National Security Strategy 2021, the US versus Russia
National Security Strategy 2021 was signed and released by President Putin in Russia, on July 3, 2021. The similar document, Interim National Security Strategic Guidance was released by President Biden in the US, in March 2021 (the actual NSS comes later). Both documents will be shortly presented here below and then comparatively analyzed.
National Security Strategy 2021 of the United States
(Interim guidance in March 2021, the actual NSS comes later)
Starting with “Introduction”, President Biden discloses his view on today’s world by stating that “America’s fate is inextricably linked to events beyond our shores”. He goes on by listing the most challenging events and processes of today like a global pandemic, a crushing economic downturn, a crisis of racial justice, a deepening climate emergency, receding democracy, growing rivalry with China, Russia and other authoritarian states and a technological revolution that is reshaping every aspect of human lives. All these challenges require a new and broader understanding of national security, one that recognizes that the US role in the world depends upon American’s strength and vitality at home.
The Global Security Landscape
Many of the biggest threats are global and must be met with collective action. Pandemics and other biological risks, the escalating climate crisis, cyber and digital threats, international economic disruptions, protracted humanitarian crises, violent extremism and terrorism and the proliferation of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction all pose profound dangers. None can be effectively addressed by one nation acting alone. However, democracies across the globe, including the Americans, are increasingly under siege.
Distribution of power across the world is changing and creating new threats. China, in particular, has rapidly become more assertive. Russia remains determined to enhance its global influence and play a disruptive role on the world stage. Both Beijing and Moscow have invested heavily in efforts meant to check US strengths and prevent it from defending US interests and allies around the world. Regional actors like Iran and North Korea continue to pursue game-changing capabilities and technologies, while threatening US allies and partners and challenging regional stability. Terrorism and violent extremism, both domestic and international, remain significant threats.
Biden continues by saying that “amid rapid change and mounting crisis, the system’s flaws and inequities have become apparent worldwide. Together with our allies and partners, we can modernize the architecture of international cooperation for the challenges of this century, from cyber threats to climate change, corruption and digital authoritarianism.” He adds finally that “running beneath many of these broad trends is a revolution in technology that poses both peril and promise.”
Our National Security Priorities
Biden firstly lists the vital national interests of the United States
- to protect the security of the American people
- to expand economic prosperity and opportunity but redefining economic interests in terms of working families’ livelihoods, rather than corporate profits or aggregate national wealth
- to realize and defend the democratic values of the American way of life
Then he lists the tasks in ensuring the US national security:
- Defend and nurture the underlying sources of American strength, including our people, our economy, our national defense, and our democracy at home
- Promote a favorable distribution of power to deter and prevent adversaries from directly threatening the United States and our allies, inhibiting access to the global commons, or dominating key regions
- Lead and sustain a stable and open international system, underwritten by strong democratic alliances, partnerships, multilateral institutions and rules
Alliances and partnerships
Biden repeats again that these tasks cannot be carried out alone but promise to reinvigorate and modernize the US alliances and partnerships around the world, in order to contain particularly China. That is why, Biden adds, “we will reaffirm, invest in, and modernize the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and our alliances with Australia, Japan, and the Republic of Korea – which, along with our other global alliances and partnerships, are America’s greatest strategic asset.”
Biden promises to deepen partnerships with India, New Zealand, as well as Singapore, Vietnam, Pacific Island states and other Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states, to advance shared objectives. He also promises the American recommitment to transatlantic partnerships, with the European Union and the United Kingdom. He also mentions special partnerships with Canada and Mexico.
In the Middle East, Biden assures to maintain “ironclad commitment to Israel’s security”, while seeking to further its integration with its neighbors and resuming the US role as promoter of a viable two-state solution. The US operations go on to deter Iranian aggression and threats to sovereignty and territorial integrity, disrupt al-Qaeda and related terrorist networks and prevent an ISIS resurgence. He also mentions shortly to continue to build partnerships in Africa, investing in civil society and strengthening long-standing political, economic, and cultural connections.
He shortly mentions nuclear weapons, non-proliferation and arms control before stating that “in advancing America’s interests globally, we will make smart and disciplined choices regarding our national defense and the responsible use of our military, while elevating diplomacy as our tool of first resort. A powerful military matched to the security environment is a decisive American advantage. The United States will never hesitate to use force when required to defend our vital national interests. We will ensure our armed forces are equipped to deter our adversaries, defend our people, interests, and allies and defeat threats that emerge.”
In the face of strategic challenges from an “increasingly assertive” China and “destabilizing” Russia, the US will assess the appropriate structure, capabilities, and sizing of the force, which mean that defending America also means setting clear priorities within the defense budget.
The United States should not, and will not, engage in “forever wars” that have cost thousands of lives and trillions of dollars, by ending America’s longest war in Afghanistan during this year. The US military presence will be most robust in the Indo-Pacific and in Europe. In the Middle East, the US will “right-size” its military presence to the level required to disrupt international terrorist networks, deter Iranian aggression and protect other vital US interests.
Biden promises the US will continue to defend access to the global commons, including freedom of navigation and overflight rights, under international law. We will position ourselves, diplomatically and militarily, to defend our allies. We will support China’s neighbors and commercial partners in defending their rights to make independent political choices free of coercion or undue foreign influence. Biden underlines the US wide support to Taiwan and promises the US stand up for democracy, human rights and human dignity in Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet.
Biden assures that the US will move swiftly to earn back its position of leadership in international institutions, joining with the international community to tackle the climate crisis and other shared challenges. He mentioned that the US has re-entered the Paris Climate Accord and appointed a Presidential Special Envoy for climate, joined with the international community to combat the continuing threat posed by COVID-19 and other infectious diseases with pandemic potential.
Biden believes that America’s interests at home are best strengthened by improving lives globally and he lists a number of “world-embracing good things” like climate and environment protection, public health, nutrition, human rights, gender equality and LBGT-rights, supporting the UN and other international organizations, etc.
In today’s world, Biden says, economic security is national security and for that reason, the US trade and international economic policies must serve all Americans, not just the privileged few.
The US strength abroad requires the United States to build back better at home. A dynamic, inclusive, innovative national economy with a flourishing population is a critical American advantage that must be renewed. That starts by decisively responding to the public health and economic crises unleashed by COVID-19. Central to this agenda is building an equitable, clean, and resilient energy future, which is urgently required to head off the existential risk posed by the climate crisis. Doing so is essential to spark innovation and ensure US competitiveness in the decades to come.
As we bolster our scientific and technological base, Biden states, we will make cybersecurity a top priority, strengthening our capability, readiness, and resilience in cyberspace. We will elevate cybersecurity as an imperative across the government.
“Building back better” requires us to commit ourselves to revitalizing our own democracy. America’s ideals of democracy, equality and diversity are a fundamental and enduring source of advantage – but they are not a given. Truly building back better is impossible without advancing racial equity.
Despite significant successes against international terrorism, a diffuse and dispersed threat to Americans remains. Domestic violent extremism challenges core principles of our democracy and demands policies that protect public safety while promoting our values and respecting our laws
Biden continues that our work defending democracy does not end at our shores. Authoritarianism is on the global march and we must join with likeminded allies and partners to revitalize democracy the world over. We will stand with our allies and partners to combat new threats aimed at our democracies, ranging from cross-border aggression, cyberattacks, disinformation, and digital authoritarianism to infrastructure and energy coercion.
Biden assures that the US will coordinate the use of economic tools, leveraging the collective strength to advance the common interests, by imposing together with our partners real costs on anyone who interferes in our democratic processes. By restoring US credibility and reasserting forward-looking global leadership, we will ensure that America, not China, sets the international agenda.
Taken together, Biden notes, this agenda will strengthen our enduring advantages and allow us to prevail in strategic competition with China or any other nation. The most effective way for America to out-compete a more assertive and authoritarian China over the long-term is to invest in our people, our economy and our democracy.
Finally, for our national security strategy to be effective, it is essential to invest in our national security workforce, institutions and partnerships, inspire a new generation to public service, ensure our workforce represents the diversity of our country and modernize our decision-making processes.
This moment is an inflection point, Biden states, we are in the midst of a fundamental debate about the future direction of our world. We have to defend our democracy, strengthen it and renew it. That means building back better our economic foundations, reclaiming our place in international institutions, lifting up our values at home and speaking out to defend them around the world, modernizing our military capabilities while leading with diplomacy and revitalizing America’s network of alliances and the partnerships.
National Security Strategy 2021 of Russian Federation
Starting with “General Provisions”, there are definitions of some basic concepts like national security, national interests, strategic national priorities, threats to national security and ensuring national security. The legal basis of this strategy is Constitution of the Russian Federation. The strategy states that the modern world is going through a period of transformation, where Western countries try to maintain their hegemony in the midst of crisis, increasing imbalances and increasing instability. The world is facing growing geopolitical tensions.
Ensuring and protecting the national interests of the Russian Federation, the following strategic national priorities will be carried out:
1) protecting and saving the people of Russia and the development of human potential 2) defense of the country; 3) state and public security; 4) information security; 5) economic security; 6) scientific and technological development; 7) environmental safety and rational nature management; 8) protection of traditional Russian spiritual and moral values, culture and historical memory; 9) strategic stability and mutually beneficial international cooperation.
The rest of the strategy text is elaborating each of these nine strategic national priorities in over 100 main paragraphs. National security is ensured by achieving the goals and solving the tasks stipulated in the framework of strategic national priorities. Each of those nine items is shared with approx. coequal value (one and half pages). Some key notes have been selected in each item in the following list:
Protecting and saving the people of Russia and the development of human potential
- The people are the bearers of the sovereignty of the Russian Federation and its main asset. Russian spiritual, moral ideals and cultural and historical values, talent of the people are the basis of statehood and are the foundation for the further development of the country.
- Particular attention is paid to supporting families, mothers, fatherhood and childhood, invalids and senior citizens, upbringing children, their all-round spiritual, moral, intellectual and physical development. Actively forming conditions for a decent life for the older generation. Enhancement fertility becomes a prerequisite for increasing population of Russia
- Ensuring measures aimed at sustainable income growth and welfare of Russian citizens, creating a comfortable and a safe environment for living
Defense of the country
- Increasing military dangers and threats to the Russian Federation are facilitated by NATO in building up military infrastructure, intensifying intelligence activities and organizing large military formations and nuclear weapons near Russian borders. Planned deployment of American intermediate and shorter-range missiles in Europe and Asia-Pacific region poses a threat to strategic stability and international security
- Tensions continue to escalate in conflict zones in the post-Soviet space, in the Middle East, in the North Africa, Afghanistan and the Korean Peninsula. Weakening systems of global and regional security creates conditions for the spread of international terrorism and extremism
- Improving the military planning system, development and implementation of interrelated political, military, military-technical, diplomatic, economic, informational and other measures aimed at preventing the use of military force against Russia, protection of its sovereignty and territorial integrity
- Maintaining at a sufficient level the potential of the nuclear capability
- Protection of national interests and citizens of the Russian Federation outside its territory
- Balanced development of military organizations, building up defense capabilities, equipping armed forces and other military formations with modern weapons and other special equipment
State and public security
- Strengthening the role of the state as a guarantor of personal security and property rights, improving the efficiency law enforcement and special services to protect the foundations of the Russian constitutional system
- Prevention of interference in the internal affairs of the Russian Federation
- Increasing the effectiveness of measures to prevent and elimination of natural and man-made emergencies as well as ensuring the protection of the population from dangerous infectious diseases that can cause an emergency in the area of sanitary and epidemiological welfare of the population
- The use of information and communication technologies to intervene in internal affairs of states, undermining their sovereignty and violation territorial integrity represents a threat to international peace and security; number of computer attacks on Russian information resources is increasing significantly
- Creating conditions for effective prevention, detection and suppression of crimes and other offenses, committed using information and communication technologies
- Increasing security and resilience functioning of the unified telecommunication network of the Russian Federation, Russian segment of the Internet, other significant objects in the network of information and communication infrastructure, as well as non-admission of foreign control over their functioning
- Improvement of means and methods of providing information security based on the use of advanced technologies, including artificial intelligence technologies and quantum computing
- The world economy is in deep transformation process, market volatility increases in the international financial system, the gap between real and virtual economies widening
- Vast territory and favorable geographic position, variety of natural and climatic conditions and mineral resources, scientific and technological educational potential, macroeconomic sustainability, national defense and state security are factors that create favorable conditions for the modernization of the Russian economy, development of the industrial potential of Russia
- The goals of economic security: strengthening of the economic sovereignty of the country, increasing the competitiveness of the Russian economy and its resilience to external and internal threats, creating conditions for the economic growth of the Russian Federation, the pace of which will be higher than the world
- Maintaining macroeconomic stability and inflation at a consistently low level, ensuring sustainability the ruble and the balance of the budgetary system, ensuring sustainable development of the real sector economy
- Expansion of production of medicines and medical devices, production of domestic vaccines against infectious diseases
- Ensuring the energy security of the Russian Federation and ensuring the development of an efficient transport infrastructure and transport connectivity of the country
- Reducing the use of the US dollar when implementing foreign economic activity
Scientific and technological development
- Leadership in the development of science and technology becomes one of the key factors in the world economy – increasing competitiveness and acceleration of scientific and technological progress
- Strengthening the interaction between scientific research organizations and industrial enterprises, creating conditions for active commercialization of scientific and technical innovations; conducting scientific and technical research in the interests of the country’s defense and state security
- Creation of high-tech industries, new sectors of the economy, where markets are based on promising high technologies overcoming the critical dependence of the Russian economy from the import of technologies, equipment and components
- Accelerated implementation of advanced Russian technological innovations, localization of production in Russia
- Strengthening Russia’s leading positions and competitive advantages in aviation, shipbuilding, rocket and space industry, engine building, nuclear power-industrial complex and today also in the field of AI, information and communication technologies
Environmental safety and rational nature management
- Climate change and predatory use of natural resources lead to deteriorating of human environment
- Developing a green and low-carbon economy becomes the main issue on the international agenda; increasing competition for access to natural resources is one factor of increasing international tension and conflicts between states
- Ensuring environmentally – oriented, growth economy, stimulating the introduction of innovative technologies, development of environmentally friendly industries
- Ensuring rational and efficient use natural resources, development of the mineral resource base
- Development of capacities and technologies for cleaning emissions in atmospheric air, industrial and municipal waste water
Protection of traditional Russian spiritual and moral values, culture and historical memory
- Today’s post-modern world affects not only interstate relations but also human values. Western societies are facing with a threat of loss of traditional, spiritual and moral guidelines and stable moral principles
- Freedom becomes absolute personality, active propaganda of permissiveness is carried out, immorality and selfishness, a cult of violence is implanted, consumption and enjoyment, drug use is legalized, communities are formed that deny natural continuation of life; problems of interethnic and interfaith relations become the subject of geopolitical games and speculation, generating enmity and hatred
- Traditional Russian spiritual, moral and cultural and historical values are actively attacked by the US and its allies as well as by transnational corporations, foreign non-profit non-governmental, religious, extremist and terrorist organizations
- Protection of traditional Russian spiritual and moral values, culture and historical memory, strengthening the unity of the peoples of the Russian Federation based on all-Russian civic identity
- Strengthening the institution of the family, preserving traditional family values, the continuity of generations of Russians
- Support for traditional religious organizations and confessions, ensuring their participation in activities aimed at preservation of traditional Russian spiritual and moral values
Strategic stability and mutually beneficial international cooperation
- Countries losing their undisputed leadership are trying to dictate their own rules to other members of the international community, use means of unfair competition, apply in unilaterally restrictive measures (sanctions), openly interfere in the internal affairs of sovereign states. Such actions lead to the undermining of generally accepted principles and norms international law, weakening of existing institutions and regimes of international legal regulation, aggravation of the military-political situation and weakening of trust in the relationship between states
- Deepening cooperation with CIS-states, with members of EAEU and CSTO as well as the Republic of Abkhazia and the Republic of South Ossetia and Union State on bilateral base
- Ensuring the integration of economic systems and development multilateral cooperation within the framework of the Greater Eurasian partnerships
- Developing inclusive partnerships and strategic interaction with the People’s Republic of China, especially privileged strategic partnership with the Republic of India, including for the purpose of creating in Asia and the Pacific region of robust mechanisms to ensure regional stability and security on a non-aligned basis
- Deepening multidisciplinary cooperation with foreign states in the formats of the SCO and BRICS, strengthening the functional and institutional framework for interaction within the RIC (Russia, India, China)
- Protection of the rights and interests of citizens of the Russian Federation and Russian companies abroad
- Strengthening fraternal ties between Russian, Belarusian and Ukrainian peoples
The implementation of this Strategy is carried out at planned basis through coordinated actions of public authorities, organizations and institutions of civil society under leadership of the President of the Russian Federation.
Comparative analysis of American/Russian NSS and conclusions
This is the first time I have seen this kind of comparative analysis in any publication. Results of comparison are partly expected, partly surprising even amazing, as the reader will see here below.
Both NSS start with introduction and/or definitions and both notice that the world around their home country is in turbulence, full of all kinds of threats and problems. Both notice also, from where those threats are mainly coming; the US see them coming from “authoritarian states China and Russia”, while Russia sees them coming from Western countries. Biden believes that America’s fate is linked to “events beyond our shores”, while Russians focus mainly on their own territory. Both see terrorism and extremism still as real threats.
Power distribution, alliances and partners
The US admit that “Distribution of power across the world is changing and creating new threats”, while Russia states that “Western countries try to maintain their hegemony in the midst of crisis, increasing imbalances and increasing instability”. The US see “democracies across the globe, including the Americans, are increasingly under siege” and therefore Biden asserts time and again the importance of reinvigorating alliances and partnerships. Russia does not share such a view at all, but conversely sees NATO/the US approaching its borders as greatest national threats, therefore focusing on defensive posture.
When comparing the concepts of alliances and partners, the overall picture is quite obvious but some interesting details can be found.
The US promises to reinvigorate transatlantic relations/NATO, reaffirm relations with Australia, Japan and South Korea as well as modernize relations with New Zealand, Singapore, Vietnam and Pacific Island states. Here “the one and only”, common denominator is perceived threat of China.
Now even the European partner – NATO – has been harnessed to confront and contain the alleged military threat from China, although China has never indicated any military ambition on Europe, never in the history of humanity. “Yellow peril” seems to be easy sales article. Biden’s crusade against China is all-encompassing, besides the mainland China, he mentions Taiwan, Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet promising to intervene in all those cases.
The position of India is very interesting. Biden promises to deepen partnership with India but so does Russia as well, to develop “especially privileged strategic partnership” with the Republic of India. It remains to be seen, whose offer is the best one.
Russia’s network covers well-known CIS and CSTO, SCO and BRICS but mentioning Abkhazia and South Ossetia draw attention, as well as mentioning of “Union State”. China-Russia partnership is a natural point in NSS as well as Greater Eurasian Partnership. Interesting notes are also “protection of Russian citizens and companies” abroad and strengthening “fraternal ties between Russian, Belarusian and Ukrainian peoples”.
The US NSS promises more containing measures on Russia and especially on China worldwide and in all possible dimensions, using more economic and other sanctions as well as other relevant punitive measures, either directly by the US or by the partners.
Russia’s NSS mention measures which are reactive and defensive, stating that “Balanced development of military organizations, building up defense capabilities, equipping armed forces and other military formations with modern weapons and other special equipment” as well as “Maintaining at a sufficient level the potential of the nuclear capability”.
Key national interests
As to vital national interests, both NSS notice the security of their people are the first priority but the content and emphasis of this concept vary clearly.
Biden describes it shortly, mainly in terms seen through the modern “woke” viewpoint, mentioning economic aspect as well as racial and gender equality.
Russian concept is much more extensive and more “traditional”, besides economic aspect including supporting families, invalids and senior citizens, upbringing children, their all-round spiritual, moral, intellectual and physical development, enhancement of fertility etc. In Russian NSS, there is also a separate main point, which covers widely “protection of traditional Russian spiritual and moral values, culture and historical memory”.
Both NSS see technological development as a fundamental factor in changing world and societies in the future, opening both opportunities and threats to the humanity. As consequences and aftermath, there will be various cyber challenges, which all countries and states are facing today. Both see also environmental safety and information safety as new challenges, which can be solved together.
Last but not least, from ideological viewpoint, the new picture is staggering!
Just 30 years ago, in the last days of the Cold War, the overall confrontation setting was clear:
This kind of fundamental transformation process has taken place in the last 30 years and put all things upside-down!
Can anybody explain, How and Why?