Introduction

Editor-in-Chief
February 9, 2024

The handbook in front of you is a unique analytical endeavor coming out at a remarkable time. On the one hand, the Western part of the world is hell-bent on demonizing or keeping quiet about Russia’s foreign, defense and security policies, trying to cast Russia in the role of the bête noire of international relations, and muffling the voices of impartial Russian experts in the worst traditions of suppressing dissent. On the other hand, ironically, the demand for informed discussions of international security matters related to Russia and its policies runs as high as ever. Even over there on the Western side, but especially across the vast non-Western communities that make up the Global Majority, people are really keen to understand Russia’s reasoning, interests and perception of security. 

This Yearbook is the successor to the Security Index Journal, which was previously published by PIR Center, under my guidance and editorial chairmanship, for leaders and experts in Russia and around the globe. In keeping with our time-proven policy, we do not intend to indoctrinate our readers, force-feed them with our answers to complex questions or, for that matter, pretend to know all of them. This would be highly unprofessional and presumptuous. On the contrary, we assume that, to quote the outstanding Abkhazian thinker and writer Fazil Iskander, not every critique is essentially a thought, but every thought is essentially a critique.

The collection before you is a mixed treasure pile of reflections penned by the most prominent Russian experts on international security, foreign policy and global development. An assortment of rough diamonds that, as the Editor-in-Chief, I make a point of leaving unpolished lest I should make them misleadingly over glossed. Conversely, I want you to be able to see also the rough which appear as a result of our continuous professional conversations and debates. 

Hes blessed who visited this world

In moments of its destination –

Like for the feast or celebration,

He was invited there by gods?

This scintillating poetical observation was made by the great Russian poet Fyodor Tyutchev. The moments of destinationcan draw out into years… but it’s yet more important for experts and enlightened statesmen to behave as mindful guests invited there to partake in the conversation who can listen carefully to the entire diversity of voices and parse out key unifying themes which can help to resolve problems that matter for security of the world or its individual regions, but without dodging from them behind excuses that these challenges are supposed to be dealt with by future generations. Global accountability is foremostly about being answerable to the current generation and having the skill and art to make sure that the life our children is safer and more stable rather than shifting onto their shoulders the burden we are struggling to handle ourselves.

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Russia has a unique role to play in building the new architecture of global security to replace the crumbling structures of the 20th century. The insightful Lev Gumilev, a Russian historian, saw Russia as a country with a Eurasian mission. Joseph Brodsky, Russian poet and Nobel laureate, called it Asiopa. Some scholars in what we might now call antiquated studies referred to it as Heartland. Anyway, you approach it, looking out from the ten-time-zones-spanning Russia, one can see that for us the rest of Europe is nothing more than a Far West. The Western 19th and 20th centuries proved to be short. Our playing field is our country covering the seventh part of the world’s landmass and the world around us. This world is not WesternBut it is not Eastern either… and it is not non-Western. It is a world that is not closed or close-minded towards Russia. It is a world that has not built barriers – be it walls or sanctions – against Russia. This means that our playing field is the biggest part of the world, the Global Majority which – in the words of Dr. Elena Chernenko, one of our Yearbook’s authors – is now on the rise

But Russia itself is on the rise too. After crossing the rough two decades of internal and external tribulations and having passed through the humiliating – though probably inevitable and necessary for self-education – period of fawning on the West and then on through the years of its renaissance, Russia is becoming a confident exporter of security. I am aware that in today’s context this may sound defiant. And defiance it is. Russia has taken too long a time and wasted too many words explaining itself. Russia did the explaining back in the late 1990s when the United States mobilized their Western allies and satellites against Russia, their purported partner to whom, even then, they were in fact profoundly hostile. Later Russia was at it again very early in the 21st century when it raised a red flag warning the United States against crossing the red line and destroying the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM Treaty) that Washington itself had previously called the cornerstone of international security architecture. And, finally, it was reiterated by President Vladimir Putin speaking in Munich in 2007[1]. In this edition of the Yearbook, you will find a whole section taking you back to that momentous turning point in the world’s history when Russia, speaking through its President as well as its military leadership, tried to reason with the West to preempt trouble: “Let’s talk and come to terms. But not your terms alone. We are ready to be flexible, but not amenable to make just another concession. Let’s look for compromise. Mutual respect and indivisible security are the only possible basis”. Not everybody wanted to listen. Just like they wouldn’t listen to proposals for a new European security treaty.

Today, by way of its Special Military Operation in Ukraine Russia is laying the groundwork to build new security architecture on the European continent and, broader still, to reconfigure the world order that had evolved in the 20th century. Discussing this labored and lengthy process on the pages of our Yearbook are Dr. Dmitry Trenin, Dr. Dmitry Evstafiev and Dr. Andrey Kortunov. 

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Fixation on its relations with Europe or the collective West would have been a short-sighted and damaging policy for Russian interests. Russia is a Euro-Pacific, Eurasian power looking in all the cardinal directions. Therefore, its Pivot to the East is not a tactical move, but further development of the strategic vision, outlined as early as the 1990s by Evgeny Primakov, a notable Russian politician, diplomat and scholar.

In 2024, Russia chairs BRICS. I remember how I happened to be taking part in preparations for the first BRIC summit (without South Africa yet) in December 2008. We were outside on a freezing day in the center of Moscow when a colleague from Brazil observed: “We are all here like in Pirandello’s play: characters in search of an author”. However, neither the discomforting weather, nor the initial doubts have swayed our commitment to the common objective: BRIC(S) is not against somebody but in support of the new world in financial and economic sense as well as in terms of global security. The ambitious expansion of BRICS (that Sergey Ryabkov writes about on our pages) to include Argentina, Egypt, Iran, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Ethiopia is both a sign that this forum is growing up and also a serious claim to having a significant role in global affairs.

One more driver of the expanding geography is Russia’s comeback to Africa (discussed in the Yearbook by Dr. Irina Abramova and Vsevolod Sviridov). From the historical perspective of the Russian foreign policy, this move is nothing new but rather overdue. Such tardiness, however frustrating, is not disgraceful. Whatever is really disgraceful can be found in the memories of the colonial rule and the neocolonial habits that the Africans can see with a naked eye in today’s behavior of Europeans and Americans alike. The absence of such toxic legacy is a major advantage for Russia, opening a range of opportunities to promote Russian technologies and education as well as to make a comprehensive strategic comeback to Africa without encroaching on the sovereignty of African nations and without the arrogance of a neocolonial mentor.

Security Index Yearbook consists of eight parts and 29 chapters.

Part I focuses on particular aspects of global security in the times of transition to a multipolar world. This part is inaugurated by nine chapters, which cover a wide range of issues related to war and peace in the realm of the current Ukrainian crisis, nuclear nonproliferation with its three pillars and arms control, new types of conventional weapons, lethal autonomous weapons, outer space, international terrorism and cybersecurity. Do we really recognize all the threats we are currently facing? Are they new or, maybe, just informed for many previous years? Do we have bravery to deal with them? And what does Russia think and what propose to do in particular? 

Chapter 1 by Dr. Dmitry Trenin analyzes implications of the crisis in Ukraine, including dramatic transformations for both Russia and the whole world. The author underlines that conflict in Ukraine has its roots and prerequisites and put the hybrid conflict between Russian and the collective West to the wider agenda of global trends. A scrutiny analysis includes prospects for the future. Are they brighter or darker? 

Chapter 2 by Dmitry Stefanovich focuses on nuclear deterrence and arms control. The author discusses nuclear weapons modernization process, which includes delivery systems, nuclear warheads, nuclear command, control and communications, and also some developments in the field of doctrines and concepts. The author touches upon the very potential of nuclear war among nations in the future as well as strategic arms control and risk reduction against the backdrop of expiring New START Treaty in 2026. What should be done to escape nuclear apocalypse? 

Chapter 3 by Sergey Semenov discusses the risks of weakening of nuclear nonproliferation regime in the future. Russia is being portrayed to be an outsider in nuclear nonproliferation domain. But what is about others? Transferring of tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus, de-ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), suspension of the New START Treaty… Maybe, that is all the signals which Russia is sending to be heard. Or, maybe, Russia does not need nuclear nonproliferation and arms control anymore. But why? 

Chapter 4 by Dr. Alexey Ubeev focuses on peaceful nuclear technologies, on their development in the times of international tensions aggravation as well as the issues of politization of peaceful atom domain. Attention is drawn also to the situation over Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) in the context of the Russian Special Military Operation in Ukraine. 

In Chapter 5 Dmitry Stefanovich presents the views on new types of conventional weapons as a strategic factor influencing the current global security agenda in general and military potential of states in particular. The author explores the security dilemma and touches upon the problems of the comprehensive inclusion of strategic non-nuclear weapons in the arms control architecture. Have existing agreements, as well as those that are no longer with us, addressed the issue even partially? 

In Chapter 6 Ambassador Mikhail Lysenko tries to find an answer whether outer space is domain for peace of arms race. There are several aspects raised in the Chapter, including challenges to long-term outer space sustainability and militarization of outer space. Special attention is given to legal restrictions on military outer space activities and restrictions of international treaties on military uses of outer space.

Chapter 7 by Dr. Andrey Malov describes the problem of lethal autonomous weapon systems (LAWS) in the context of multinational disarmament. It covers LAWS capabilities, describes legal frameworks and analyzes their future. The author analyzes the issues of correlation between the LAWS and international humanitarian law as well.  

Chapter 8 by Dr. Elena Chernenko concentrates on the Russia’s cyber diplomacy and its evolution within the great power rivalry and development of multipolar world order. The author examines cyber cooperation between Russia and foreign countries, where a premium is put on bilateral cooperation between Russia and the US. The history of their cooperation has ups and downs as well as achievements and missed opportunities. The author underlines that nowadays Russia is experiencing a Pivot to the East, and Sino-Russian cooperation, including in the high-tech field, intensifies. But what is about prospects for cooperation in cyber domain between Russia and BRICS countries? Or Russia and Africa? 

In Chapter 9 Leonid Tsukanov assesses the threats from international terrorist organizations. The author analyzes the current state of the jihadist movement, identifying the most pressing challenges it is facing today. The author notes that despite the state of deep crisis, the threat from radical Islamists may intensify, further manifesting itself in other areas of security.

Part II focuses on specific regions and countries as well as their relations with Russia at the current stage of the world development, examining all the challenges and opportunities. The attention is paid both to friendly and unfriendly states. 

In Chapter 10 Dr. Vasily Kashin analyzes relations between Russia and China. Which format do they have – strategic partnership or alliance – and why? And what are the results already gained? Besides, the author examines China’s position to the current conflict in Ukraine and explores the development of Sino-Russian partnership in the past period. Both countries form an alignment which role in global affairs is difficult to overestimate. The author also shares his views on prospects for cooperation between Russia and China in the future. 

Chapter 11 by Dr. Vyacheslav Belokrenitsky and Dr. Ruslan Mamedov describe the evolution of the Russian foreign policy course towards the Middle East. The authors analyze Russia’s relations with the countries of the region, identify the TOP priorities for Russia and major security threats which draw the Moscow’s attention to the Middle East making Russia one of the active geopolitical players there. 

Chapter 12 by Adlan Margoev touches upon the strategic relations between Russia and Iran with focus on both positive and negative aspects of cooperation between the two states and its drivers. The author examines a variety of issues where Russia and Iran have the same positions, including policy, economy and security domain. But are there any contradictions? The author also sets number of questions that may define the future of the Russia-Iran partnership. 

Chapter 13 by Vsevolod Sviridov discusses the topic of Russia-Africa interaction, its evolution and current nature. The author analyzes the position of Africa in Russian doctrinal documents, sums up Russia-Africa cooperation results to date, and investigates the main Western narratives on the topic. The article discusses possible future directions of cooperation between Russia and African countries beyond the military sphere or food. A special place is given to disruptive technologies, as well as information and communication technologies, space, energy transition and critical minerals, capacity-building and technology transfer.

In Chapter 14 Dr. Boris Martynov follows on the discussion of relations between Russia and other countries, this time with focus on Latin America, as an independent and sovereign region with its own individual culture, especially on the attitudes of the Latin American states to international law based on their own unique political philosophy and national identity. 

In Chapter 15 Dr. Andrey Kortunov analyzes European security (destroyed) architecture with the special attention to the current crisis in Ukraine. The author emphasizes that the ambiguous relationship between the conventional and the nuclear dimension of European security is likely to remain one of the major complicating factors for any future arrangements in Europe. What is about the future of European security? And what role does Ukrainian conflict play in its (re)formation?

Chapter 16 by Dr. Maxim Suchkov provides a strong analysis on the current stage and the future of relations between Russia and the US. The author compares the current relations with the period of Cold War, however, finally he underlines that the previous era is different with what is happening now. What is the key irritator in the Russia-US relations, and will they become even worse in the future?

In Chapter 17 Elena Karnaukhova takes a glance at Greater Eurasia and Greater Eurasian Partnership in their nature. Among other aspects of the topic, she touches upon philosophical question of the place of Russia between West and East (or maybe above?), practice of functioning Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) in the current circumstances, ambiguity of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). Is it possible to build Greater Eurasia? How should we understand it? And what this concept can propose in its essence? 

Part III gives a scrutiny analysis on specific global and regional issues under a microscope – in a greater detail. 

In Chapter 18 by Dr. Vladimir Orlov and Sergey Semenov suggest the scenarios for the future of nuclear nonproliferation, in particularly dealing with the risks of nuclear weapons proliferation. The authors assess the effectiveness of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) as well as the scenarios of nuclear proliferation against the backdrop of an exacerbating global environment, notably the erosion of the US leadership. They stress 9 states / territories which can acquire nuclear weapons: Japan, South Korea, Taiwan[2], Ukraine, Türkiye, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Brazil. 

In Chapter 19 Vladimir Ladanov analyzes the AUKUS deal and its interconnection with the general Australian defense strategy. Australia is capable of creating and sustaining an independent self-sufficient defense posture. But adopting it is without a doubt a difficult policy choice and a clear break with the past which at the moment does not have majority support or even close to it. Can Australia defend for itself? Does joining AUKUS deal jeopardize Australian security in case of potential conflict between the US and China? 

In Chapter 20 Alexandra Zubenko observes the status and the goals of the French nuclear doctrine at the current stage. It dives into the questions of the existing nuclear policies, rhetoric and modernization program of France and its evolution after the start of the conflict in Ukraine. The Chapter also touches upon the prospects for France’s engagement in multilateral arms control talks with Russia.

Chapter 21 by Nikita Neklyudov, Dr. Andrey Baykov and Anatoly Shchekin describes how an international crisis may contribute to ontological security. Authors argue that ontological security can paradoxically be achieved through escalating practices capable of provoking international crises. The authors deal with the concepts of Practice Turn in international relations, habitus (disposition), and field (environment). After analyzing the connection between the two theories, they take the demise of the INF Treaty as an example of a crisis which has become a source of ontological threat to both the US and Russia. 

Part IV provides dialogues and trialogues with prominent Russian experts and high-ranking officials. These interviews are mostly done by junior Russian experts or students curious about future of global security and never shy to dig deep into the problem/solution axis.

In Chapter 22 Hon. Sergey Ryabkov provides insights on Russia’s BRICS Chairship. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister underlines that BRICS is an innovative format of interaction rather than just a union of individual states. BRICS partnership is built on mutual respect for each other’s interests and can be viewed as a basis for a fairer multipolar world order. Talking about Russia’s Chairship in BRICS Sergey Ryabkov mentions a wide range of priorities to enhancing cooperation within the forum. 

In Chapter 23 Ambassador Kirill Barsky continues our discussions about Greater Eurasia and Greater Eurasian Partnership with a focus on security threats and possible responses to dealing with them. He gives a comprehensive view on the current state of affairs at the European flank of Greater Eurasia, ASEAN attitudes to enhancing security, TOP-clashes in Asia-Pacific region as the territorial disputes over South China Sea and the situation on Korean Peninsula. Besides, he pays special attention to the Eurasian Heartland, the role of the Russian-Chinese cooperation and peculiarities of the US policy towards Eurasia. His thoughts and considerations based on his long-term diplomatic experience are accompanied by his understanding of the philosophy and destiny of Eurasia as a conflict between the Earth and the Sea. 

In Chapter 24 Dr. Dmitry Trenin addresses Pax Americana and evolution of our global order. Special attention is paid to the role and specifics of the functioning of the UN, the current Ukrainian crisis, the risks and factors of the erosion of the nuclear nonproliferation regime, the fear of nuclear weapons, nuclear taboo, the concept escalate to de-escalate and much more. Where is the world going? What does the crisis of the US-centered world order mean? How are the nuclear nonproliferation regime and American hegemony interconnected? What is the phenomenon of nuclear multipolarity? Are we moving towards the use of nuclear weapons on the battlefield? All the most important, relevant, burning issues at the forefront of the global security agenda are covered in this Chapter.

In Chapter 25 Dr. Irina Abramova discusses the outcome of Russia-Africa summits in 2019 and 2023. Boosting relations between Russia and Africa – is this mission possible? Have all agreements been fulfilled so far? And what are the obstacles to overcome?  It is underlined that Russia and Africa have common interests, and they are strategic, not tactical.  She also touches upon the Russian competitors in the region as well as stereotypes towards Africa and Africa multi-faces in our perception. 

In Chapter 26 Dr. Dmitry Polikanov addresses the role of soft power tools that Russia uses in building its positioning on the global arena. Through the prism of values and national priorities, cultural and educational projects he considers the key mechanisms of the formation and implementation of Russian soft power. But is it a real tool or just a phantom? Does it have strong influence abroad? Attention is also paid to major impediments for the progress in this area.

We decided to add Part V Back to the Future with the two articles which were previously published in Security IndexJournal in 2007. Why? Just in order to demonstrate that we made an effort to be heard and to explain already at that the world could go in a wrong direction. 

Chapter 27 by General Yury Baluevskiy discusses globalization and its manifestations. The relevance of his thoughts had only increased over the years. The author doubted the globalization as a phenomenon and was concerned about its future. However, the focus of author was put on Russia’s interests – which were determined on the basis of its historical development – in the changing world. The author examined Russia’s role in global affairs, challenges that Moscow faced and its prospects. The text became prophetic. It is worth reading to make sure.  

In Chapter 28 Dr. Evgeny Primakov discussed with General Gennady Evstafiev the situation in the Middle East, and assessed American role in the region. Despite the fact that the interview was conducted in 2006 and published in 2007, it remains extremely popular and relevant nowadays as well. Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Iranian nuclear program, the US policy in the Middle East and the prospects of multipolarity – all these issues were overwhelmingly described by the prominent Russian politician, state servant and expert Evgeny Primakov. Developments in the world which took place in 2023 proved again that the core of the processes is much complicated that we might think. 

Part VI takes the challenge to look into the near-term future. It may be a risk that the reader opening it in 2024 or 2025 will compare it with the realities… But Dr. Dmitry Evstafiev decided to take this challenge in Chapter 29. The author believes that the priority 2024-2025 objective for the biggest players is to design barriers to backstop escalation of political and military tensions. This risk of uncontrolled escalation has significantly increased over the recent years and demands additional solutions that most likely lie outside the framework of the classic international law and post-1991 institutional architecture.

Part VII includes the reviews on new books and research papers published in Russia and by Russian experts and devoted to security issues. 

Part VIII is a review of the TOP events in global and regional security in 2023.  

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The Security Index Yearbook is a successor to the Security Index Journal which was published from 1994 to 2016 in Russian and English (initially, under the title of YadernyKontrol) and distributed globally via the publishing houses of PIR Press and Routledge Francis & Taylor Group within the framework of the projects run by PIR Center. A total of 119 issues were published. From 2017 the Security Index has been published as a non-periodical series in the form of occasional papers with 38 issues produced by now. I am especially grateful to my colleagues and friends who have for all those years helped to sustain and develop our publication activities: Dr. Yury Baturin, Dr. Sergey Brilev, Dr. Dmitry Evstafiev, Dr. Vadim Kozyulin, General Vasily Lata, Azer Mursaliev, Dr. Dmitry Polikanov, Ambassador Sergey Ryabkov, Ambassador Nikolay Spassky, Dr. Ekaterina Stepanova, and Albert Zulkharneev; and to those who have already passed away: Gennady Evstafiev, Evgeny Maslin and Roland Timerbaev. My special thanks go to Academician Anatoly Torkunov who has always been generous in providing intellectual support and green light to a number of PIR Center’s initiatives and joint projects with MGIMO University, dating back to 1996. His support of the idea of this Yearbook and of its concept have been key to the implementation of this project. 


[1] Speech and the Following Discussion at the Munich Conference on Security Policy // Official Website of the Russian President, February 10, 2007. URL: http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/transcripts/24034

[2] Indicating Taiwan separately here does not imply recognition of its independent status. We consider Taiwan as a part of the People’s Republic of China – Editor’s Note.