Russia’s new National Security Strategy (NSS), signed into law by President Vladimir Putin on December 31, 2015, marks the culmination of a long process in deteriorating relations between Moscow and Washington and in how the Russian security elite perceives the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The security document itself must be assessed in this context, as well as with the understanding of how and why the new strategy was formulated. The Kremlin explicitly denoting the United States and NATO as threats to Russia’s security has longer-term implications concerning the limits of future cooperation (see EDM, January 4, 5, 7).
According to Russian law, the NSS must be updated every six years. As the previous version was signed by then-president Dmitry Medvedev on May 12, 2009, the new NSS had to be completed by the end of 2015 (Vesti, October 22, 2015). Drafting the NSS is conducted under the Russian Security Council (SC). The first signs of its activity occurred in February and March 2015, following the United States releasing its own 2015 NSS. The SC was clearly working toward revising the Russian NSS throughout the year: reportedly, Putin officially ordered its adjustment on July 3, 2015. Putin told the SC that Russia must implement systemic measures to respond to the changing situation in the world. By October 2015, the SC Press Service confirmed that the council’s interdepartmental commission for strategic planning had reviewed the NSS. Two months of tinkering followed before the draft NSS was sent to Putin, who, in turn, delayed signing it into law until the last day of 2015 (RBK, December 31, 2015).
Earlier, the Russian SC met in March 2015 to review the US NSS. The main conclusion was that the US document is inherently “anti-Russian” with its repeated references to “Russian aggression.” Predictably, Moscow objected to the interpretation of the Ukraine crisis as outlined in the US NSS. Dmitry Peskov, the Presidential Press Secretary, said that “all threats to Russia’s national security will be considered and dealt with and, if necessary, be amended in the founding documents.”