Russia Issues New Foreign Policy Concept

The Russian government formally released a foreign policy concept July 10 that stresses maintenance of positive relations and continued cooperation with foreign governments, including outspoken support for a range of arms control-related initiatives. The new concept appears to be written in a more conciliatory, diplomatic tone than either the national security concept it is designed to complement or the recently issued military doctrine. (See ACT, January/February and May 2000.)

Formally signed by President Vladimir Putin June 28, the new document replaces the foreign policy concept issued in 1993. Much of the new concept deals directly with arms control and related issues, observing early on that "the threat of nuclear conflict has been reduced to a minimum." In this context, the concept not only notes Russia's "consent" to further negotiated strategic reductions but also reaffirms Moscow's interest in preserving the ABM Treaty and warns that U.S. deployment of missile defenses will compel Russia to adopt "adequate measures."

The concept stresses the importance of continued cooperation with NATO, although it also acknowledges present-day tensions between NATO and Russia. Perhaps most notably, the concept states that Russia "is prepared to overcome considerable latter-day difficulties in relations with the U.S….despite the presence of serious, and in a number of cases, fundamental differences." The concept goes on to note, "Above all, this concerns problems of disarmament, arms control, and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction," and argues against "allowing pauses in relations."

The concept also states Russia's interest in Indian and Pakistani accession to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, as well as Russia's support for nuclear-weapon-free zones in Asia. And it enunciates Moscow's support for reductions in conventional armed forces, particularly in the context of the Conventional Forces in Europe agreement.

The Russian press has widely praised the new concept for its pragmatism, particularly in its discussion of relations with the United States and NATO. However, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov noted at a July 10 news conference that "we do not intend to and will not relinquish our national interests."