Threat perceptions

The US Defense Intelligence Agency has issued a report entitled Russia. Military Power: Building a Military to Support Great Power Aspirations, which you can read here. This has the following to say about Russia’s strategic objectives:

Moscow seeks to promote a multi-polar world predicated on the principles of respect for state sovereignty and non-interference in other states’ internal affairs, the primacy of the United Nations, and a careful balance of power preventing one state or group of states from dominating the international order.

You might say that this is a statement of the blindingly obvious, but what is interesting is what it doesn’t say, that is anything on the lines of “Russia is an aggressive, imperialist power bent on invading her neighbours, restoring the Soviet empire, and destroying the existing international system.” The statement that Russia supports the “primacy of the United Nations” and a “balance of power” in order to maintain the “international order” is quite a striking riposte to the often-repeated claim that Russia seeks to overthrow “the rules-based global system.”

Next the report analyzes ‘Russia’s threat perceptions’, and notes that Russia’s actions “belie a deeply entrenched sense of insecurity regarding a United States that Moscow believes is intent on undermining Russia at home and abroad.” Furthermore:

Russia also has a deep and abiding distrust of U.S. efforts to promote democracy around the world and what it perceives as a U.S. campaign to impose a single set of global values. Moscow worries that U.S. attempts to dictate a set of acceptable international norms threatens the foundations of Kremlin power by giving license for foreign meddling in Russia’s internal affairs. … Moscow views the United States as the critical driver behind the crisis in Ukraine and the Arab Spring and believes that the overthrow of former Ukrainian President Yanukovych is the latest move in a long-established pattern of U.S.-orchestrated regime change efforts, including the Kosovo campaign, Iraq, Libya, and the 2003–05 “color revolutions” in Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan.

This is also pretty obvious, and one doesn’t need a $4 billion a year agency to come up with this stuff, but it’s interesting that at least somebody in the American security establishment is willing to admit that people elsewhere in the world don’t all appreciate what the United States is doing. Unfortunately, all intelligence agencies can do is point out the facts. It’s up to politicians to decide what to do about them. If the evidence of the past is anything to go by, they aren’t too interested in hearing the other side’s point of view. This report will no doubt raise alarms in Washington about how Russia is modernizing its armed forces. What the report has to say about why Russia is doing so will probably be ignored.

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16 thoughts on “Threat perceptions”

  1. “Moscow seeks to promote a multi-polar world predicated on the principles of respect for state sovereignty and non-interference in other states’ internal affairs, the primacy of the United Nations, and a careful balance of power preventing one state or group of states from dominating the international order.”

    How dare they! With enemies you know where they stand but with national sovereigntists, who knows? What makes a man turn to respect state sovereignty and non-interference in other states’ internal affairs? Lust for gold? Power? Or were they just born with hearts full of… multi-polarity!?

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  2. UPD.

    “You might say that this is a statement of the blindingly obvious, but what is interesting is what it doesn’t say, that is anything on the lines of “Russia is an aggressive, imperialist power bent on invading her neighbours, restoring the Soviet empire, and destroying the existing international system.” “

    No. Instead, the report says this:

    “The new Russian military is a tool that can be used to underpin Moscow’s stated ambitions of being a leading force in a multipolar world.

    […]

    Russia’s desire to be a leader in a multipolar world and recapture the “great power” status it had in Tsarist times and the latter days of the Soviet Union requires a force capable of deterring aggression, fghting the range of conflicts from local crises to nuclear war, projecting power and employing force if necessary to intervene in conflicts across the globe. Despite an economic slowdown that will affect the Russian military’s timeline for building all of its planned
    capabilities, Russia is rapidly felding a modern force that can challenge adversaries and support its “great power” aspirations”

    Which basucally the same old “Hurr, durr, Rusha wants to rebuild Empire, hurr, durr!” diatribe packaged differently.

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    1. So Russia wants to be a great power among other great powers in a multi-polar world that is respectful of national sovereignty. Considering the build up of NATO forces on the Russian border is it a wonder they feel the need for a strong military with the ability to defend themselves and mediate and maintain order within their immédiate geopolitical sphere. Seriously what level of credibility does the US have with its illegal military actions within the ME and an insistance on regime change to US friendly regimes.

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      1. Putin has stated his goal of a multi-polar world in balance many times. It is the US who wants hegemony and who therefore needs an enemy in Russia and China for a casus belli that would eliminate those two powers and subjugate their populations under the US system.

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  3. I read the ‘Trolls’ section.

    It’s sourced by three links. One is the NYT piece written by Adrian Chen. I tried to follow his investigation of the “ColumbianChemicals” hoax, which he claims to be “a highly coordinated disinformation campaign” perpetrated by Russian “Internet Research Agency”. I found his evidence tenuous, his story convoluted and full of irrelevant details.

    The second link is Shaun Walker. Of course.

    And their third source is a piece in Jeff Bezos’ operation, Business Insider. It accuses 5 states of using internet bots to spread political propaganda. No western states among them, obviously. It’s Mexico, Turkey, Russia, Venezuela, and Ecuador (Ecuador! Wtf?). The Russian segment has 3 sentences and links to Shaun Walker, same piece.

    Incidentally, the DOD document is not well-edited: the same Adrian Chen’s piece is footnoted twice, as 304 and 307. Oh well, I guess they probably only spent 10 billion dollars or so to produce it…

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    1. …in general, I find it cute that official reports by government agencies are sourced by mass-media, and then mass-media will, no doubt, quote these official reports as the infallible truth. All kneel to Shaun Walker! I think this innovation might soon replace the ‘sources in the intelligence community’…

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      1. Classic circular reporting. It reminds me of the occasion a dozen or so years ago when MI5 was trying to get a British court to slap a control order on a suspected terrorist. As corroboration of its claim that the person was a terrorist, the government lawyer cited articles in the press which claimed as much. It turned out, however, that the source for the articles was MI5!!

        So, MI5 leaks information to the press, and then cites that information as confirmation of its claims from a secondary source.

        Genius.

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    2. They equate trolls to regular military (why not ICBMS?!).

      I say! I demand a personal silo, camonet, a platoon of soldiers at my beck and call, a daily ration of “Rollton” noodles and… a cistern or two of medical spirits for “cleaning of optics”!

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  4. The problem is that America’s power-mad “leadership” will still interpret that first paragraph to mean that Russia is a threat. Whether they are will to risk WW3 in the process remains to be seen, but they might just be stupid enough to do it.

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  5. UPD #2

    This report is a gift that keeps delivering! You thought that Putin is new Stalin? Ha! You are wrong – he’s (apparently) new Enver Hoxha!

    “Deep underground command posts both within and outside of Moscow are interconnected by a network of special deep subway lines that provide leadership a quick and secure means of evacuation. The leadership can move from their peacetime offces through concealed entryways to protective quarters beneath the city. A deep underground facility at the Kremlin and an enormous underground leadership bunker adjacent to Moscow State University are intended for the National Command Authority in wartime. They are estimated to be 200–300 meters deep and can accommodate an estimated 10,000 people.

    The leadership can remain beneath Moscow or travel along the special subway lines that connect these urban facilities to their preferred deep underground command posts outside the city, and possibly to the VIP terminal at Vnukovo Airfeld, 27 kilometers southwest of the Kremlin. Two of the most important underground complexes for the National command. Authority and General Staff are located some 60 kilometers south of the city.

    The support infrastructure for the UGFs in and around Moscow is substantial. A highly redundant communications system, consisting of both on-site and remote elements, allows the leadership to send orders and receive reports. Highly effective life support systems may permit independent operations for many months following a nuclear attack.”

    Putin – behind 700 000 bunkers!

    If you ask living not by a lie ™ people who claim this sh… stuff:

    The answer is кокаинум this footnote at the end of the report: “1991 Military Forces in Transition. U.S. Department of
    Defense, Sep 1991, p. 40”

    That’s right. They use a paper from 1991 to speak about the present policy of “Putin’s Russia”. Because…. because! Anyway – the “Daily Star” already ran with “Vladimir Putin readying NUCLEAR WAR bunkers amid threat of ‘US strike on Russia'” story. So – yeah. Totally comrade Hoxha:

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  6. That is why the US needs the CIA: one intel service comes up with this peaceful assessment of Russia – what regular people who read the Russian and non-hysterical western media long knew – and another, usually the CIA will then dement the truer report because how can the US attain hegemony if Russia isn’t the enemy to be subjugated by force under US tutelage?

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