Russia, quo vadis? The current Russian security strategy

Christian Wolf


Can an outsider try to analyze the Russian geopolitical thinking and strategy development when even the Russian writer Fjodor Tjutschew could not understand his country in 1866? Nevertheless, this attempt is made in the following essay, because the results of the decisions made by the Russian Federation (RF), such as the gas crisis, sometimes strongly affect our everyday life and can bring about global political and economic consequences. This fact leads to the questions how the current Russian security strategy is supposed to be understood, by which aspects it is influenced, and which security political effects can be derived from it. Here the focus of attention are the National Security Strategy of the Russian Federation to 2020 (NSS2020), the constant factors of Russia’s political system taking effect on it, and the implications of the Russian strategy for its relationships with the EU, GUS and USA. The NSS2020 takes up Russia’s national interests which go beyond the day-to-day political events and which have become the starting point for Russia’s goals. If and how the lofty missions of the NSS2020 can be completed will have to be measured against the challenges to be overcome, such as ethnic issues, population decrease, the Chinese infiltration of Siberia, the Islamic penetration, the lack of infrastructure, and an obsolete economic structure. The most urgent questions expecting answers are a solution for the Caucasus Region going beyond military establishment of peace, domestic stabilization including minorities, structural realignment of economy, and a pioneer, well-balanced and international political positioning of the RF as well. Especially concerning its foreign policy and security policy one can deduce that in future, too, the RF will not be willing to stand by and watch a further expansion of NATO into Russia’s strategic glacis. With its military action Russia has drawn a red line in the sand, as a warning to all nations of GUS, like e.g. Ukraine. This could be realized distinctly after the Ukrainian change of government. Accordingly, unlike most EU member states, the NSS2020 attaches great importance to the availability of efficient armed forces. Again unlike most EU member states, it also gets it straight that Moscow has the political determination to put them into action. Against this backdrop the EU ought to reassess the scheduled development of its military potential. This development is part of a geopolicy which reaches back to the middle of the 19th century and represents the dream of an empire stretching from the Pacific to the Channel. Europe, at least so far, has nothing to oppose this with. Where will Russia go then? This question cannot be answered definitely and completely. One can, however, deduce from the identified intentions, actions and statements in the NSS2020 that the Russian leaders will step up their efforts to let the country rise, like a phoenix from the ashes.