Putin Presents Military Policy for Securing Russia's Sovereignty

by Rachel Douglas

Russian Prime Minister and Presidential candidate Vladimir Putin Monday made two major interventions into policy discussions of Russia's security under strategic conditions that could rapidly escalate into a global showdown — nuclear war — at any time. One was a lengthy article in the government newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta, the fifth in a series of campaign platform documents by Putin, this one under the title "Being Strong: National Security Guarantees for Russia." The same day, Putin chaired a government meeting at the Sukhoy aircraft plant in Komsomolsk-on-Amur, in Russia's Far East, which was a partly public, partly closed-door discussion of Russia's defense industry sector and its relationship with the economy as a whole. He was accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister Dmitri Rogozin, now in charge of this area.

In the lead of the new article, Putin bluntly stated that Russia sees its sovereignty as under threat, and he linked this danger to the world economic turmoil: "The world is changing, and the transformations under way may bring various risks, often unpredictable risks. In a world of economic and other upheaval, there is always the temptation to resolve one's problems at another's expense, through pressure and force. It is no accident that some people already today are saying that it will supposedly soon be 'objectively' the case, that national sovereignty should not extend to resources of global significance. There will be no possibility of this, even a hypothetical one, with respect to Russia. In other words, we should not tempt anyone by allowing ourselves to be weak."

Immediately after this statement, Putin identified Russia's strategic nuclear missile capability as the bedrock of its national security. He acknowledged the take-down of much of Russia's other military capability during the 1990s, underscoring that only because it remained a nuclear superpower was Russia able to come through that period: "It is for this reason that we will under no circumstances surrender our strategic deterrent capability, and indeed, will in fact strengthen it. It was this strength that enabled us to maintain our national sovereignty during the extremely difficult 1990s, when, let's be frank, we did not have anything else to argue with. Obviously, we will not be able to strengthen our international position, and develop our economy or our democratic institutions, if we are unable to protect Russia — if we fail to calculate the risks of possible conflicts, secure our military-technological independence and prepare an adequate military response capability as a last-resort response to some kind of challenge."

With this language about "unpredictable risks" and "a last-resort response," Putin dramatized the current threat of full-scale thermonuclear global showdown, even as he wrote that "the probability of a global war between nuclear powers is not high, because that would mean the end of civilization."

The article then reviewed the already adopted 23-trillion-ruble (~ $767 billion) "development programs for our armed forces and for the modernization of Russia's defense industry" between now and 2020, designed to address not only current threats, but to look "past the horizon" to 30 or 50 years in the future. Given Putin's integrated discussion of defense and the economy, including the ever-troublesome challenge of bringing Russia's defense-sector technological breakthroughs to bear in the civilian economy, this invoking of the horizon principle is highly significant.

Putin's Rossiyskaya Gazeta article is available in full in English on the Prime Minister's website. Readers will find in it many updated and upgraded formulations drawn from one of the first major policy documents, adopted when Putin took office in 1999: the Military Doctrine of the Russian Federation, which was a first attempt to restore a sovereign outlook in military development, right when Russia was under attack in the Second Chechen War (as highlighted by Lyndon LaRouche's "Storm Over Asia" video that summer). (Reference for the 1999 doctrine: EIR, October 29, 1999: "Russian 'Doctrine': The Posture of a Big Military Power, Under Attack").

In the new article, as in the 1999 document, but now with a sharper focus, Putin presents policies drawn directly from Soviet Armed Forces General Staff strategists such as Marshal V.D. Sokolovsky, author of the famous Military Strategy book of the early 1960s, and Marshal Nikolai V. Ogarkov, whose war plan was in effect during the global showdown period of the 1980s (in the Gorbachov period, after Yuri Andropov's rejection of the SDI and before the breakup of the Soviet bloc). These policy-areas include the brigade structure of the Russian armed forces — as opposed to larger divisions, which by the late 1990s existed only on paper, based on the flexible airborne and special-forces brigades developed under Ogarkov; and the concept that "weapons systems based on new physical principles" will be increasingly decisive — language coming almost verbatim from Ogarkov's writings of the mid-1980s. (The latter idea, going back to Sokolovsky, should not be confused with the utopian "revolution in military affairs" technotronic approach in the West, even though the term was borrowed from the Ogarkov-era Russian General Staff. )

The issue of technology transfer to the civilian sector was further discussed at the Komsomolsk-on-Amur meeting, as was Russia's dire skilled-manpower situation. Rogozin noted that the median age of people employed in the military-industrial complex is 46, but there are actually scarcely any people working in the sector from the generation lost after the end of the Soviet Union: "There are 20-year-olds, who really now have started working in this sector, and there are seasoned workers who are over 60, but there are no 46-year-olds."

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