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The Evolution of the Russian Perception of a Western Threat, 1993-2023

Sarah Slye | Critique | January 13, 2023

Part I


Changes to the Russian perception of a Western threat can be roughly traced through a textual analysis of the major strategic documents outlining the Russian state’s evolving views on foreign policy and national defense and security. This article reviews successive versions of the Foreign Policy Concept (FPC), National Security Concept (NSC), Military Doctrine (MD) and Information Security Doctrine (ISD) of the Russian Federation to provide a sketch of how the “official” Russian perception of a Western threat has evolved over the past thirty years. Focusing primarily on the texts themselves, it does not delve deeply into context or evaluate the extent to which the Russians’ perceptions may or may not have been grounded in reality. Nor does this article put forward any particular argument. It is a purely descriptive exercise. The first part covers 1993 through 2000.



In the early 1990s, the Kremlin struck a hopeful tone regarding the potential for harmonious and productive relations with the Western states and other countries, especially through cooperation in the United Nations and other international organizations, the observance of international legal norms and productive participation in joint peacekeeping operations. Russia wanted Western support in its transition to a free democratic state and dynamic modern economy (FPC 1993, MD 1993), promised to engage other countries on the basis of “equitable and mutually beneficial interstate relations” (MD 1993) and expressed willingness to cooperate with NATO (FPC 1993). Russian policymakers even suggested the possibility of allied relations with the United States (FPC 1993) amid talk of joining NATO.[i]


Nonetheless, the vast state was already betraying a skittishness about the possibility of its neighbors looking elsewhere for support and mutual benefit. Russian policymakers explicitly wanted to prevent Eastern Europe from becoming a buffer zone between Russia and the West and voiced concern over the potential for geopolitical encirclement by way of neighboring countries turning towards those states with which they shared cultural, religious or economic connections (FPC 1993). Moreover, however much they coveted American regard and support in the form of a “strategic partnership,” the Russians could not help but conceive of the USA as a country intent on maintaining its leading position and transforming itself into the world’s “only superpower.” And they expected particular obstruction to their aims in the area of disarmament from America’s “rightwing conservative circles.” (FPC 1993) Meanwhile, this Leviathan yet wobbly from its recent hatching was mainly focused on preserving its (as the Russians saw it anyway) unity and territorial integrity; dealing with border area conflicts and ensuring stability in the ring of states around it, particularly the CIS countries (FPC 1993, MD 1993). Notably, the Russians expected that tensions would arise in U.S.-Russian relations over conflict situations along Russia’s borders and were already voicing suspicions that the USA might use the cover of mediation and peacebuilding efforts to supplant Russia in the countries of its “traditional influence.” (FPC 1993)


A vital area in which Russian leaders sought to ensure their national security was with regard to nuclear power. For this they saw it as necessary to concentrate “full control over the nuclear arsenal of the former USSR in the hands of Russia” (FPC 1993), a process that was carried out successfully with the generous assistance of the United States and Western countries.[ii] No specific mention of information security or information warfare was made in the two major documents from this period (FPC 1993 and MD 1993)—although the wish to exchange information with the United States (FPC 1993) and other countries (MD 1993) was stated, as well as the need for the provision of information to Russian forces and “openness in relations with the public and the mass media.” (MD 1993)



If the sources of potential external dangers and threats to Russia were articulated rather vaguely in the early nineties, we can see through the lens of the “National Security Concept of the Russian Federation” of 1997 that, by the end of the decade, the Kremlin had begun to consider unnamed foreign states, foreign intelligence services and international organizations as threats to Russia’s security, especially with regard to the potential of destabilizing interethnic relations within its multiethnic state structure. While Russian leaders saw the “most real threat to Russia” in the area of defense as “existing and potential hotbeds of local wars and armed conflicts close to its state border,” they were now accusing unspecified foreign states and international organizations of “deliberate and purposeful interference” in the internal life of Russia’s peoples. They also believed the threat was increasing of foreign intelligence services penetrating into Russia and emphasized the growing “significance of counter-intelligence activity in safeguarding the Russian Federation’s national security.” In light of this worry, Russians now thought it an “undoubted priority” to “ensure the inviolability of borders and the territorial integrity of the state and to protect its constitutional system against possible encroachments by other states.” (NSC 1997)


Although the United States and other Western countries were not directly indicated in this document as sources of these perceived threats to Russia’s constitutional order and territorial integrity, and though the Russians still stressed how much they valued “equal partnership relations” with the USA and other leading powers, they did firmly state their hostility to the prospect of NATO expansion eastward, calling this a threat to Russia’s security and warning in so many words that, even without aggressive intent towards Russia, any such expansion could only lead to trouble in Europe (creating “the threat of a new split”). Moreover, Russian leaders expressed their clear intention to consolidate Russia as a “global power” in the sense of being “an influential center in the multipolar world” and voiced concern about how, in their view, the strengthening trend toward a multipolar world was being undermined by the attempts of “other states” to counter Russia’s consolidation as an influential center in it and to force “one-sided” solutions to world problems (NSC 1997).


This shift in threat perception was tied in part to the way Russians evaluated NATO actions in the Balkans during the mid-1990s and their opposition to the alliance’s plans for allowing the accession of new members being developed around that time.[iii] Among other things, it also appears related to the Russian leadership’s assertions of disappointment in the insufficient efficacy and usage of the multilateral organizations (UN, OSCE, CIS) to which Russia belonged for maintaining peace and security, and Russian leaders said they would push for these organizations’ maximum involvement in peacekeeping efforts. As for nuclear policy, the use of nuclear weapons was to be reserved for cases of existential threat to “the Russian Federation as an independent sovereign state.” And with regard to information warfare, the Russians (recently schooled in Chechnya) now expressed their interest in the significance of the “informational sphere,” if only in what may seem to us today an almost “primitive” sense: ensuring citizens’ rights to the free exchange of information, developing modern telecommunications technologies, etc. Curiously, they categorically rejected the “use of information to manipulate mass consciousness.” (NSC 1997)



In 1999 NATO initiated a military campaign aimed at stopping an ethnic cleansing unfolding at the hands of Yugoslav forces in Kosovo, a province seeking independence from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (which had not yet been admitted to the United Nations).[iv] The important fact that the IMF, whose largest contributor was the USA, had effectively supplied Russia with the major financial support it needed to stay afloat through the 1990s (and to, albeit indirectly, prosecute its war against Chechnya)—and the crucial fact that the USA and Western countries declined to intervene when the Russians perpetrated war crimes and other massive human rights violations in Chechnya (accepting Moscow’s internal affair and territorial integrity arguments)—hardly deterred many Russians from imagining that NATO’s humanitarian intervention in Kosovo really meant a potential threat to Russia itself. Surely, the humanitarian argument could be turned against them, they thought.[v] In official rhetoric though, the Russian leadership framed its inmost perturbation about the whole affair as principled resistance to the decision of powerful Western countries to undertake a military operation against a “sovereign state” without the authorization of the UN Security Council (which, of course, would have required Russian consent).[vi] Their consternation over this “spit in the face,” in which they felt the USA and West so “flippantly” asserted their superiority, was reflected in the next wave of strategic documents.[vii]


Although in the early 1990s, the disappearance of the “bipolar” world system was mentioned in the Foreign Policy Concept (1993), the terms “multipolar” and “unipolar” did not appear in this document or the Military Doctrine (1993). Starting in 1997, however, the term “multipolar” appears with increasing frequency across strategic documents (National Security Concept 1997 [4],  Foreign Policy Concept 2000 [1], National Security Concept 2000 [3], Military Doctrine 2000 [1] and Information Security Doctrine 2000 [1]), and in 2000 it is accompanied by the terms “bipolar” (NSC 2000 [1]) and “unipolar” (FPC 2000[1]). This terminological development reflects the hardening conviction among Russian elites not only that the Russian Federation’s rightful place in the world was as one of the leading centers of a multipolar world, indeed, as “one of the most influential centers of the modern world” (FPC 2000), but also that the security of the international order depended on its occupation of this place.


This point of view is made quite clear in the “National Security Concept of the Russian Federation” of 2000, which reads as follows: “A number of states are stepping up efforts to weaken Russia politically, economically, militarily and in other ways. Attempts to ignore Russia's interests when solving major issues of international relations, including conflict situations, are capable of undermining international security, stability, and the positive changes achieved in international relations. ... Russia's national interests in the international sphere lie in upholding its sovereignty and strengthening its position as a great power and as one of the influential centers of a multipolar world...” (NSC 2000) Naturally, the alleged attempts by “other states” to oppose Russia’s strengthening as “one of the influential centers of a multipolar world, “to hinder” its ability to exercise its national interests and to “weaken its position” were also considered a threat to its own national security (NSC 2000).


But who were these other states? If in 1997, the national security concept only alluded to the United States and Western countries as a counterforce to Russia’s goal of consolidating as a great power and major center of influence, starting in 2000 the United States is expressly characterized as the chief beneficiary of efforts to establish a unipolar global structure wherein it would dominate economically and politically (FPC 2000). The other winners of these attempts to create this new structure “designed for unilateral solutions” were the Western countries led by the USA (FPC 2000). The Russian Federation, by contrast, is described as having the goal of aspiring to help the world reflect its diversity through the achievement of the “multipolar system of international relations.” (FPC 2000)


The Russians’ indignation over the way the crises in the Balkans were handled was also reflected in a number of statements in these documents which referred to: i) the destabilization potential of unilateral action (FPC 2000), ii) “the use of power methods bypassing existing international legal mechanisms” (FPC 2000), iii) “attempts to belittle the role of a sovereign state as the fundamental element of international relations” (FPC 2000), iv) attempts to weaken or “belittle” the role of the United Nations and UN Security Council (FPC 2000, MD 2000, NSC 2000) and v) the unacceptability of attempts to introduce into the international parlance such concepts as “humanitarian intervention” and “limited sovereignty” to justify unilateral power actions (FPC 2000, MD 2000).


As for NATO, the Russians said they would cooperate with the alliance depending on how well it complied with the obligations of the “Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security between NATO and the Russian Federation” of 27 May 1997 but that the organization’s actions did not “coincide” with Russia’s security interests and they retained their negative attitude towards its expansion (FPC 2000). Furthermore, they included NATO’s eastward expansion and the possible emergence of “foreign military bases and major military presences in the immediate proximity of Russian borders” as factors threatening Russia’s national security and insisted that NATO’s “practice of using military force outside its zone of responsibility and without UN Security Council sanction could destabilize the entire global strategic situation.” (NSC 2000)


Beyond a slight shift in tone though, there was not a major change to Russia’s nuclear policy between 1997 and 2000. Whereas in the early 1990s the hope had been expressed that all nuclear weapons might eventually be eliminated (MD 1993), this kumbaya notion is absent in the strategic documents of 1997 and 2000. And, notwithstanding subtle vacillations, Russian elites consistently considered it essential to maintain the capacity for deterrence (MD 1993, NSC 1997, NSC 2000, MD 2000), only planning to use nuclear weapons in defensive scenarios where the Russian state found itself in existential danger (NSC 1997) or if it was under attack and all other avenues of conflict resolution had been exhausted (NSC 2000). Russian decision-makers also reserved the right to use nuclear weapons to defend their allies if nuclear weapons or other WMDs were used against them (MD 2000) but they promised to refrain from using nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states party to the 1968 NPT (“Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons”)—unless they were receiving support from a state with nuclear weapons in an offensive military action against the Russian Federation or its allies (MD 1993, MD 2000). Although the Russians did not really expect any major war involving nuclear weapons at that time or in the foreseeable future, in 2000 they did specify the United States and NATO as potential sources for concern (MD 2000, NSC 2000). Moreover, they worried a local or regional war could rapidly escalate into a global nuclear conflagration (FPC 2000, MD 2000).


Arguably of greater significance than any minor developments in Russia’s nuclear policy was the Russian elite’s fresh articulation of their traditional concern about information security.[viii] Reflecting both recent developments and the shape of things to come, a powerful theme to emerge in the strategic documents of 2000 was the need for Russia to defend its national security interests in the information sphere—defined in the “Information Security Doctrine of the Russian Federation” of 2000 as “a set of information, information infrastructure and entities that collect, form, disseminate and use information, as well as systems for regulating the resulting social relations.”[ix] As this definition’s specific phrasing suggests, while due attention was certainly paid in Russia’s strategic documents at this juncture to the material dimension of information security (safeguarding state secrets, improving and protecting infrastructure, data encryption, etc.), there was also a distinct accentuation on the mental domain and the prerogative of the state to manage it (MD 2000, ISD 2000).[x]


Taken at face value, the wording in these documents betrays a preoccupation with the hostile designs of unspecified foreign countries and foreign special services intent on pushing Russia out of the global information sphere, blocking Russia’s efforts to inform foreign publics about its policies and activities, disrupting the transmission of information from the Russian state to Russian society and monopolizing the Russian information market in order to damage state security and sow disinformation (NSC 2000, ISD 2000). All of this was framed as harmful to Russian public consciousness and as a threat to Russia’s spiritual revival. Contributing to this distressing state of affairs was the disorganization and weakness of the state and the paucity of its resources along with the purported failure of “underdeveloped” civil society to inculcate the youth and society at large with the appropriate patriotic and moral values, the attempts of public associations to use mass media to promote their ideas of forcibly altering the constitutional order and violating the Russian Federation’s territorial integrity (along with inciting ethnic, religious and other forms of violence), and the efforts of unspecified “political forces, public associations, mass media and individuals” to push propaganda aimed at distorting the state’s foreign policy activities (FPC 2000, ISD 2000).


The Russians’ belief or assertion that they were besieged by hostile foreign interests is underscored by references in these texts to need to counter the threats of information warfare and cooperate with international partners to prohibit the development, distribution and use of “the information weapon.” (NSC 2000, ISD 2000) While these texts imply that any foreign state could be the source of threats to Russia’s national security in the information sphere, a specific source of danger was tied to the ambitions (of implied forces) to create a unipolar world order and oppose Russia’s role as an influential center of the emerging multipolar world as well as to the alleged desire of Western countries to press forward with the destruction of the “common scientific and technical space of the Commonwealth of Independent States inherited from the USSR by reorienting their scientific and technical ties, and the most promising research teams, to Western countries.” (ISD 2000)


Henceforth, the Russians resolved to combat these perceived threats to national security by developing and implementing a comprehensive set of measures aimed at fortifying their position in the information sphere. Domestically, they wanted to increase the Russian state’s psychological influence over its own population by enhancing the efficiency of the use of information infrastructure for the interests of social development, the consolidation of Russian society and “the spiritual revival of the multinational people of the Russian Federation”; elaborating “civilized forms and methods of public control over the formation of spiritual values in society that meet the national interests of the country”; strengthening the state mass media and increasing state participation in the development of an information policy for state media; stymieing propaganda and agitation that could incite ethnic or religious enmity; ensuring the reliability of information disseminated through the media about events significant to public life; working out special legal and organizational mechanisms to prevent unlawful psychological impacts on mass consciousness; protecting society from distorted and unreliable information; setting up a system for countering “the monopolization by domestic and foreign structures of the components of the information infrastructure, including the market for information services and the media” and intensifying the production of counterpropaganda to prevent the spread of disinformation about Russia’s domestic politics. With regard to foreign audiences, the Russian leadership expressed their intentions to improve information support for the Russian Federation’s foreign policy activities and to neutralize the spread of information inimical to the state’s foreign policy work abroad (ISD 2000).





“Basic Provisions of the Foreign Policy Concept of the Russian Federation” – 23 April 1993


“Basic Provisions of the Military Doctrine of the Russian Federation” – 2 November 1993 (,of%20modern%20and%20future%20weapons.)

“National Security Concept of the Russian Federation” – 17 December 1997


“Foreign Policy Concept of the Russian Federation” – 28 June 2000


“National Security Concept of the Russian Federation” – 18 January 2000


“Military Doctrine of the Russian Federation” – 21 April 2000


“The Information Security Doctrine of the Russian Federation” – 9 September 2000



Supporting quotes:

“Based on the existing agreements in the military-political and financial-economic fields, Russia will pursue the sustainable development of relations with the United States with a focus on strategic partnership, and, in the future, on alliance.” (FPC 1993)


“The leading group of industrialized countries of the West, relying on modern scientific and technological achievements, is rapidly increasing its economic and financial power and political influence in the world. With the end of the Cold War, the motivation of “Western solidarity,” which was formed in the conditions of confrontation, disappeared, and this causes a more tangible manifestation of geopolitical and economic contradictions between the developed states. However, the Western states retain a significant commonality of interests in fundamental issues of world development (the market economy and civil society), which motivates them to look for joint approaches in the political, military, economic and other fields not only among themselves but also with democratic Russia. The West ceases to be a military-political concept in the traditional sense of power, but remains one of the most important centers of the world economy and international relations, and the global civilizational process. Integration mechanisms are developing, albeit not without difficulties, in particular in Western Europe, which is ever more clearly becoming an independent global factor. One of the characteristic features will also be the struggle between the polycentrism of world politics (USA, Western Europe, Japan plus the states claiming the role of regional centers) and the desire of the United States to maintain its leadership, although its basis [for leadership]—its military potential focused on confrontation with the USSR—is losing its former importance due to the end of the Cold War.” (FPC 1993)


“When interacting with the United States on international issues, conflict situations along the perimeter of Russian borders will most likely come to the fore. It cannot be ruled out that the United States will make attempts to take Russia’s place in the countries of its traditional influence under the cover of mediation and peacemaking efforts.” (FPC 1993)


“The turn of one of the world’s largest states towards democratic development has radically changed the balance of power in the world. The end of politics marked by the struggle of “two systems” with its projection into all aspects of international life has not only removed the threat of a global war and rendered unnecessary most of the weapons accumulated in the era of confrontation but has also set new prerequisites for constructive cooperation between countries at the regional and global levels in the UN and other international organizations.” (FPC 1993)


“The basic existing and potential sources of external military danger for the Russian Federation are [as follows]: the territorial claims of other states on the Russian Federation and its allies; existing and potential local wars and armed conflicts, particularly those in the immediate vicinity of the Russian borders … The main internal sources of military threats which the Russian Federation Armed Forces and other troops may be used to counter are regarded in the document as [follows]: illegal activity by nationalist, separatist, or other organizations which is aimed at destabilizing the situation in the Russian Federation or violating its territorial integrity and which is carried out using armed violence; attempts to overthrow the constitutional system by force or to disrupt the functioning of organs of state power and administration...” (MD 1993)


“The document determines the following basic guidelines for safeguarding the military security of the Russian Federation: … the development of mutually advantageous cooperation with foreign states in the military field, first and foremost with the states belonging to the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and the states of Central and East Europe.” (MD 1993)


“The aim of the Russian Federation's policy in the sphere of nuclear weapons is to eliminate the danger of nuclear war by deterring the launching of aggression against the Russian Federation and its allies.” (MD 1993)


“In order to prevent wars and armed conflicts and ensure the deterrence of potential aggressors from unleashing any wars which threaten the interests of the Russian Federation, its Armed Forces are assigned the following tasks: … the maintenance of the composition and status of the strategic nuclear forces at a level ensuring guaranteed intended damage to the aggressor in any conditions of the situation.” (MD 1993)


“The Russian Federation will not employ its nuclear weapons against any state-party to the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons, dated 1 July 1968, which does not possess nuclear weapons except in the cases of: a) an armed attack against the Russian Federation, its territory, Armed Forces, other troops, or its allies by any state which is connected by an alliance agreement with a state that does possess nuclear weapons; b) joint actions by such a state with a state possessing nuclear weapons in the carrying out or in support of any invasion or armed attack upon the Russian Federation, its territory, Armed Forces, other troops, or its allies.” (MD 1993)


“In conditions where the threat of world war (both nuclear and conventional) is considerably reduced, even if not entirely eliminated, the main danger to stability and peace is posed by local wars and armed conflicts. The likelihood of their arising in certain regions is growing.” (MD 1993)


“All these factors, bearing in mind that the Russian Federation has a powerful nuclear force potential, create the preconditions for ensuring reliable national security for the country in the 21st century.”  (NSC 1997)


“The most important task for the Russian Federation Armed Forces is to ensure nuclear deterrence in the interests of preventing both nuclear and conventional large-scale or regional wars, and to implement alliance commitments. In order to perform this task, the Russian Federation must have nuclear forces with the potential to guarantee the infliction of the required damage on any aggressor state or coalition of states.” (NSC 1997)


“Russia reserves the right to use all the forces and systems at its disposal, including nuclear weapons, if the unleashing of armed aggression results in a threat to the actual existence of the Russian Federation as an independent sovereign state.” (NSC 1997)


“Considering the profound changes in the nature of the Russian Federation's relations with other leading powers, it can be concluded that the threat of large-scale aggression against Russia is virtually absent in the foreseeable future. At the same time, we cannot rule out attempts at power rivalry with Russia.” (NSC 1997)


“The conservation or creation by major powers (and their coalitions) of powerful groupings of armed forces in regions adjacent to Russia's territory remains a threat to Russia's national security in the defense sphere. Even when there are no aggressive intentions with regard to Russia, these groupings present a potential military danger. NATO's expansion to the East and its transformation into a dominant military-political force in Europe create the threat of a new split in the continent which would be extremely dangerous given the preservation in Europe of mobile strike groupings of troops and nuclear weapons and also the inadequate effectiveness of multilateral mechanisms for maintaining peace.” (NSC 1997)


“The threat of a global nuclear conflict has been reduced to a minimum.” (FPC 2000)


“The implementation of the plans of the United States to create a national missile defense system will inevitably compel the Russian Federation to adopt adequate measures for maintaining its national security at a proper level.” (FPC 2000)


“At the same time, new challenges and threats to the national interests of Russia are emerging in the international sphere. There is a growing trend towards the establishment of a unipolar structure of the world with the economic and power domination of the United States.” (FPC 2000)


“Unregulated or potential regional and local armed conflicts a pose threat to international peace and security.” (FPC 2000)


“The threats related to these tendencies are aggravated by the limited resource support for the foreign policy of the Russian Federation, making it difficult to uphold its foreign economic interests and narrowing down the framework of its information and cultural influence abroad. Russia attaches special attention to such an aspect of consolidating strategic stability as ensuring information security.” (FPC 2000)


“A vital task of the Russian Federation is to exercise deterrence to prevent aggression on any scale and nuclear or otherwise, against Russia and its allies. The Russian Federation should possess nuclear forces that are capable of guaranteeing the infliction of the desired extent of damage against any aggressor state or coalition of states in any conditions and circumstances.” (NSC 2000)


“The Russian Federation considers the possibility of employing military force to ensure its national security based on the following principles: the use of all available forces and assets, including nuclear, in the event of need to repulse armed aggression, if all other measures of resolving the crisis situation have been exhausted and have proven ineffective.” (NSC 2000)


“The second trend shows itself in attempts to create an international relations structure based on domination by developed Western countries in the international community, under US leadership and designed for unilateral solutions (including the use of military force) to key issues in world politics in circumvention of the fundamental rules of international law.” (NSC 2000)


“There is an increased threat to the national security of the Russian Federation in the information sphere. A serious danger arises from … the development by a number of states of ‘information warfare’ concepts that entail creation of ways of exerting a dangerous effect on other countries' information systems, of disrupting information and telecommunications systems and data storage systems, and of gaining unauthorized access to them.” (NSC 2000)


“A serious danger arises from the desire of a number of countries to dominate the global information domain space and to expel Russia from the external and internal information market.” (NSC 2000)


“The Russian Federation: • maintains the status of nuclear power to deter (prevent) aggression against it and (or) its allies.” (MD 2000)


“Under present-day conditions the Russian Federation proceeds on the basis of the need to have a nuclear potential capable of guaranteeing a set level of damage to any aggressor (state or coalition of states) under any circumstances. The nuclear weapons with which the Russian Federation Armed Forces are equipped are seen by the Russian Federation as a factor in deterring aggression, safeguarding the military security of the Russian Federation and its allies, and maintaining international stability and peace.” (MD 2000)


“The Russian Federation reserves the right to use nuclear weapons in response to the use of nuclear and other types of weapons of mass destruction against it and (or) its allies, as well as in response to large-scale aggression utilizing conventional weapons in situations critical to the national security of the Russian Federation. The Russian Federation will not use nuclear weapons against states party to the Nonproliferation Treaty that do not possess nuclear weapons except in the event of an attack on the Russian Federation, the Russian Federation Armed Forces or other troops, its allies, or a state to which it has security commitments, that is carried out or supported by a state without nuclear weapons jointly or in the context of allied commitments with a state with nuclear weapons.” (MD 2000)


“2. The military-political situation is determined by the following main factors: • a decline in the threat of the unleashing of a large-scale war, including a nuclear war.” (MD 2000)


“9. A large-scale war may result from an escalation of an armed conflict, local or regional war, or from the involvement in them of a significant number of states from different parts of the world. A large-scale war utilizing only conventional weapons will be characterized by a high likelihood of escalating into a nuclear war with catastrophic consequences for civilization and the foundations of human life and existence. In a large-scale war the sides will set radical military-political goals. It requires the total mobilization of all the material and spiritual resources of the states involved.” (MD 2000)


“The Main Threats to Military Security … 5. The main external threats are [as follows]: … hostile information (information-technical, information-psychological) operations that damage the military security of the Russian Federation and its allies.” (MD 2000)


“Sources of threats to the information security of the Russian … include … the desire of a number of countries to dominate and infringe on Russia's interests in the global information space and to oust it from the external and internal information markets.” (ISD 2000)


“External threats that pose the greatest danger to the objects of ensuring the information security of the Russian Federation in the field of defense are [as follows]: … sabotage and subversive activities of special services of foreign states, carried out by methods of information and psychological influence.” (ISD 2000)


“The following threats to the information security of the Russian Federation pose the greatest danger in the sphere of spiritual life: deformation of the system of mass information both due to the monopolization of the mass media and due to the uncontrolled expansion of the sector of foreign mass media in the domestic information space the use by foreign special services of the media operating on the territory of the Russian Federation to damage the defense capability of the country and the security of the state and to disseminate disinformation; the inability of modern civil society in Russia to ensure the formation of the younger generation and the maintenance in society of socially necessary moral values, patriotism and civic responsibility for the fate of the country.” (ISD 2000)


“Threats to the information support of the state policy of the Russian Federation may be [as follows]: monopolization of the Russian information market and its individual sectors by domestic and foreign information structures; blocking the activities of state media to inform Russian and foreign audiences…” (ISD 2000)


“According to their general direction, the threats to the information security of the Russian Federation are divided into the following types: threats to the constitutional rights and freedoms of man and citizen in the field of spiritual life and information activities; to individual, group and public consciousness and to the spiritual revival of Russia…” (ISD 2000)


“Threats to the constitutional rights and freedoms of man and citizen in the field of spiritual life and information activity; to the individual, group and public consciousness and to the spiritual revival of Russia can be: … the illegal use of special means of influencing individual, group and public consciousness.” (ISD 2000)


“The main directions of ensuring the information security of the Russian Federation in the sphere of spiritual life are [as follows]: … the development of special legal and organizational mechanisms to prevent unlawful information and psychological impacts on the mass consciousness of society…” (ISD 2000)


“Of the internal threats to the information security of the Russian Federation in the sphere of foreign policy, the most dangerous are [as follows]: information and propaganda activities of political forces, public associations, mass media and individuals, distorting the strategy and tactics of the foreign policy activities of the Russian Federation; insufficient awareness of the population about the foreign policy activities of the Russian Federation…” (ISD 2000)


“The following threats to the information security of the Russian Federation pose the greatest danger in the sphere of domestic policy: … dissemination of disinformation about the policy of the Russian Federation, the activities of federal government bodies and events taking place in the country and abroad; activities of public associations aimed at forcibly changing the foundations of the constitutional order and violating the integrity of the Russian Federation, inciting social, racial, national and religious hatred, and disseminating these ideas in the media.” (ISD 2000)


“The insecurity of citizens' rights to access to information and the manipulation of information cause a negative reaction of the population, which in some cases leads to destabilization of the socio-political situation in society. There is no clarity in the conduct of state policy in the field of the formation of the Russian information space, the development of the mass media system, the organization of international information exchange and the integration of the Russian information space into the world information space, which creates conditions for the displacement of Russian news agencies, the media from the domestic information market and deformation of structures of international information exchange. There is insufficient government support for the activities of Russian news agencies to promote their products to the foreign information market.” (ISD 2000)


“3. Sources of threats to information security of the Russian Federation … Internal sources include: … insufficient coordination of the activities of federal state authorities and state authorities of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation in the formation and implementation of a unified state policy in the field of ensuring information security of the Russian Federation; insufficient development of the regulatory legal framework governing relations in the information sphere, as well as insufficient law enforcement practice; the underdevelopment of civil society institutions and insufficient state control over the development of the information market in Russia; insufficient funding for measures to ensure the information security of the Russian Federation; insufficient economic power of the state; a decrease in the efficiency of the education and upbringing system, the insufficient number of qualified personnel in the field of information security; the insufficient activity of federal state authorities and the state authorities of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation in informing the public about their activities, in explaining the decisions made and in the formation of open state resources and the development of a system for citizens to access them…” (ISD 2000)


“Work toward the adequate comprehensive response to these threats is being carried out in conditions of insufficient coordination and weak budgetary financing. Insufficient attention is paid to the development of means of space surveillance and electronic warfare. (ISD 2000)


“3. Sources of threats to information security of the Russian Federation …the development by a number of states of the concepts of information wars, which provide for the creation of means of dangerous influence on the information spheres of other countries of the world, the disruption of the normal functioning of information and telecommunication systems, the safety of information resources and obtaining unauthorized access to them.” (ISD 2000)


“In connection with the intensive introduction of foreign information technologies in the spheres of activity of the individual, society and the state, as well as with the widespread use of open information and telecommunication systems and the integration of domestic information systems and international information systems, the threat of the use of ‘the information weapon’ against Russia’s information infrastructure.”  (ISD 2000)


“… the reality of the threat to use ‘the information weapon.” (ISD 2000)


“A particularity of the Russian Federation’s international cooperation in the sphere of ensuring information security is that it is being carried out in conditions of the intensification of international competition for the possession of technological and informational resources and for market domination, in conditions of the continuation of attempts to create a structure of international relations based on unilateral solutions to key problems in world politics and opposition to the strengthening of Russia’s role as one of the influential centers of the multipolar world currently being formed, and [in conditions] of the strengthening of the technological gap of the leading powers of the world and the enhancement of their capacity to create ‘the information weapon.’ All this can lead to a new stage in the arms race in the information sphere and an increase in the threat of foreign intelligence services’ human-agent and operational-technical infiltration of Russia, including through the use of global information infrastructure.” (ISD 2000)






[i] Patrick Wintour, “Russia’s belief in Nato ‘betrayal’ – and why it matters today,” The Guardian, 12 January 2022,; Murat Sofuoglu, “Russia could have joined NATO. But why didn't they do it?” TRT World, 16 March 2022,;

[ii] Amiran Khevtsuriani, “Foreign Policy Concepts of Russia,” European Political and Law Discourse 5, no. 1 (2018): 41-48, p. 42, «сосредоточение полного контроля над ядерными силами бывшего СССР в руках России» (Foreign Policy Concept 1993)

[iii] Jim Headley, “Sarajevo, February 1994: The First Russia-NATO Crisis of the Post-Cold War Era,” Review of International Studies 29, no. 2 (April 2003): 209-227, available on JSTOR; Vadim Kononenko, “From Yugoslavia to Iraq: Russia’s Foreign Policy and the Effects of Multipolarity,” UPI Working Papers 42 (2003),, 1, 7-15; Elias Götz, “Explaining Russia’s Opposition to NATO Enlargement: Strategic Imperatives, Ideas, or Domestic Politics?” available at:; Elaine Sciolino, “Yeltsin Says NATO Is Trying to Split Continent Again,” The New York Times (6 December 1994),; Gyula Bene, “NATO Expansion in Central and Eastern Europe,” MA thesis, Marine Corps University, 1997,;  “Study on NATO Enlargement,” NATO, 3 September 1995,; “Member States,” NATO, updated 4 October 2022,  

[iv] “Kosovo Air Campaign (March-June 1999),” NATO, updated 17 May 2022,; Andrew Glass, “NATO begins bombing Serbia, March 24, 1999,” Politico, 24 March 2019,, “The Breakup of Yugoslavia, 1990–1992,” U.S. State Department Office of the Historian,, accessed 7 January 2023; “66. Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (1992-2006),” University of Central Arkansas,, accessed 7 January 2023; “A Guide to the United States’ History of Recognition, Diplomatic, and Consular Relations, by Country, since 1776: Kosovo,” U.S. State Department Office of the Historian,, accessed 7 January 2023; Carsten Stahn, “The Agreement on Succession Issues of the Former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia,” The American Journal of International Law 96, no. 2 (2002): 379–97. The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia’s claims to be the successor state to the SFRY in the United Nations were rejected, and it had to apply as a new state. It was accepted in 2000.  

[v] “Russia, Chechnya and the IMF,” The Washington Post, 22 January 1995,; Sophie Lambroschini, RFE/RL, “Russia: IMF Threatens To Refuse Loans For Spending On Chechnya War,” 9 October 1999,; “IMF Members' Quotas and Voting Power, and IMF Board of Governors,” IMF, updated 31 December 2022,; Gordon Gray and Thomas Wade, “U.S. Participation in the International Monetary Fund (IMF): A Primer,” American Action Forum, 23 October 2018,; Ariel Cohen, “Russia's Meltdown: Anatomy of the IMF Failure,” The Heritage Foundation, 23 October 1998,; Abid Aslam, “Russia: IMF book-loan to prevent defaults - to IMF!” found here:; “Republicans Protest as U.S. Lets Russia Skip Debt Payment,” Washington Post,; John Burgess, “U.S. Plan On Russia Debt Stirs Hill Anger,” Washington Post, 1 July 2000,; “Helms Blocks Russian Aid,” CBS News, 15 June 2000,; “An examination of the Russian economic crisis and the International Monetary Fund aid package : hearing before the Subcommittee on General Oversight and Investigations of the Committee on Banking and Financial Services, U.S. House of Representatives, One Hundred Fifth Congress, second session, September 10, 1998.” United States. Washington, U.S.G.P.O. 1998, pp. 42, 52, 141. Available here:; John P. Hardt, “Russia’s Paris Club Debt and U.S. Interests,” CRS Report for Congress, 6 June 2001,; “Web Document 15.B: IMF Quotas, 1990–99,” IMF,; Taras Kuzio, “International reaction to the Chechen crisis,” Central Asian Survey 15, no. 1: 97-109 (1996); Vladimir Baranovsky, “Humanitarian Intervention: Russian Perspectives,” available at; Mixail Ryklin, “Evroremont” (Eurorenovation), available at

[vi] “NATO action against Serbian military targets prompts divergent views as security council holds urgent meeting on situation in Kosovo,” United Nations, 24 March 1999,; Vladimir Baranovsky, “Humanitarian Intervention: Russian Perspectives,” available at According to Vladimir Baranovsky, “Putin stated on 1 February 2000, in what was considered his first conceptual foreign policy outline, that ‘it is inadmissible, under the slogan of so called [sic] humanitarian intervention, to cancel such basic principles of international law as sovereignty and the territorial integrity of states.” Compare also with Vladimir Putin’s words from 2014. He said, “After the dissolution of bipolarity on the planet, we no longer have stability. Key international institutions are not getting any stronger; on the contrary, in many cases, they are sadly degrading. Our western partners, led by the United States of America, prefer not to be guided by international law in their practical policies, but by the rule of the gun. They have come to believe in their exclusivity and exceptionalism, that they can decide the destinies of the world, that only they can ever be right. They act as they please: here and there, they use force against sovereign states, building coalitions based on the principle ‘If you are not with us, you are against us.’ To make this aggression look legitimate, they force the necessary resolutions from international organisations, and if for some reason this does not work, they simply ignore the UN Security Council and the UN overall. This happened in Yugoslavia; we remember 1999 very well. It was hard to believe, even seeing it with my own eyes, that at the end of the 20th century, one of Europe’s capitals, Belgrade, was under missile attack for several weeks, and then came the real intervention. Was there a UN Security Council resolution on this matter, allowing for these actions? Nothing of the sort.” “Address by President of the Russian Federation,” 18 March 2014, available at  

[vii] Compare Alexei G. Arbatov, “The Transformation of Russian Military Doctrine: Lessons Learned from Kosovo and Chechnya,” Marshall Center, July 2000,  

[viii] Compare: Gavin Wilde and Justin Sherman, “No Water’s Edge: Russia’s Information War and Regime Security,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 4 January 2023,  

[ix] According to the “Information Security Doctrine of the Russian Federation” of 2000, a number of laws related to information security had already been adopted and draft laws were being prepared for the regulation of public relations in the information sphere. Moreover, measures had already been taken to ensure information security in federal government bodies and the governmental bodies of the federation’s constituent entities,  as well as at business and social organizations.  

[x] Compare with Wilde and Sherman, who write, “Critically, Russian government references to so-called information security do not mirror the modern, Western understanding of information security—which refers generally to the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of systems, networks, and data. ... Instead, the Russian government’s discussion of information security broadly encompasses the regime’s interests in the information sphere, including regime security and the state’s control over information flows and public opinion.” See also Pasha Sharikov, “Understanding the Russian Approach to Information Security,” European Leadership Network, 16 January 2018, Sharikov writes, “To a certain extent, the Russian approach to cyber policies is opposite to the American and European ones. The Russian approach is based on the responsibility of the government to secure not only the infrastructure but also the information itself. This reflects Russia’s traditional understanding of national sovereignty. While Western countries understand sovereignty in the information era as encouraging global information exchange through safe technological infrastructure, the Russian government understands information sovereignty as “nonproliferation” of foreign information among Russian citizens, and sharing the “proper information about Russia with foreign partners” [1]. Such an approach is reflected in all major pieces of legislation adopted in Russia as well as in the major doctrines of information security.”  

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