Russian President Vladimir Putin has approved a new national-security strategy accusing the United States of trying to “contain” Russia through “political, economic, military, and informational pressure” and blaming Washington for the war in Ukraine.
The 40-page document, approved by Putin and published December 31, reflects the sharp decline in Russia’s ties with the West since the previous iteration, approved in May 2009 at the outset of U.S. President Barack Obama’s “reset” policy with Moscow.
The previous version mentioned the United States only three times and limited its criticism of the West largely to U.S. plans for a missile-defense shield in Europe and what it called NATO encroachment toward Russia’s borders.
The new document accuses the West for of trying to use “levers of tension in the Eurasian region: to damage Russia’s “national interests.” As an example, it specifically cites the ousting of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, a Kremlin ally, in February 2014. The United States has rejected previousaccusations that it was behind the protests in Ukraine or Yanukovych's ouster.
“The support of the United States and the European Union of an unconstitutional government coup in Ukraine has led to a deep schism in Ukrainian society and the outbreak of armed conflict,” says the new strategy document, which was published on the Kremlin’s website.
Yanukovych fled to Russia amid antigovernment protests that month, triggering events that led to the Kremlin’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula and a war between Russia-backed separatists and Kyiv’s forces in eastern Ukraine that the UN says has killed more than 9,000 since April 2014.
The events in Ukraine, where a pro-Western government took power, has plunged Russia’s ties with the West to depths unseen since the fall of the Soviet Union. Both Washington and Brussels have imposed sanctions against Russia in response to its interference in Ukraine.
Kyiv, the United States, the European Union, and NATO accuse Russia of providing separatists in eastern Ukraine with money, weapons, and personnel, a charge the Kremlin denies despite significant evidence supporting the allegations.
The new Russian security strategy’s escalation in tone concerning relations with the West echoes that of a new U.S. security strategy unveiled by the White House in February.
That document portrays Russia as a regional bully threatening international stability, in sharp contrast to Obama’s 2010 national security strategy, which said Washington “seeks to build a stable, substantive, multidimensional relationship with Russia, based on mutual interests."
The U.S. Defense Department in July also sharply criticized Russia in its first updated national military strategy since 2011, saying Moscow has “repeatedly demonstrated that it does not respect the sovereignty of its neighbors and it is willing to use force to achieve its goals,” adding that “Russia’s military actions are undermining regional security directly and through proxy forces.”
Putin ordered his Security Council to update its national security strategy within days of the release of the Pentagon document.
Some language he used at that meeting is identical to the text of the document he signed December 31, including the “political,” “economic,” and “informational” threats the new security strategy says Russia faces from the United States and its allies.
The new strategy document devotes nearly 20 sections to boosting the capabilities of Russia’s armed forces and state security more broadly, as well as a handful of sections to improving the economy, citizens’ lives, health care, science and education, and the environment.
With reporting by RFE/RL’s Russian Service