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Russia unveils tough new security strategy

By MARTIN SIEFF, UPI Senior News Analyst

WASHINGTON, May 14 (UPI) -- Russia has approved a new national-security strategy that, while short in detail, visualizes more than a decade of suspicious confrontation with the United States and its NATO allies.

The new doctrine, unveiled Wednesday by President Dmitry Medvedev, appears to have been greatly influenced by Russian anger over U.S. President Barack Obama's continued support for the former Soviet republic of Georgia in the Caucasus. The Russian army conquered one-third of Georgia in a blitzkrieg attack in only five days last August. But this month, NATO forces are carrying out military maneuvers with unarmed troops in Georgia, angering the Russians who for 190 years ruled the Caucasus until the collapse of the Soviet Union at the end of 1991.

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The new national-security strategy warns that Russia's security is threatened by policies being followed by "a number of leading countries, aimed at achieving military supremacy, primarily in nuclear forces," RIA Novosti reported Wednesday.

The new strategy also states that threats to Russia can come from other countries breaking arms-control agreements. This could refer to the United States, which under the Bush administration announced that it was no longer barred by the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty from developing its own defenses against intercontinental ballistic missiles carrying nuclear warheads. It also appears to refer to the Russian position that Moscow is no longer bound by the 1990 Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty that was concluded between the United States and the Soviet Union.

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RIA Novosti noted that the full text of the new national-security doctrine has already been published on the official Web site of the Russian Security Council.

The news service also quoted an interview that Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev, a tough hard-liner close to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, gave to Moscow newspaper Izvestia, in which he said the Russian government had to focus on "achieving an array of strategic national priorities" that cover national economic development creating high-tech industries, upgrading military forces and achieving "decent living standards."

Patrushev went out of his way to criticize what he said were continued programs by NATO to project its power and increase its military forces. NATO troops are currently operating out of theater combating the resurgent Islamic extremist Taliban in Afghanistan. Patrushev criticized NATO's efforts to create an expanded global role for itself.

Patrushev did not rule out the defusing of tensions with between Russia and the United States and NATO. But he said that could only happen if the United States and NATO started treating Russia as an equal partner and agreed to only use their forces in accordance with international law. In practice, that would mean only using U.S. and NATO forces around the world in operations approved by the U.N. Security Council, where Russia has veto power as one of the five permanent members.

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The new strategy was also of significance in that it formally prioritized the importance of what it called global environmental and energy security for Russia. Russia is the world's largest combined exporter of oil and gas and the second-largest individual exporter of oil after Saudi Arabia. Successive Russian governments have also worked hard and with great success to try to ensure that oil and gas pipelines out of the Caspian Sea basin, the world's second-largest reservoir of cheap, easily accessible, high-quality oil and gas, remain almost totally under Russian control or influence.

The new strategy also encompasses recent ambitious plans documented in these columns for Russia to deploy major conventional armed forces, sea and land forces to assert and maintain its rights to the newly accessible energy and mineral riches of the continental shelf of the Arctic Ocean.

The unveiling of the tough new strategy came only five days before Russian and American diplomats are due to meet May 18-20 for three days of talks in Moscow to launch the negotiating process for a new strategic arms-reduction treaty to replace the 1991 START-1 treaty, which runs out at the end of this year.

Obama and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are eager to conclude such a treaty with Moscow, but the Russians want to rein in NATO support for Georgia and Ukraine and to make sure two proposed U.S. ballistic missile defense bases in Central Europe are scrapped first.

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