Chapter 27. Security Index of a Globalized World: The Russian Dimension (2007)

April 15, 2024

Hardly anyone would deny that today’s global processes are of concern not just to every country on our planet, but also to each individual, no matter from which part of the world he or she comes. Economic ties, cultural diffusion, the unified information space brought about by television and the Internet, similar lifestyles and shared values are just a few of the things bringing mankind closer and closer together. Globalization has become a dominating theme in political and expert discussions of practically any problem dealing with development trends in international political, economic, and cultural relations.

Security Index Journal. №1 (81), Spring 2007.
Source: PIR Center (№1-81.pdf)

On the one hand, globalization means the spread of certain models. Nobody would doubt that globalization is useful and progressive if it means sharing models that contribute to high standards of living, high quality IT, high culture, and science. But no ordinary person will accept globalization if it means the suppression of national culture, information aggression or the imposition of alien ideology and standards. Unfortunately, today we quite often see the attempts by certain politicians and governments to implement globalization in the latter fashion.

Yes, globalization, which I also understand as the internationalization of life, is moving forward, overcoming, and creating difficulties, breaking the resistance of certain social groups and replacing them with others. Yes, the fruits of globalization are not distributed evenly: the weak and the poor are left behind as usual! Indeed, traditional cultures with deep roots that go back to antiquity are being pushed aside and into the ditch, while aggressive subcultures are getting ahead fostered by the material opportunities provided by the vanguard of globalization – the United States.

In fact, the United States has declared practically the whole world its zone of national interest, while its models of democracy and culture have become the standard in the world. It has demonstrated its willingness and ability to establish order in any country in the world. However, its methods for establishing this sort of order have become openly forceful of late. Furthermore, these methods are not always welcomed either by the people of the countries where this order is being established or by global community in general.

Today many people believe that Chapter I, Article 2, paragraph 7 of the UN Charter which proclaims the principle of non-interference “in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state”[2] should be revised. They propose replacing the principle of state sovereignty with the principle of global security. Human and national rights to self-determination are contrasted with the principles of state sovereignty and territorial integrity. Nation-states are accused of being unable to govern effectively given the fact of globalization. Clear political concepts like state and border are being replaced by unclear geographic and socio-economic terms that don’t have any legal basis.

What is globalization and why is it happening?

I see globalization as a direct threat to the continued existence of the 1648 Westphalian system of international relations that is still in force today when a new multipolar system is being shaped. If this threat is realized, in addition to blowing up the current world order, it might also shake up the constitutional foundations of sovereign states. It is particularly important to note that it is the Westphalian system that made it possible to create the United Nations: it was established and still exists today only because of the will of sovereign states which had the goal to never again allow the global catastrophes like World War II (WWII) (1939-1945) to happen.

Certainly, globalization is a fundamental trend that will determine the direction of world development for many decades to come. As for Russia, globalization is likely, or may even inevitably, to lead to changes not only in the economy but also in other areas such as politics, nationalities issues and social sphere. In addition to positive changes, however, there are likely to be quite a few negative ones, including new challenges in the sphere of national security. This is particularly relevant for a country with the diversity of nationalities and religions such as Russia.

At this point we should ask some questions:

  • How can we ensure that globalization will not destroy state sovereignty?
  • How can we ensure that globalization will not replace international relations with a sort of global supermarket?
  • How can we ensure that our countries’ history and culture will not disappear in a unified information space as a result of globalization?
  • How can we ensure that presidents, parliaments, and governments elected by their citizens will not have their real powers taken over by transnational financial magnates?

And, probably, one could pose many more similar questions. However, even though globalization is one of the most significant factors influencing global development today, I do not believe that it is the only factor.

Monopolization and the Titanic

The two opposing trends can be noted today: one is about the US mission to create a unipolar world (this trend is currently prevailing but, to my mind, will not win in the end) and the other is about the shift towards a multipolar world. In my opinion, the monopoly of a single superpower, the United States, based on overwhelming military force and vast material resources may stymie the world. While before the 1990s, we could speak of the two opposing superpowers, two military alliances and the bipolar world, after the disintegration of the Soviet Union the United States became the sole superpower and has been ramping up its efforts to establish a unipolar world order under its aegis.

Despite the new international situation, the leadership of the United States and some other leading countries continue to believe that it is not only OK to threaten the use of force but also to make good on this threat against any state that does not have a sufficient deterrent capability. Therefore, they consider the military to be one of the main tools for pursuing national interests and achieving political and economic aims. Because of this, the majority of big powers –primarily the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member countries, Japan, China, India, Pakistan and Iran – are actively reequipping their armed forces, buying new equipment and modernizing existing weapons systems.

The most dangerous aspect of this type of policy is that it does not only result in the expenditure of substantial resources but also leads to concrete actions, including:

  • the demonstration of military force and determination to use it against an unwanted regime accompanied by an aggressive information campaign;
  • the use of a military blockade in order to isolate this regime from the rest of the world;
  • forced change of an unwanted regime without the sanction of relevant international institutions and despite the protests of the greater part of the world’s states as illustrated by the example of British-American operation in Iraq.

As a result, the principles of state sovereignty and non-interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states are eroding further and further. The very processes of globalization which are being pushed forward in all walks of life have become the main drivers of global development in the 21st century.

The US administration has appointed itself (without asking the others) both the captain and the helmsman of these transformational processes while making its claims to global leadership blatantly obvious. The first results of this can already be seen both in Iraq and in the former Soviet republics especially in Central Asia and the Caucasus. The danger for Russia and other passengers of the global Titanic is that nobody is asking them in which direction they want to sail. Nobody wants the recurrence of a tragic fate that befell the passengers of the real Titanic… Let’s ask ourselves: is the global community, Russia included, threatened by total dominance of one superpower – the United States? In my opinion, despite the fact that it avails itself of enormous economic and military might and the ambitions of the country’s military and political leaders, the coming of a unipolar world is not guaranteed.

Globalization and Russian interests

I am sure that the world’s states and their peoples need a fair, multipolar world, with equal rights and no self-appointed hegemon. That is why we have already seen resistance to the US domination in the 21st century and there will only be more challenges in the future, arising from Asia (particularly China and India). Where is the guarantee that the United States will not come into direct competition with China? Can a similar rivalry between the United States and the European Union be completely ruled out? Or with Greater (in the terminology of the US administration) Middle East?

Furthermore, there are and there can be no values that might be considered universal for all the countries and peoples. There are no values that are better than the values of so-called backward peoples which they have developed throughout history. Whatever they are, national identity and national values reflect the soul of a people.

Therefore, Russia’s national interest has clearly been and will continue to be determined on the basis of its historical development. Certainly, the country’s current situation is far from what its citizens desire. But it took centuries for Russian civilization to develop, during which time it faced up to threats and challenges and developed its unique lifestyle valued all over the world. It is quite natural that Russia today, like any other state, pursues its permanent (core) national interests such as state sovereignty, territorial integrity, domestic political stability, strategic stability of the international political system and easy access to vital economic and strategic regions and lines of communication. Unfortunately, these interests are now being threatened again.

Russia stands for globalization. And it has been contributing to it for centuries. Russian words intelligentsia and sputnik, the first man in outer space, the rise of the peoples of remote Russian territories to global renown, as well as Russian music and literature have become the world heritage. Russia made a critical contribution to victories in the World Wars of the 20th century and the Napoleonic Wars in the 19th century. It offered its help to the United States in its struggle for independence and to the countries of Asia, Africa, and South America when they were freeing themselves from colonialism. And if we go even further back in time, our ancestors helped to save Europe from the army of Genghis Khan.

For these reasons we have our own vision of globalization. I am against placing Russia in opposition to Europe and Asia (Eurasia), but I am also against the imposition of European civilization on Russia since I am certain that if Russia wants to have a successful future, it must remain Russia. Russia is not Europe, not Asia and not even Eurasia. I would like to emphasize, it is Russia! At the same time, the Russian Federation occupies a unique geopolitical and geostrategic position. Russia’s strategic priorities are determined by national political, economic and security goals. These goals reflect Russia’s basic national interests in three interconnected spheres: domestic, regional, and global.

At a national (state) level, our key interest is the transformation of Russia into an economically powerful state that is focused on living up to the expectations of all the peoples and social groups of the Russian Federation. Having set national development priorities, which are aimed at the transformation of the Russian Federation into a powerful and modern democratic state with an advanced economy, science, and culture, we must also remember about the whole range of domestic and external threats that could prevent us from the realization of our goals. Russia’s current geostrategic situation is influenced by cardinal changes affecting international political system which have shaped new global and regional systems of international relations. This situation is developing dynamically, is unstable and includes the periods of acute tension.

After the disintegration of the Soviet Union Russia’s geostrategic situation did not improve. As a result of the formation of 15 sovereign states in the post-Soviet space many interstate problems arose that frequently led to military confrontations. This could not help but affect the general character of threats to Russian security and the balance of power both at a global and regional levels. The end of the ideological and military confrontation between two political systems has not led, as it was expected, to the demilitarization of global politics. Russia’s increased interaction with the West based on common as well as vested strategic interests has not contributed to the strengthening of its security. Moreover, the situation in the areas of the world vital for Russia’s interests as well as in the areas adjacent to it have become even more complicated in several cases.

This has brought to life another priority national interest: the necessity to have reliable defense capabilities that are maintained at a level adequate to meet existing and potential military threatsand provide for Russia’s free and sovereign development. As prominent Russian military theorist Alexander Svechin put it in the 1920s, in the military sphere strategic policy should be the military projection of [a state’s] general policy[3]. Thus, Russia’s long-term political and economic priorities determine its strategic priorities in the military sphere. For those of us in the military, the defense of Russian national interests consists of neutralizing threats posed to the Russian Federation and its allies, deterring direct or indirect aggression and attempts to exert pressure on it through the use of force, as well as ensuring military defense of the integrity and inviolability of our territory and the nation’s peaceful and democratic development.

The Russian military’s objectives

The Russian Ministry of Defense’s view of the threats to Russian security and the mission of its armed forces in the near future are based on a comprehensive assessment of global military and strategic situation. As a result of a significant weakening of Russia’s defense capacity (in comparison with that of the Soviet Union), military threats to national security can now arise from both the developed states and their military alliances as well as from the developing countries that have well-armed and well-trained armies. It should be clear to all that if the states with territorial or other claims vis-à-vis Russia have military power, they cannot be discounted. Another emerging military threat to Russian security is the situation near its borders which may serve as a catalyst, casus belli, if you will, for an armed conflict.

In our view, real near-term military threats to Russian national securityare the following:

  • the US policy of maintaining its leading position in the world and expanding its economic, political and military presence in the regions traditionally within Russia’s realm;
  • the realization of plans for further NATO expansion;
  • the undertaking of military actions in defiance of the widely recognized principles of international law is becoming common practice in the West;
  • existing and potential hot spots of local wars and confrontations, particularly in Russia’s immediate proximity;
  • possible undermining of strategic stability as a result of a violation of international agreements in the field of arms control and reductions, and/or the qualitative and quantitative escalation of arms acquisition by other countries;
  • the proliferation of nuclear and other types of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), means of their delivery and the most modern military technologies as a result of the attempts by various countries, organizations, and terrorist groups to realize their military and political aspirations;
  • the expansion of military blocs and alliances to the detriment of Russia’s national security interests;
  • other states’ territorial claims to the Russian Federation and its allies;
  • the struggle for access to energy resources;
  • international terrorism;
  • illegal activities of nationalist, separatist organizations directed towards the destabilization of the internal situation in the Russian Federation;
  • the spread of information hostile to the Russian Federation and its allies.

In order to answer the question of how to ensure Russian military security given this new context, it is necessary:

  • to define the goals of national military policy in such a way so that it should reflect the threats classified as most likely and dangerous;
  • to develop a model for the armed forces (and for national military as a whole) that will determine necessary responses to these threats and their possible consequences, in order to find the optimum force structure to meet these threats;
  • to create a capacity for peacekeeping operations without the involvement (or with the minimal involvement) of the armed forces;
  • to improve the equipping, comprehensive maintenance and preparedness of the armed forces emphasizing joint, not separate, training of various military branches, units and other related organizations;
  • to defend the interests of the Russian Federation in a tough and pragmatic manner, while concluding international agreements and treaties and participating in the development of legal norms with a view to promoting Russian interests in all international organizations, including the United Nations;
  • to create geostrategic conditions favorable to the Russian Federation through building of alliances, coalitions, and other collective security systems;
  • to develop economic capabilities and military-industrial complex as necessary conditions to increase the country’s military capacity and military power.

Force and law

I believe that military power will continue to play a critical role in determining global geopolitical balance for many years to come. The concept of international law is being transformed. A new international legal system needs to be created from scratch. Our priorities are well known. We believe that since the world today is facing new threats, we cannot allow a legal vacuum in the sphere of strategic stability.

Strengthening the WMD nonproliferation regime and preventing leaks of sensitive technologies in the nuclear and missile spheres are critical to maintaining strategic stability today. This is due to the fact that changes in the international system over the past decade have resulted in a weakening of the WMD nonproliferation regime formed in the late 1980s and maintained by the two superpowers (the United States and the Soviet Union). As a result of the demise of the bipolar system, many states’ motivations to obtain nuclear weapons and WMD have increased, with no effective means in place to combat this tendency. This is because in the past (during the Cold War), the bipolar system not only obligated countries on each side to be prepared to attack each other, but also provided certain deterrent against an attack. This was also true for the third world countries: the superpowers watched one another suspiciously and tried to block the use of force against the so-called neutral countries that could result in a strengthening of the opposition. Today, given the decreased role of the United Nations in controlling the use of force, those countries outside the zone of the US influence are increasingly motivated to acquire nuclear weapons and other types of WMD.

Rapid evolution of conventional arms and their enhanced quality make the countries afraid of a conventional attack seek WMD, including nuclear weapons which have become both more accessible and more affordable. This is because nuclear weapons built in the middle of the 20th century as the weapons of rich states have become the weapons of poor states providing them an ability to reliably counter military threats posed by more developed countries. At the same time, technical progresshas made nuclear weapons more accessible, to say nothing of chemical and biological weapons. From this point of view, we cannot help but be worried about the US and UK efforts to assign nuclear weapons a role of a deterrent to other types of WMD, which contradicts the principle of negative security assurances for non-nuclear-weapon states. We are similarly concernedabout the US aspiration to create, in accordance with its new nuclear doctrine, small-scaleand miniature nuclear munitions for pinpoint and possibly preventive strikes on the pretext ofa noble cause – the fight against terrorism.

Thus, new security threats and challenges force many countries to rely on nuclear arsenals more and more, a situation that indirectly increases the probability of nuclear weapons proliferation which, in turn, leads to further deterioration of the strategic situation and security. Hence, in our opinion, nonproliferation of nuclear weapons and other types of WMD should be a priority area in all nuclear-weapon states’ security policies. With regard to the European security, our proposals consist of the establishment of a system of equal security for all European states without military alliances or dividing lines based on cooperation, which involves all European institutions (NATO, EU, OSCE, etc.).

Proceeding from the European experience, one could propose the consideration of new arms control measures including at a regional level. In our opinion, they could be based on the following principles:

  • the indivisibility of the security of all states;
  • the sufficiency of military capabilities;
  • the equality of participants and voluntary character of agreements;
  • equal security;
  • economic acceptability;
  • capacity and adaptation to new situations.

Arms control: a new approach is needed

Basic tools of arms control such as the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE Treaty) and the Vienna Document played a major role the past decades; in particular, it was due to them that military and political changes in Europe did not lead to new crises and conflicts. However, today many provisions of these documents have noticeably lost their relevance and ceased to correspond to the changing situation.

In its current state, the CFE Treaty regime is no longer able to maintain stability and balance of interests of states parties to it, given military and political changes occurring in Europe, particularly because it has no provisions for new members joining the agreement. As far as the Agreement on Adaptation of the CFE Treaty is concerned, its ratification has already been postponed by the NATO states for seven years. As a result, after two stages of NATO expansion to the East and the failure of the Agreement on Adaptation to enter into force, the CFE Treaty has basically lost its relevance. Given this situation, the Russian Federation is not going to pretend that the CFE Treaty is functioning well, and that we are satisfied with it. The Third CFE Treaty Review Conference highlighted the desire of the NATO countries to seal in documents for an uncertain term the inequality of the parties within the framework of the existing Treaty.

No less important is the adaptation of the Vienna Document of 1999, which has ceased to carry out its main function: to provide confidence and security-building measures for contemporary military activities. And that is in spite of the fact that there has been a sharp rise in the intensity of military activity, the number of military exercises including multinational exercises, and the geography of these exercises. Some parties to the document believe that large-scale exercises are no longer occurring and that, therefore, they do not reach the threshold when notification and observation are required. However, modern military equipment now makes it possible for smaller numbers of troops and armaments to undertake large-scale a fairly significant military operations.

The document now in force does not take into account recent qualitative changes in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe stipulating that the exchange of information about these forces would be an important measure in building trust and cooperation. There still remain in force the irrelevant Vienna Document provisions on risk reduction. Thus, the global community’s development of a common approach towards the fundamental problem of creating a new system of international relations is vital to the optimization of regional organizations in the field of security.

Russia and Europe

We would also like to note that within the general framework of a common European process we have managed through joint efforts to create a pretty solid basis for continuing a meaningful dialogue on the whole range of global and regional security problems. It is important that we should not stop with what we have already achieved. We need to move forward, through the coordination of national security concepts in conformity with the UN Charter and the principles of international law, to create a military strategy on a Eurasian scale. Again, it should be emphasized that critical international problems of today can be solved only through joint efforts and with the involvement of legitimate international organizations. This problem is quite surmountable. In order to solve it, we need to translate the general vision of new partner relationships into real action.

I believe that comprehensive use of Russia’s military capacity is in the interest of European consciousness. This can be provided for by our country joining in European processes on an equitable basis and through the creation of an effective common European anti-crisis mechanism. This is why Russia supports the creation of a common European security system with the formation of mechanisms for conflict prevention and resolution, primarily by peaceful means. The most important principle upon which European security is based is the unconditional observance of international obligations and standards, as well as the continued development of a system of arms control agreements.

NATO exerts significant influence on the military situation in Europe and beyond. Thanks to its military capacity, it continues to impact the European and global security system.

Several unresolved problems remain. First of all, there is the ongoing NATO policy directed towards the expansion to the states of the post-Soviet space, where Russia has its national interests. The situation started to unfold several years ago during the second wave of NATO expansion. At the time, Russia’s voice was not heard. As a result, the so-called Baltic knot was formed, in which all the problems of the Russian-Baltic states relations are closely intertwined. This includes the inability to make use of Lithuanian territory and air space for the transit of Russian cargoes (including military cargoes) between Kaliningrad area and the rest of Russia, humiliating position of the Russian-speaking population in the Baltic states and territorial claims to Russia.

Another unresolved problem is the failure to sign a treaty with the alliance for the prevention of dangerous military activity which, in our opinion, would make it possible to develop a legal, civilized procedure to manage the actions of parties involved in unforeseen military situations arising along Russia’s borders. The September 2005 accident involving a Russian plane in Lithuania clearly confirmed that NATO members should have heeded long ago our suggestions concerning the development of confidence-building measures when Russian and NATO forces come into contact.

In recent years, many military facilities – air stations, naval bases, training centers and ranges – on the territory of new NATO members have undergone modernization. These installations can be used for operational deployment as well as force support. Furthermore, we cannot but note that this is changing the military character in the area next to our borders, in the areas falling under CFE Treaty restrictions. We should note that Russia wants NATO to be a predictable and reliable partner. Combating new threats and challenges that are facing mankind in the 21st century can only be done in concert, with taking each other’s interests into account.

Russia looks to the East and to the South

Cooperation with the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) member states has become a Russian military priority. There is a broad range of interaction with the Organization member states – from coordination of foreign policy and joint military planning, to combating terrorism, drug trafficking, illegal migration, and organized crime. Russian combat divisions that are dedicated to the CSTO are part of the Collective Rapid Reaction Forces in the Central Asian Region together with the military contingents of three other states – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. Within the Organization framework there are plans to create a military group capable of protecting CSTO states in the Central Asian, Western and Caucasus CSTO regions. Russian military units are being dedicated to the proposed new structure. We also place great importance on the development of military cooperation under the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which is primarily aimed at preventing and combating terrorism. At the same time, traditional military cooperation with the largest states – China and India – is continuing on a bilateral basis.

Baluevsky, Yury N.

Chief of the Russian Federation Armed Forces General Staff, First Deputy Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation, Army General. Born in 1947 in Truskavets, Lvov Oblast, Ukraine. Graduated from the Leningrad Higher Joint Forces Command School in 1970, from the Frunze Military Academy in 1980, and from the USSR Armed Forces General Staff Military Academy in 1990. In 1982-1988, he served in leadership positions in the Main Operations Directorate of the USSR Armed Forces General Staff. In 1990, he became deputy head and then head of the Main Operations Directorate of the General Staff. In 1993-1995, he was head of staff and the first deputy commander of the Russian Forces in the Caucasus Region. In June 1995, he became directorate head and deputy director of the Main Operations Directorate of the Russian Federation Armed Forces. In August 1997, he became director of the Main Operations Directorate of the Russian Federation Armed Forces. In June 2001, he was named the first deputy director of the Russian Federation Armed Forces General Staff. In July 2004, he was appointed director of the Russian Federation Armed Forces General Staff and first deputy defense minister of Russia. In November 2004, he was appointed chairman of the CIS Council of Heads of General Staff. In 2008-2012, he was Deputy Secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation.

[1] Full version of this chapter was first published as: Балуевский Ю. Индекс безопасности глобального мира: российское измерение // Индекс безопасности, 2007. № 1 (81). Том 13. С. 33-47. URL:№1-81.pdf.  

[2] United Nations Charter, Chapter I: Purposes and Principles // United Nations. URL:  

[3] Свечин А. Стратегия. М.: Государственное военное издательство, 1926. 396 c. Первое издание.

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