Vladimir PutinOn December 26, 2014, was adopted an updated version of the Russian military doctrine.  According to the updated military doctrine, the prevention of a nuclear war or any other type of conflict is core to Russia’s defense policy. “The prevention of a nuclear military conflict, as well as any other military conflict, constitutes the basis for Russia’s defense policy,” the doctrine reads according to Sputnik News.[1] The final decision to use nuclear weapons for warfare lies with the President of the Russian Federation, according to the document. Earlier in December, Russian President Vladimir Putin stressed it was important for the country to maintain its nuclear deterrence capability due to the growing number of security challenges.

President Vladimir Putin said on December 19, 2014 at a meeting with the top military brass in Moscow that "our military doctrine, which has an absolutely defensive nature, remains unchanged, although we will protect our security consistently and determinedly". He added that the international situation around Russia is not getting any less complicated, emphasizing that "you [all] are aware of the United States building layered ballistic missile defense system as well as of the increased activity of NATO, including in Europe and especially in Eastern Europe".[2]

The update to Russia’s military doctrine indicates that NATO's military buildup in Eastern Europe is regarded by Kremlin as being the key threat to Russian security.[3] This came after Kiev parliament's renunciation of Ukraine's neutral status this week, as a potentially decisive step toward joining NATO.

A NATO official quoted by Reuters said on December 26, 2014, that the Alliance respected the move made by Ukraine's parliament, and so should Russia. "Should Ukraine decide to apply for NATO membership, NATO will assess its readiness to join the Alliance in the same way as with any candidate. This is an issue between NATO and the individual countries aspiring to membership."[4]

Although "NATO poses no threat to Russia or to any nation"[5], according to Oana Lungescu, the main Spokesperson for the North Atlantic Alliance, in our opinion when Russia is saying NATO is a major threat to Russia's security, we are mainly speaking about a potent tool of political propaganda. Russia is simply trying to justify its increasingly ambitious and aggressive actions on the international arena and in the same time is trying to maintain the support of its population, deliberately boosting nationalism against an imaginary enemy. The declarations made by influential leaders in Moscow might also be a veiled – but quite clear – threat toward Ukraine and its plans to join, as soon as possible, the North Atlantic Alliance.

[1]"Russia’s New Military Doctrine Permits Retaliatory Nuclear Strike Only", Sputnik News, December 26, 2014, at the Internet address http://sputniknews.com/military/20141226/1016271354.html

[2]"Putin: Russia's Military Doctrine Remains Defensive Despite NATO Buildup",  Sputnik News, December 19, 2014, at the Internet address http://sputniknews.com/military/20141219/1016042570.html

[3]"Russian military doctrine calls NATO threat", Deutsche Welle, Decemeber 26, 2014, at the Internet address http://www.dw.de/russian-military-doctrine-calls-nato-threat/av-18153158

[4]"Russia's new military doctrine names NATO as key risk", Reuters,  December 26, 2014, at the Internet address http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/12/26/us-russia-crisis-military-doctrine-idUSKBN0K40Q120141226

[5]"NATO Poses No Threat to Russia, Seeks Constructive Relations: Spokesperson", Sputnik News, December 26, 2014, at the Internet address http://sputniknews.com/military/20141226/1016285928.html

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