Russian President Vladimir Putin has just signed his Security Strategy for 2016. The existing document was updated after Russian officials decided that the military and sociopolitical landscape has changed rapidly in recent months, and therefore key points needed to be tweaked so that Russia could move forward with confidence.
“The Strategy is a key strategic planning document that establishes the national interests and strategic national priorities of the Russian Federation.”
The new document replaces a 2009 version that was signed by former president Dmitry Medvedev, according to NY Daily News. The old document did not mention either the United States or NATO, while the new one cites both actors as a threat to Russia and its interests.
The document even states the Russian administration’s beliefs about why the new threat has emerged. It says Russia has developed a larger role in solving global problems and international conflicts — probably a reference to the recent Syrian war, Putin’s Ukrainian debacle, and Putin’s scuffles in the Arctic as he battles for the region’s oil.
According to the strategy plan, Russia’s “heightened role” in world affairs has caused an undesirable reaction by the West. Russia’s belief is that the U.S. and NATO will inevitably seek to “constrain” them.
“The document acknowledges that the strengthening of Russia, its independent foreign and internal policy prompts the U.S. and its allies to initiate counteraction, as they are striving to maintain their dominant position in the world. Thus they pursue a policy of constraint of Russia, which envisages exerting political, economic, military and information pressure.”
Russian officials observe that the U.S. will strive “to maintain their dominant position” now that Russia is flexing its muscles again.
Relations between the United States and Russia became tense in 2014 when Russian forces took control of Crimea, annexing a section of land owned by Ukraine. Washington opposed the aggressive move, and also accused Russia of backing separatists in fraught segments of the Ukraine. Russia denied the charge.
In fact, Russia accuses the United States and European Union of supporting an “anti-constitutional coup d’etat,” in Ukraine, according to The Hill.
Russia and the U.S. also clashed over their approaches to the conflict in Syria, with Putin propping up his ally, Syrian President Bashar Assad. The Obama administration was committed to ousting Assad, and had backed moderate rebels who were fighting against the Syrian leader. Tensions escalated when Putin’s pro-Assad fighters began attacking those U.S.-backed rebels.
Russia considers “schisms in Ukrainian society” a major threat to its security and will stand no opposition as it attempts to curtail threats thought to be stemming from that area, according to Sputnik News.
The new Putin-approved strategy document also cites the expansion of NATO as a threat, according to The Hill.
Intriguingly, Putin also seems to be worried about a U.S. “network of military-biological laboratories” in countries adjacent to Russia.
RT reported six months ago that Moscow was accusing Washington of going back on its pledge to rid the wold of biological weapons. It was alleged that the United States had shipped live samples of deadly anthrax to several labs around the U.S. and in some foreign countries.
One of Russia’s neighbors, Georgia, hosts a research facility for high-level biohazard agents, and the Russians were reportedly worried about the U.S. sample finding its way so close to Russian shores.
It gets worse — Russia also believes that America has set up a whole network of “undercover” bioweapons labs that encircle Russia. For example, a facility called The Richard G. Lugar Center for Public and Animal Health Research is believed, by Putin, to be an undercover American bioweapons lab.
So what does Putin plan to do to protect himself from the U.S. threat? Taking the document at face value, it seems Putin will move toward “ensuring Russia’s food independence” by reducing food imports to eliminate the chance of U.S.-planted toxins or diseases entering his country.
This will require the accelerated development of Russia’s agriculture, and increased government support for agribusiness. It is not surprising that Putin added this element to his publicly-available strategy plan — it is one area where the interests of the Russian leader and his long-suffering people definitely intersect. By publicly announcing a desire to protect ordinary Russians, Putin has killed two birds with one stone, winning support from agribusiness factions and the trust of ordinary people, while fanning distrust of the United States and concealing any additional moves he intends to make under the radar.
The new strategy plan announces Putin’s desire to “prevent the uncontrolled traffic of GMO foods, and also [to] train highly prepared specialists for the agricultural sector.”
On the subject of how he will fight NATO and the U.S. in the military sphere, Putin is understandably less forthcoming, speaking only of “the potential of secret services being utilized more actively.”
Does Putin have something sinister hidden up his sleeve? Is the U.S. encircling Russia with a network of sinister bioweapons labs?
[Image via Kremlin.ru/Wikimedia]