It’s no secret that relations between Moscow and the West have deteriorated the post-Cold War lows.
The annexation of Crimea and the conflict in Ukraine have pushed the two sides to the brink of a Baltic battle while Russia’s intervention in Syria changed the West’s calculus when it comes to pushing for regime change in the Mid-East.
Earlier this year, in a hilariously accurate assessment of US foreign policy, Vladimir Putin’s Security Council issued a statement entitled "About The US National Security Strategy". Here are some notable excerpts (translated):
The armed forces are considered as the basis of US national security and military superiority is considered a major factor in the American world leadership. While maintaining the continuity of the plants to use military force unilaterally and anywhere in the world, as well as to maintain a military presence abroad...
Significant efforts by the US and its allies will be directed to the formation of anti-Russian policy states, with which Russia has established partnership relations, as well as to reduce Russian influence in the former Soviet Union.
Continue the policy of preserving the global dominance of the United States, increasing the combat capabilities of NATO, as well as to strengthen the US military presence in the Asia-Tihokeanskom region. Military force will continue to be considered as the primary means of ensuring national security and interests of the United States.
Becoming more widespread to eliminate unwanted US political regimes acquire advanced technology "color revolutions" with a high probability of their application in relation to Russia.Thus, the strategy was developed on the basis of American exceptionalism, the right to take unilateral action to protect and promote the interests of the United States in the world and bears the active anti-Russian charge.
In other words, Moscow views US foreign policy as decidedly Russophobic and The Kremlin pretty clearly sees Washington as a threat to Russia’s security. Well on New Year’s Eve, Vladimir Putin made it official by signing a new appraisal of his country’s national security which, for the first time, lists the US as a threat. Here’s Reuters:
The document, "About the Strategy of National Security of Russian Federation", was signed by President Vladimir Putin on New Year's Eve. It replaces a 2009 version, endorsed by then- President Dmitry Medvedev, the current prime minister, which mentioned neither the United States not NATO.
It says Russia has managed to heighten its role in solving global problems and international conflicts. That heightened role has caused a reaction by the West.
"The strengthening of Russia happens against the background of new threats to the national security, which has complex and interrelated nature," the document goes on to note.
Conducting an independent policy, "both international and domestic" has caused "counteraction from the USA and its allies, which are striving to retain their dominance in global affairs."
That in turn is likely to lead to "political, economical, military and informational pressure on Russia."
The document also implicates Washington in staging "anti-constitutional coup d'etat in Ukraine", which is of course true. The result: a protracted civil war and a US puppet government that is less popular than its Russia-backed predecessor.
The document also reiterates Russia's concerns about the expansion and strengthening of NATO. Here's an excerpt:
The buildup of the military potential of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and vesting it with global functions implemented in violations of norms of international law, boosting military activity of the bloc’s countries, further expansion of the alliance, the approach of its military infrastructure to Russian borders create a threat to the national security.”
The references are to the multiple war games and snap drills NATO has conducted near Russia's borders over the past nine months and to the inclusion of Montenegro in the alliance (documented here).
Of course one doesn't necessarily have to interpret the document in the way the Western media has. Compare and contrast the following two headlines, the first from Reuters and the second from Sputnik:
- Russia Outlines Priorities in Relations with US, EU and NATO
- Putin names United States among threats in new Russian security strategy
Those two pieces refer to the very same document although you wouldn't know it by what's implied. Here are some excerpts from the Sputnik piece:
The strategy defines main venues of Russia-US partnership on the global arena as the improvement of mechanisms of arms controls, the strengthening of mutual trust measures, joint efforts in the area of WMD non-proliferation, expanded cooperation in the fight against terrorism as well as in the resolution of regional conflicts.
"Russia supports the strengthening of mutually-beneficial cooperation with the European countries, the European Union…with the goal of developing a transparent system of collective security in the Euro-Atlantic region based on clearly-defined legal agreements," the text of the document, posted on Thursday on the government's legal information portal, says.
According to the document, Russia continues to view NATO expansion and military activities near Russian borders as a major threat to its security and a violation of international laws, but is ready to develop relations with the Alliance in the interests of the European security.
The takeaway here probably isn't whether or not the US is listed as a "threat" to Russia's national security but rather that The Kremlin if officially recognizing Russia's role in a kind of new world order wherein all matters of geopolitical significance are no longer decided in Washington.
In other words, the era of unipolarity and US hegemony (which has lasted nearly a quarter century) has come to an end and Russia's discussion of the backlash from the US and NATO isn't so much an effort to cast aspersions (i.e. to call this country or that country "a threat") as it is to outline and assess the new reality.