Military doctrine of Russia

Military doctrine of Russia

Military Doctrine of the Russian Federation is one of the main strategic planning documents in Russia and represents a system of officially state adopted views of preparation for the armed protection of Russia. The most recent edition of the military doctrine was signed by President Dmitry Medvedev on 5 February 2010.[1]

Numerous successive Military Doctrines have been promulgated since 1990. These have included the military doctrines of May 1992 (in draft form), November 1993, and January 2000, as well as the two National Security Concepts of December 1997 and October 1999. Military doctrine in the Russian sense, however, extends beyond discussion of potential threats. In Christopher Donnelly's words, it forms part of 'a set of views, accepted in a country at a given time, which cover the aims and character of possible war, the preparations of the country and its armed forces for such war, and the methods of waging it'.[2]


1992 draft

The 1992 draft doctrine showed that first Russian thoughts on external threats were little more than a replica of Soviet thinking. The document stated that while the threat of a world war had declined significantly, the 'sources of military danger' in international relations remained the same as under the USSR.

The first of those 'sources of military danger' was given as: 'the eagerness of single States or coalitions of states to dominate in the world community or in individual regions, and their predilection for settling matters in dispute by military means'.[3]

There could be little doubt that the General Staff, who produced the paper, had the United States and NATO in mind when they wrote this. As slightly further down, it was stated that Russia did not regard any state or coalition as an enemy, a contraction had been introduced between the old and the new, evolving security environment.[4] 'Powerful groupings of armed forces' near Russia's borders, 'certain states' military build-up, international terrorism, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction were also mentioned. Russia also subtlety rescinded its nuclear no first use commitment by indicating that conventional attacks on nuclear weapons, power plants, 'and other potentially dangerous facilities' (presumably chemical or biological sites) would be regarded as a first use of weapons of mass destruction.

1993 Military Doctrine

The Russian Federation Supreme Soviet (as it was then) refused to approve the 1992 draft. A new military doctrine only entered into force in November 1993, and was not made fully public; the summary released covered 21 of the 23 pages of the document. No reason was given for the only-partial release of the text, and this gave rise to fears that the Russian Government and/or its military wished to conceal controversial or discreditable intentions.[5]

The summary released showed major differences from the external threats thinking of the 1992 draft. Two main threads showed through the list. Firstly was the remaining threat from the West, exemplified by worries over expansion of military blocs and violation of arms accords, as well as with interference with Russians abroad. The no-first-use commitment of nuclear weapons was dropped. Secondly, newer dangers were acknowledged; nearby internal wars, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and terrorism.[6]

In keeping with its emphasis on the threat of regional conflicts, the doctrine called for Russian armed forces that were smaller, lighter, and more mobile, with a higher degree of professionalism and with greater rapid deployment capability. Such change proved extremely difficult to achieve.

2000 Military Doctrine

Both in the 1992 draft and in the 1993 official document, a distinction had been drawn between sources of external military danger and immediate military threats. This distinction disappeared in the most recent doctrinal statement, which was first publicised in draft form in October 1999, and then finally approved by Presidential decree in late April 2000.[7]

While numerous changes were made to the document between its draft stage and final form, the section on external military threats remained virtually the same.[8] The first threat is seen as territorial claims upon the Russian Federation and interference in Russian domestic affairs, language drawn directly from the 1993 external dangers section. Secondly mentioned was disregard for Russian concerns in international conflict resolution, and opposition to strengthening Russia as one centre of a multipolar world. The multipolarity reference echos deleted sections from the 1999 draft, where two contradictory tendencies were set out: at one end, a trend toward a unipolar world based on the domination of one superpower - clearly the United States - and the military resolution of key problems, and at the other, a tendency toward the formation of a multipolar world, based on the rule of international law and the equal rights of people and nations.[9]

2010 Military Doctrine

Russia's 2010 military doctrine defines itself as strictly defensive.[10]

The doctrine[11] points out 11 actions seen as constituting "external dangers" (Russian: "опасности" opasnosti dangers) to the Russian Federation which include:

  • striving to give NATO forces global functions, moving NATO infrastructure closer to Russia's borders
  • attempt to destabilize the situation in various states and regions and undermine strategic stability
  • deployment of foreign military contingents in countries and waters adjacent to Russia and its allies
  • deployment of strategic anti-missile defense systems, undermining global stability, and violating the established nuclear balance of forces, the militarization of space, and deployment of non-nuclear precision weapons;
  • territorial claims against Russia and its allies and interference in internal affairs
  • spread of weapons of mass destruction, missiles and missile technology, increase in the number of nuclear states
  • violation by some states of international agreements and non-compliance with previously concluded arms limitation and reduction treaties
  • use of military force in adjacent states in violation of the UN Charter and other international legal norms
  • presence of sources and escalation of military conflict in territories adjacent to Russia and it allies
  • spread of international terrorism
  • occurrence of sources of inter-ethnic (inter-faith) tensions, activity of international armed radical groups in areas adjacent to Russia and its allies, growth of separatism and forcible extremism in various regions of the world

It also lists five actions seen as constituting military threats:

  • a sharpening of the military-political situation and creation of conditions for the use of military force
  • hindrance of the working of the state and military command and control system, interference in the functioning of its strategic nuclear forces, missile attack warning systems, space monitoring systems, nuclear warhead storage facilities, nuclear power and other potentially dangerous facilities
  • creation and training of illegal armed formations and their activity on Russian territory or that of its allies
  • demonstration of force in the course of conducting exercises in states adjacent to Russia or its allies with provocative intent
  • activation of military forces in various states with the conduct of partial or full mobilization and transition to wartime footing

Under the new doctrine, Russia continues to develop and modernize its nuclear capability. "Russia reserves the right to use nuclear weapons in response to the use of nuclear and other types of weapons of mass destruction against it or its allies, and also in case of aggression against Russia with the use of conventional weapons when the very existence of the state is threatened."[12]


  1. ^ "Russia’s new military doctrine approved". Retrieved 6 February 2010. 
  2. ^ Christopher Donnelly, Red Banner: The Soviet Military System in Peace and War, Jane's Information Group, Coulsdon, Surrey, 1988, p.106.
  3. ^ Fundamentals of Russia's Military Doctrine (Draft), Voennaya Mysl, May 1992, JPRS-UMT-92-008-L, 16 June 1992, p.2
  4. ^ Charles Dick, The Military Doctrine of the Russian Federation, CSRC Occasional Brief 25, Conflict Studies Research Centre, RMA Sandhurst, November 1993, p.13
  5. ^ Charles Dick, The Military Doctrine of the Russian Federation, CSRC Occasional Brief 25, Conflict Studies Research Centre, RMA Sandhurst, November 1993, p.1-2
  6. ^ The Basic Provisions of the Military Doctrine of the Russian Federation, 1993, Rossiiskie Vesti, 18 Nov 1993 via FBIS-SOV-93-222-S,, p.5.
  7. ^ Text of Military Doctrine of the Russian Federation, approved by a presidential decree dated 21 April 2000, via BBC Monitoring, Caversham Park, Reading.
  8. ^ Dr S Main, Russia's Military Doctrine, CSRC Occasional Brief 77, April 2000, p.1
  9. ^ Draft Military Doctrine of the Russian Federation, Krasnaya Zvezda, 9 October 1999, p.3-4 FBIS Translation, Section 1.1.
  10. ^ "Russian president approves new military doctrine". Retrieved 6 February 2010. 
  11. ^ (in Russian)
  12. ^

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