Russia Views US Global Leadership As Military Threat

By Patrick Goodenough | August 6, 2008 | 4:59 AM EDT

Moscow’s latest defense policy blueprint concedes that the U.S. will remain the sole superpower, and it cites America’s global leadership as one of the security threats facing Russia.

Moscow ( – Moscow’s latest defense policy blueprint concedes that the U.S. will remain the sole superpower, and it cites America’s global leadership as one of the security threats facing Russia.
Other global and regional military threats to Russia include violations of arms control treaties, military operations conducted by some nations in contravention of international law, and NATO expansion in areas neighboring Russia, says the new document, leaked to Russian media.
Entitled “Concept to Develop the Russian Armed Forces Until 2030,” the blueprint warns that the deployment of the U.S. missile defense systems in Europe and the Far East could undermine the existing balance of strategic forces and threaten global stability.
It says Russia will therefore continue to develop land-based, naval and airborne strategic forces, while also enhancing defense systems to tackle threats from space.
“The U.S. will sustain its position of a sole superpower and exert significant influence on global military and political developments,” the document predicts.
By 2030, it says, Washington and NATO allies will seek to weaken international institutions. In order to legitimize their unilateral actions, the West will seek legal recognition of NATO as the only organization in the world with discretionary powers to use force.
The Russian document emerged shortly after the release of a new U.S. National Defense Strategy which, while prioritizing the fight against terrorism and related small-scale conflicts, also said the U.S. military must be prepared for potential threats from “more powerful states” such as China and Russia.
“I don't see either nation as a threat to the United States at this point,” Defense Secretary Robert Gates said last week. “But they both are investing in modernization programs that are of concern.”
The U.S. strategy, released on July 31, accused Russia of a “retreat from democracy” and of “increasing economic and political intimidation of its neighbors.” Although Russia was not expected to revert to outright global military confrontation, the risk of miscalculation or conflict arising from economic coercion had increased, it warned.
Russia has threatened to respond militarily to the presence of a U.S. anti-missile shield near its border. Washington and Prague last month reached an agreement on deployment of a U.S. radar base in the Czech Republic, and the U.S. also wants to station missile interceptors in Poland as part of the planned system.
Designed to defend against rogue missile attacks from countries like Iran, the U.S. system is capable of intercepting individual warheads, and the Pentagon has repeatedly stated that it is not meant to shield against Russia’s ballistic missile arsenal.
Nonetheless, Moscow has been working on plans to equip new missiles with multiple warheads, thus reducing their potential vulnerability to a missile-destroying umbrella.
After President Bush pulled out of the 1972 Antiballistic Missile Treaty in order to pursue the new missile defense program, Russia announced it no longer felt bound by previous agreements that prohibited missiles with multiple warheads.
In late 2005, Russia tested a sea-based solid-fuel Bulava missile, which can carry up to 10 individually-guided nuclear warheads and has a range of up to 5,000 miles. Officials said the Navy would have the Bulava by the end of 2007, although the deployment has been slow to materialize.
On August 1, an unidentified ballistic missile was launched from a submerged Russian strategic nuclear submarine in the Barents Sea, reportedly landing as targeted on a firing range on the Kamchatka peninsula in Russia’s far east.
The Kremlin last year also outlined a $214 billion weapons modernization program for the period up until 2015, involving the deployment of 34 new silo-based and 50 mobile-launched Topol-M missile, a weapon Russia claims is capable of overcoming any missile defense system.
Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow