fact that its entire economic model relied until recently on selling mineral resources to the West. Russia is dependent on its customers who can raise or lower the price of the exported commodity or of its transit.

The chief strategic risks and threats to national security in the economic sphere in the long term are believed by this country's leadership to be preservation of the raw-materials-export model of national economy development, reduced competitiveness, and considerable dependence of its major spheres on the external economic situation, as well as loss of control over national resources.12

One of the main lines in the National Security Strategy of the Russian Federation for a medium term is said to be technological security.13 "It is precisely our lagging behind that is our main threat and our number one enemy. Unless we manage to reverse the situation, the problem will continue to deteriorate," such was the assessment the President voiced in his Address to the Federal Assembly.14

Technological self-sufficiency is one of the major constituents of state sovereignty. Today's world is developing by leaps and bounds, and if the state neglects this matter, the backwardness will become critical, which will inevitably force us to use foreign technologies and so make us technologically dependent until we lose our sovereignty. This risk is particularly significant for advanced states, since they are the chief consumers of new technologies.

In the global hierarchy, the great power role is contested by those who possess natural, technological, scientific, economic, and therefore, also political resources. So the country's leadership is taking steps to diversify the economy, alter the correlation between hydrocarbon and other mineral resources exports, further processing facilities in various industries, develop alternative transit logistics to export gas, and develop own modern technologies.

Nowadays, one can state that international law has formed two trends, namely, most states forsaking a portion of their sovereignty in exchange for their place within the unipolar world, and accepting the fist law principle in interstate relations. Naturally, not every state is up to choosing whether to be sovereign or cede some of its independence. Sovereignty is an expensive commodity, and in the current conditions only three states seem to possess that in full measure, the Russian Federation, China, and the United States.

The debatable issue is the elements making up sovereignty. Is the state's economic might a sine qua non there? We think that the said characteristic is important but not crucial. Thus, Russia has far from the greatest economic potential (two percent to four percent of global GDP, which makes sure that it gets among the Top Ten),15 but considering its military might and ability to provide itself with material resources without external borrowing, it can conduct independent foreign policy and anyway, the position of our state is unique. Throughout several centuries now we have possessed sovereignty that had to be repeatedly defended in armed struggle. We occupy the largest territory in the world and possess vast natural resources, which is a constant irritant to certain states. Russia, therefore, is not up against a choice between sovereignty and political geocapitulation; total sovereignty is a sine qua non for its existence as a state in present-day forms, and at the same time, a superpower attribute.

As for the matter of the right of the strong in the world community, any superpower should prove precisely by its foreign policy its relevance in defining the rules of the game on the international arena, defend its interests and those of its allies on universal and regional sites. The range of means for implementing these tasks is fairly extensive for great powers, from compromises and right of veto in the UN Security Council, to using their military potential in accordance with the international law standards and their military doctrines.

At present, the world is witnessing a boost to the rivalry over the place in the global hierarchy. The situation is made more complex by the fact that the mechanism of managing the world political process and global economy, only recently operational, is no longer as effective as it used to be, and requires upgrading at the very least, which in turn adjusts the leading countries' approaches to implementing their foreign policy. Current reality calls for new rules there, and these rules will continue to be defined by the strongest states.

The task of the Russian Federation is to remain a superpower and consolidate this status pursuing an independent and individual foreign policy course. This is the only way if we wish to see this country in existence and progressing. Therefore, our foreign-policy priorities include provision of the country's security, sovereignty, and territorial integrity, consolidation of the RF position as a more influential center in today's world, and furthering the provision of universal security and stability architecture in order to establish an international system based on international law supremacy.16

According to the results of the sociological survey conducted by the Federal Sociology Research Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences in April 2018, 58 percent of the Russians believe that the main objective for the country in the 21st century is to be among the most economically advanced and politically influential states of the world; for 31 percent this is to see Russia recover its superpower status, and only four percent think that the country should not strive for global goals. This is a repeat research, and the results obtained are practically the same as in the first research dating back to April 2014. Let us observe that 36 percent of our compatriots, assessing the current position of Russia in the world, consider it to be a leading power comparable to the United States and China in terms of impact on global processes.17

In the emerging complex, dynamically changing international situation, the country's political leadership has reviewed and corrected views on issues of national security and its individual constituents. The result of this work was adoption of a number of strategic, conceptual, and doctrinal documents.

Thus in 2009 the National Security Strategy of the Russian Federation until the Year 2020 was approved. In 2015, it was revised. The main lines in national security provision named there are strategic national priorities, which define the purpose of major social, political, and economic transformations when creating safe conditions for exercising constitutional rights and freedoms of the RF citizens, implementing a sustainable development of the country, and preserving the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the state.18

In 2014, the RF President signed the Military Doctrine that takes into account the main provisions of the Concept of Long-Term Socio-Economic Development of the Russian Federation until the Year 2020, the National Security Strategy of the Russian Federation until the Year 2020, and also corresponding provisions in the Foreign Policy Concept of the Russian Federation and strategic planning documents.19

On the basis of the said documents, the State Armaments Program for 2018-2027 was adjusted and approved. This document provides for developing and purchasing cutting-edge types of weapons, giving priority to such trends as high-precision weapons, UAV, employment of artificial intelligence for military purposes, and others. Besides, they passed the Doctrine of Food Security, and the Doctrine of Information Security, which should be seen as stages in consolidating the state's security, i.e. the basis of its sovereignty.

Thus food security is among the main trends in the provision of the country's national security in the medium term. It is viewed as a factor of preserving statehood and sovereignty,20 while the strategic objective of information security provision in the country's defense is protection of the vital interests of the individual, society, and the state from internal and external threats related to the use of information technologies to military-political ends that go against international law, including in order to commit hostile acts and aggression aimed at undermining the sovereignty, violating the territorial integrity of states and jeopardizing international peace, security, and strategic stability.21

It is expedient to introduce changes in the effective version of the Military Doctrine in accordance with the current reality.

■ First, it was adopted before the start of our military grouping's active involvement in the Syrian events.

■ Second, in 2017, the United States signed its National Security Strategy, which outlined its priorities in the sphere.

Some points in this document are causing concern. Thus, it has recorded a lower threshold of nuclear retaliation, namely, in response to the use of conventional weapons or cyber attacks.22

Given all of the above, we propose adding to Russia's military policy such provisions as indicating Russia's claims to the role of a military superpower, possibility of averting aggression against our state outside its territory, and the presence of our military contingents abroad on a permanent basis in various regions of the world.

The doctrine registers the right of the Russian Federation to use nuclear arms in response to nuclear and other kinds of weapons of mass destruction used against this country and/or its allies, and also in the event of aggression against Russia involving conventional weapons when the very existence of the state is under threat.23 It is expedient to use as a retaliatory measure a lowered threshold of nuclear weapon employment. For instance, the possibility of using that in response to Russia or its allies being attacked with tactical nuclear weapons or warheads with depleted uranium, and also massive cyber attacks against the country's life-supporting facilities.

By way of the quintessence of the above, one can summarize the general idea of the second part of the Address to the Federal Assembly, which the RF President made in 2018. He stated that Russia today is a leading power with a great external-economic and defense potential that can protect its sovereignty and independence under any challenges, which is a necessary condition for the state's existence in its present form, and also its sustainable and independent development. However, neither the role of superpower nor the military might can change Russia's attitude to its foreign policy. As always, it adheres to the principles of international law and is open to equal and mutually beneficial cooperation on the international arena.24


1. Speech by the Defense Minister of the Russian Federation, General of the Army Sergei Shoigu, at the 7th Moscow Conference on International Security. URL:выступление-министра-обороны-рф-сергея-шойгу-на-vii-московской-конференции-по-международной-безопасн-5j5wIs2tX50 (Retrieved on April 8, 2018.)

2. Oleinov, A.G., Sovremenniye mezhdunarodniye otnosheniya [Present-Day International Relations], Textbook. Ed. by Torkunov, A.V., Malgin, A.V., Aspekt-Press, Moscow, 2017.

3. Kutuzova, Ye.A., Globalizatsiya ekonomiki i yeyo vliyaniye na ekonomiku Rossiyi [Economy Globalization and Its Effect on Russia's Economy]," Elektronniy nauchno-prakticheskiy zhurnal Gumanitarniye nauchniye issledovaniya [Electronic theoretical and practical journal Humanitarian Research]. URL: (Retrieved on April 8, 2018.)

4. Kozhahmet-uly, K., "Arabskaya vesna": predposylki, kharakter i znacheniye [The Arab Spring: Prerequisites, Nature and Significance]," Vestnik KazNU [Kazakh National University Press], 2013. URL: (Retrieved on April 8, 2018.)

5. Doktrina upravlyayemogo khaosa: aktual'nost' issledovaniya [The Controlled Chaos Doctrine: the Relevance of Research], Politobrazovaniye: informatsionno-analiticheskiy zhurnal. URL: (Retrieved on April 8, 2018.); Teoriya upravlyayemogo khaosa i Stiven Mann [The Controlled Chaos Theory and Steven Mann], Politobrazovaniye.... URL: (Retrieved on April 8, 2018.)

6. Speech by Vladimir Putin at the Munich Conference on Security Politics of February 10. 2007. URL: (Retrieved on March 3, 2018.)

7. Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, Chicago University journal. URL: (Retrieved on April 8, 2018.)

8. Speech by Vladimir Putin at the Munich Conference....

9. Kuznetsova, Ye., Uskol'zayushchiy suverenitet: status-kvo protiv ideologiyi peremen [The Elusive Sovereignty: Status Quo versus the Ideology of Change], Monograph, ARGAMAKMEDIA Publishers, Moscow, 2013; Moiseyev, A.A., O nekotorykh vzglyadakh na suverenitet [On Certain Views of Sovereignty]. URL:Моисеев%20A.A.%2074-79.pdf (Retrieved on April 8, 2018.)

10. Bulletin of Atomic Scientists....

11. Poslaniye Prezidenta RF Federal'nomu Sobraniyu ot 01.03.2018 [Address by the RF President to the Federal Assembly of March 1, 2018], URL: (Retrieved on March 1, 2018.)

12. RF President's Decree 683 of December 31, 2015 O Strategiyi natsional'noy bezopasnosti Rossiyskoy Federatsiyi [On the National Security Strategy of the Russian Federation]. URL: (Retrieved on February 25, 2018.)

13. Ibid.

14. Poslaniye Prezidenta....

15. Priemskaya, Ye., Kozyakova, N., Kakoye mestopo razmeru ekonomiki Rossiya zanimayet v mire: sravneniye ekonomicheskikh pokazateley RF s krupneyshimi ekonomikami mira [The Place of Russia in the World in Terms of the Economy Size: Comparing RF Economic Indicators with the World's Biggest Economies]. URL: (Retrieved on February 28, 2018.)

16. Ukaz Prezidenta RF ot 05.12.2016 # 646 Ob utverzhdeniyi doktriny informatsionnoy bezopasnosti Rossiyskoy Federatsiyi [Decree 646 by the RF President of December 5, 2016 On Approving the Doctrine of Information Security of the Russian Federation}. URL: (Retrieved on February 25, 2018.)

17. Seliverstova, N., Rossiyane nazvali glavniye tseli strany [The Russians Name Their Country's Principal Objectives]. URL: (Retrieved on May 22, 2018.)

18. RF President's Decree 683....

19. Voyennaya doktrina Rossiyskoy Federatsiyi [The Military Doctrine of the Russian Federation]. Approved by RF President's Decree Pr-2976 of December 25, 2014. URL: (Retrieved on February 25, 2018.)

20. RF President's Decree 120 of January 30, 2010 Ob utverzhdeniyi doktriny prodovolstvennoy bezopasnosti Rossiyskoy Federatsiyi [On Approving the Food Security Doctrine of the Russian Federation]. URL: (Retrieved on February 25, 2018.)

21. RF President's Decree 646....

22. US National Security Strategy. URL: (Retrieved on March 1, 2018.)

23. Voyennaya doktrina Rossiyskoy Federatsiyi....

24. Bulletin of Atomic Scientists....

Translated by Margarita Kvartskhava

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