A document with this or a bit different title was signed by each of the Russian presidents, in so doing, Boris Yeltzin signed it twice – in 1993 “Fundamental Principles of Foreign policy” and in 1997 “National Security Concept”.
The latest fundamental document determining the Russian Federation’s foreign policy was a concept approved by Putin on January 10, 2000. Although the present text seems similar to the previous one, it has distinct differences. In the opinion of experts, certain expressions highlight “more liberal nature” of the new policy while others emphasize the anti-Western nature.
The new document contains no description of the Russian Federation as “a Great Power”. The current version reads that “the strong and respectful positions in the world community” today meet the interests of Russia as “one of the influential centers of the modern world”.
Fyodor Lukyanov, Editor-in-Chief, Journal “Russia in Global Policy” believes that “the notion “Great Power” pertains neither to the legal sphere nor to the documentary one and its use is rather obsolete. To a greater extent it relates to the XIX and XX centuries rather than to the modern world”.
On the other hand, the document introduces a term of “new Russia” that organically fits in the picture of “the fundamental and dynamic changes” undergone by the modern world. Lukyanov believes: “The use of notion “New Russia” is surely necessary for clear differentiation between the Soviet and post-Soviet periods of our history”.
The new term closely correlates with indicative absence of any reference to the problem of nuclear arms reduction that was in the focus of the previous Concepts. According to Lukyanov, it is “a result of the last-eight-year-experience when certain states demonstrated the arbitrary use of force. The invasion of Iraq made many countries to revise their attitude to the nuclear weapon and regard it as a guarantee of non-use of force against them”.
Besides, authors of the document several times return to the difference of opinions about the democracy. The section devoted to the human rights stresses that Russia “is confined to the universal democratic values”. It also emphasizes the role of Moscow “in prevention of double-standard approaches, and respect of national and historical traditions of each nation in the course of its democratic transformation without imposition of foreign value systems”.
The sections devoted to relations of Russia with its neighbors, the USA and international institutions almost have not been amended. Russia is still opposes NATO expansion eastwards at the expense of Ukraine and Georgia. The section devoted to our relations with the nearest neighbors lacks an accustomed statement on the necessity to create “a good-neighborly belt” around the Russian Federation. A paragraph on the UN reform contains a new feature – instead of the wording on potential increase in the number of UN Security Council permanent members in 2000, we read a meaningful formula: “the status of five permanent members should be preserved”.
As quoted to the President “Russia is indeed stronger and able to assume greater responsibility for solving problems on a regional and global scale”. Moreover, the “the world is not just listening to Russia but looking to us for help with solving problems”.
Medvedev also urged the attendees to act more decisively to “resist the attempt of national or group interests to ignore international law”. According to him, Kosovo is an explicit example of international law violation. As quoted to him “it would certainly have been simpler for us to distance ourselves from this problem and say that, for the European Union, Kosovo is almost what Iraq has proved to be for the United States. But meanwhile, much more importantly, once again international law has been undermined…”.
He said that “ national security cannot simply be maintained on the basis of good faith”, therefore Russia and the USA should bear responsibility for provision of stability worldwide. “We strongly affirm that the deployment of elements of the global U.S. missile defense in Eastern Europe only exacerbates the situation. And I have already talked about this: we will be forced to respond to it in kind.”
At the same time the President pointed out in his speech that the West sill keeps the inertia of political and psychological attitude towards “containment” of Russia, including efforts to use a selective approach to the history for this purpose and first off all to the history of World War II and post-War period. The President said that “this is playing with fire”.
In such situation Dmitry Medvedev considers it extremely important to abandon the block system when countries provide their own or group interests being in conflict with other countries and groups. He is “convinced that with the end of Cold War the underlying reasons for most of bloc politics and bloc discipline simply disappeared. We simply do not need to return to that paternalistic system whereby some states decide for all the others. The behavior of states in the international arena is now much more varied and independent. But I would like to emphasize that this behavior should not involve actions that constitute a violation of international law.”
The Russian leader paid special attention to strengthening of cooperation within the Community of Independent States and development of ties practically with all countries of the world. In so doing, Russia will strengthen integration processes in the CIS and develop its cooperation with the member-states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) not only in the cultural and humanitarian spheres but also in the sphere of mutual security including joint efforts to meet common challenges and threats, and first of all to combat the international terror, drug trafficking and transnational crime.
The President believes that Russia should actively work with Belorussia and Kazakhstan within the framework of the Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEC) to establish the Customs Union and common economic space because this Community is a core of the economic integration.
Medvedev also mentioned the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) as “a key instrument for maintaining stability and security in the CIS space”.