It's a cold winter for Russians. Turbulence in eastern Ukraine continues. Economic sanctions imposed by the West and falling global oil prices have pushed the Russian economy to the brink of collapse. Such a difficult situation hasn't been seen in years. Russian President Vladimir Putin has even had to scrap his ministers' New Year holidays, so that they can focus on reversing the dire situation.
Nevertheless, a full spectrum of countermeasures are being taken, and among them, the new Russian Federation Military Doctrine is one of the major moves.
The military doctrine is an official Russian formulation of concepts on the nature of present and future armed conflicts and the nation's reaction to such conflicts, given existing or anticipated geopolitical conditions. This new doctrine was signed by Putin on December 26 with several distinctive features.
Russia's geopolitical circumstances are deteriorating and NATO is its greatest external threat. NATO's actions such as its expansion toward the Russian border, its military buildup, the implementation of the "global strike"doctrine, and anti-patriotic propaganda aimed at the younger Russian generations are all nerve-jangling to Russians. Look at what happened in Ukraine. External forces could provide the means for dissidents and incite them to take actions to destabilize the situation in the country and harm the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Russia.
"Non-nuclear deterrence" measures are urgently needed. With various conventional and unconventional threats coming from both outside and inside of Russia, strong deterrence measures are not optional, but necessary. While maintaining an effective nuclear arsenal is still important, however, nukes alone are not enough to handle all the major threats Russia faces. New kinds of threats such as militia forces, terrorists, private military companies and cyber operations require a whole set of non-nuclear countermeasures. Building and utilizing such "non-nuclear deterrence" capabilities are emphasized in this updated version of the country's military doctrine.
For the first time, protecting the North Pole has been stipulated in military doctrine as one of the core missions of the Russian Armed Forces, and a new strategic military command covering the Arctic region has been established.
Besides, Russians believe that the spectrum of warfare will soon expand to outer space, therefore, seizing initiatives in this realm is critical. Thus, they are planning on building an Air-Space Force based on the traditional Air Force infrastructure and units.
To counter the pressure caused by NATO's enlargement, Russia has decided to take strong measures to keep its old friends close and promote military cooperation with new ones. Preventing Ukraine from joining NATO, strengthening ties with traditional allies, engaging with the separatist enclaves of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, promoting cooperation with the BRICS nations, and trying to come up with a new security concept for the Asia-Pacific region are all options. By these means, Russians are trying to find counterweights for its greatest security threat.
The doctrine is strong in rhetoric, yet defensive in nature. A strong military is, and will continue to be, the backbone of the Russian Federation. The more pressure the nation endures, the more important its military will be in sustaining national stability and providing a suitable environment for economic growth.