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Russia categorises US, NATO as threats to national security. Could this be the revival of Cold War?

Ruchi Kumar | Updated on: 14 February 2017, 5:12 IST

A strategic document on national security recently released by the Russian government identifies the NATO military alliance and the United State as threats to Russia's national security.

The 40-page document, attested by Russian President Vladimir Putin at the end of 2015, lays the road map for Russia's national security planning up until 2020.

Relations between the United States and Russia have deteriorated considerably over the last four years; however, this is the first time since the fall of USSR in 1990 that the rival nation has categories the US as a national threat.

About the Strategy of National Security of the Russian Federation

The original draft, titled 'About the Strategy of National Security of Russian Federation', was first approved in 2009, however considering Russia's developing foreign relations and the dynamic global scenario, editions were made in 2015. The 2009 document did not mention the US or the NATO.

This one, however, sees Russia as an emerging force in international politics, which it believes could threaten existing superpowers. It reads:

"The strengthening of Russia, its independent foreign and internal policy prompts the US and its allies to initiate counteraction, as they are striving to maintain their dominant position in the world".

It further accuses the US and its allies of pursuing a policy of "constraining Russia". It lists efforts of consolidating "Russia's status as one of the leading world power", as a priority for the coming years.

It highlights NATO actions in Ukraine during the 2014 coup where they backed a pro-Western regime, a move that was seen by Russia as an attempt to compromise its sovereignty. NATO has indeed increased troops in the region following Crimea's consolidation with Russia in 2014. The document reads:

"The block's military activation, its continued expansion, and the approach of its military infrastructure to Russian borders, all create a threat to national security".

It also claims that the US is operating biological labs in these bases.

The document goes so far as to accuse the US of making deliberate efforts of creating "a public image of Russia as an enemy"

The document doesn't make any mention of the Middle East situation where the US and Russia find themselves as unwilling allies in military actions against the Islamic State near Iraq and Syria. It does however, accuse the NATO of "overthrowing legitimate political authorities and provoking internal instability and conflict", a reference perhaps to US's support towards Syria armed opposition against President Bashar al-Assad.

Reactions to the document

The NATO, on its part, has refuted the claims. We categorically reject totally unfounded claims that NATO and its policies constitute a security threat," a NATO spokesperson was quoted in the media on Wednesday.

Similarly, Pentagon, too denied the claims and assured they were "not looking for conflict with Russia".

However, Russia's fears of military confrontation might not be unfounded. A testimony to the US congress in June 2015, officials stated that they had been meeting to "assess and strategise on how the United States and key allies should think about heightened tensions with Russia over the past year".

It was also stated, at the same hearing, that the "US forces are preparing for possible preemptive counterforce strikes with nuclear weapons against military targets inside Russia".

Whether Russia's fears are tangible or unfounded, Putin's approach to take policy decisions against US and NATO is being perceived by many as a resurgence of the Cold War. The idea of an actual war between the two powers is gaining credential among analysts.

As Bruce G Blair, a nuclear security expert explains in Politico, "Top military command posts in the Moscow area can bypass the entire human chain of command and directly fire by remote control rockets in silos and on trucks as far away as Siberia in only 20 seconds,". He also described the process of US's nuclear command systems which takes about a minute to launch.

That said, question remains, if, in a world, divided politically and ideologically, could military preparedness be considered a wiser approach instead of dialogue and diplomacy?

First published: 7 January 2016, 7:01 IST
 
Ruchi Kumar @RuchiKumar

Ruchi Kumar is an Indian journalist living in Kabul with her cat Bukhari. On most days, she reports on the ongoings in the region. Rest of the time, she reads, writes and wanders around Kabul looking for people who will tell stories.

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