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New Putin Doctrine Says U.S. Pressure 'Undermining' Global Stability

In 2015, U.S. President Barack Obama (right) issued a national-security strategy portraying Russia as a regional bully and a threat to global stability. Obama is seen here with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in September 2015.
In 2015, U.S. President Barack Obama (right) issued a national-security strategy portraying Russia as a regional bully and a threat to global stability. Obama is seen here with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in September 2015.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has endorsed a new foreign-policy doctrine accusing the United States and its allies of undermining "global stability" by trying to "contain" Russia.

Putin said that Moscow had the right to "react harshly to unfriendly" moves by Washington.

The doctrine, published by the Russian government on December 1, continues a steady ratcheting up of rhetoric toward the West in official policy documents amid a sharp deterioration in Moscow’s relations with the United States and the European Union in recent years.

Much of the language in the document mirrors that of Putin’s previous foreign-policy doctrine, endorsed in 2013, and of his national security strategy published in December 2015.

But the new doctrine raises the stakes when it comes to pressure on Moscow by the United States and its allies, which have targeted Russia with sanctions over its illegal annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014 and its military support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.

The doctrine states that the dangers of such pressure extend beyond Russia’s borders.

"The policy of the United States and its allies to contain Russia and apply political, economic, informational, and other pressure undermines regional and global stability," the document says.

Russia has long protested against moves by Washington to target Russian officials and citizens with sanctions and extraditions from third countries.

Moscow also accuses the United States of meddling in Russia's internal affairs.

The new doctrine provides more details about how Moscow could respond, saying Russia "does not accept attempts to apply military, political, economic, or other pressure and reserves the right to react harshly to unfriendly actions, including by strengthening national defenses and adopting tit-for-tat or asymmetrical measures."

The Kremlin and senior Russian officials have voiced optimism about the prospects of a rapprochement with Washington under the administration of President-elect Donald Trump.

Trump has spoken positively about Putin and said he would like to mend ties with Moscow and bolster counterterrorism cooperation.

Current U.S. President Barack Obama in 2015 issued a new national-security strategy portraying Russia as a regional bully and a threat to global stability, a drastic shift from the collaborative tone of the previous document released amid his "reset" policy with Moscow in 2010.

Russia's new foreign policy doctrine states that it is interested in building "mutually beneficial relations" with the United States, including in the economic and scientific spheres.

But it states that such cooperation is only possible on the basis of "equality, mutual respect of interests, and noninterference in one another's internal affairs."

The new doctrine leaves Russia's position on NATO largely unchanged, saying it is willing to work with the military alliance on the basis of an "equal partnership."

But it reiterates Moscow's anger over the steady expansion of NATO toward Russia's borders, which the alliance has repeatedly said does not constitute a threat to Russia.

The document accuses NATO of creating a 'serious crisis in relations between Russia and Western governments."

Like its predecessor, Putin's latest foreign policy doctrine calls for the elimination of a visa regime between Russia and the EU, describing the restriction as "one of the main barriers' to developing broad ties between the two sides.

Both the previous and the new foreign policy doctrine stress the importance of relations with Germany, France, and Italy.

The Netherlands was cited in the 2013 doctrine as well but was not mentioned in the new document.

An international probe led by Dutch investigators has determined that a Russian missile fired from territory held by Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine downed Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in July 2014, killing all 298 people on board.

In October, Russia summoned the Dutch ambassador in Moscow to complain about the finding.

Putin's previous foreign policy doctrine also singled out Britain as a potential key "channel" for cooperation with Europe.

Britain also was not mentioned in the latest document.

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    Carl Schreck

    Carl Schreck is an award-winning investigative journalist who serves as RFE/RL's enterprise editor. He has covered Russia and the former Soviet Union for more than 20 years, including a decade in Moscow. He has led investigations into corruption, cronyism, and disinformation campaigns in Russia and Central Asia, as well as on poisoning attacks against Kremlin opponents and assassinations of Iranian exiles in the West. Schreck joined RFE/RL in 2014.

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

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