Russia is not a threat to the West

Ambassador's view
Dr Alexander Yakovenko, Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Deputy foreign minister (2005-2011). Follow him on Twitter @Amb_Yakovenko
© Alexey Filippov
On December 31, 2015, President Vladimir Putin signed the update to Russia’s National Security Strategy 2016, a key strategic planning document that fully meets the needs of the current situation.

In contrast to the recently published National Security Strategy of the United States, which defines military supremacy as the main tool for maintaining their “global leadership,” the Russian Strategy emphasizes the importance of strategic stability and mutually beneficial partnerships based on the principles of international law. It reflects the objective process of a new multi-polar world order taking shape, and of global and regional instability on the rise.

The strategy confirms the continuity of Russian foreign policy, based on the respect for independence and sovereignty, on pragmatism, transparency, a multi-vector policy and a non-confrontational protection of national interests. The use of military force to protect national interests is only possible if all other means have been exhausted.

Russia attaches great importance to ensuring sustainable global development, which requires collective leadership, coupled with the central and coordinating role of the UN. To these ends, Russia will actively support further economic integration within the Eurasian Economic Union, enhance its participation in such forums as BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, strengthen bilateral relations with China and India, and with other countries of the Asia-Pacific region, Latin America and Africa.

The document acknowledges the complex environment in which Russia is determined to protect and promote its interests and security. The anti-Russian sanctions imposed by the West under a false pretext and attempts to put pressure upon us on international affairs are part of this. It is worth mentioning the anti-constitutional coup in Ukraine supported by the US and EU, which led to a deep schism in Ukrainian society and an armed conflict in the East. The consolidation of an extreme right-wing nationalist ideology and the vilification of Russia as an enemy turned Ukraine into a long-term source of European instability, right next to Russia's borders.

Despite some speculation in the Western media that Russia considers NATO a threat, it is the actions by NATO, not the worn-out alliance itself, that could directly or indirectly harm Russia's national interests. The buildup of NATO's military potential, increased military activity and continued expansion to the East, and the deployment of its military infrastructure closer to Russia's borders are the threat to our security. Our assessments are based on real NATO moves and military planning aimed at changing the current European balance of powers. To mention just a few examples: additional troops and military equipment are deployed from NATO member-countries to regions bordering with Russia to conduct military exercises; forward-based command and staff units continue to be established; naval formations patrolling the Baltic Sea have been beefed up; and NATO member-states maintain their permanent naval presence in the Black Sea.

On the contrary, Russia, according to the Strategy, is ready to build a relationship with NATO on the basis of equality and common interests in strengthening the security in the Euro-Atlantic region. That's why we have always spoken in favor of strengthening the arms control regimes, the cooperation in the fight against terrorism and promoting confidence-building measures and settlement of regional conflicts. Of course, the depth and content of these relations will depend on the alliance's reciprocal readiness to take Russia's legitimate interests into account while respecting the norms of international law.

Russia's approach to national security is based on the principle of equal and indivisible security for all, regardless of the political and ideological affiliation of the states. Regrettably, the West forgot the Russian proposal to create a pan-European security zone by adopting a European Security Treaty, which is on the table.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.