Politics Regional

Russia updates its national security strategy amid fears of ‘stability’ subversion

The Russian government sees itself as increasingly vulnerable to foreign and domestic subversion, according to a July 3 update to the Kremlin’s 2015 national security strategy, and is moving to shield Russian citizens from outside voices and improve its influence-warfare capabilities. 

“A notable change from 2015 is the greatly expanded definition of subversion, including a long list of behavior by non-state actors that are said to be undermining Russian values and the stability of the state,” Dartmouth professor William Wohlforth said in an interview. 

These include also humanitarian organizations like Human Rights Watch and Western tech companies like Twitter and Facebook. 

The new document expresses concern over Western governments’ manipulation of Russian affairs. “The declaration of a ‘safe information space’ as a core national interest underscores the importance of information war to the Russian government,”  said Ivana Stradner, a fellowat the American Enterprise Institute specializing in law, Eastern Europe and hybrid warfare. “This is a continuation of the Russian government’s pathological self-victimhood. These claims, like Russia’s threats to ban Twitter this past spring, are aimed at bolstering Russian claims of ‘digital sovereignty’ through which President Vladimir Putin believes he can stave off the types of ‘color revolutions’ that have toppled other dictators in post-Soviet nations.”

That’s not necessarily new, even if it is new to this document, said Samuel Bendett, a CNA adviser who is an adjunct senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security.

“Russia sees itself as a target of persistent and ongoing information operations by the West against Russian Federation targets like the military and security organizations, along with critical infrastructure. This new national security strategy officially elevates these information and cyber threats to the level of an existential challenge to Russia’s long-term survival,” Bendett said.

The strategy isn’t just bad news for non-governmental organizations. It also pushes for Russia to engage other countries to partner with Russia on “cybersecurity” issues according to Russia’s definition of cyber security. 

“This is significant because Russia has already been using UN subcommittees to frustrate U.S. efforts to develop a cybercrime treaty,” Stradner said. “Russia even managed to beat out the U.S. for the UN’s approval to draft a global cybercrime treaty.” She called it “part of Russia’s broader revanchist strategy to use international organizations to regain its Soviet-era prestige and power.”

Russia scholar Mark Galeotti described the strategy as “paranoid,” particularly in the way it describes Russian “traditional values” as under constant threat from the West. 

The source: Defence One

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