June 5. 2023. 4:18

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Russia seeks to meet ‘existential threats’ in new foreign policy doctrine

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday (31 March) that the country faced “existential threats” to its security from “unfriendly states” as he presented President Vladimir Putin with an updated foreign policy doctrine.

The 42-page document sets out changes to Russia’s view of the world – in particular its increasingly confrontational relationship with the West – that have already taken shape and have often been articulated by Putin in recent years.

Lavrov said the start of what Moscow calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine had ushered in “revolutionary changes” in world affairs that now needed to be reflected in Russia’s main foreign policy document.

He told an online meeting of Russia’s Security Council that the new concept outlined how Russia could take “symmetric and asymmetric measures in response to unfriendly actions against Russia”.

Russia’s Western foes were trying to “weaken Russia in every possible way”, Lavrov said.

According to a Kremlin transcript, Lavrov describes the document a de facto handbook for Russian diplomats, as setting straight “the unprecedented level of international tension over the past decade”.

“The existential nature of threats to the security and development of our country, created by the actions of unfriendly states, is recognized. As the main initiator and conductor of the anti-Russian line the United States of America are directly named, as well as the overall policy of the West, aimed at the across-the-board weakening of Russia, which is a hybrid war of a new type”, Lavrov is quoted as saying.

But it also says that European states “should realise there is no alternative to peaceful coexistence and mutually beneficial equal cooperation with Russia”.

It calls for Russia to maintain “strategic stability” with the United States – a reference to the nuclear capabilities of the two countries – despite having suspended the New START treaty, the last remaining nuclear arms control pact between the two sides, in February.

According to the Kremlin transcript, Putin called the document “balanced” and instructed relevant ministers “to pay special attention to expanding ties with constructive partners and creating conditions for unfriendly states to abandon their hostile policy towards our country”.

Russia says the recourse to nuclear weapons is justified in case of “existential threat” for the country. Western experts said the disturbing formulation has now deliberately been used with the purpose of undermining the Western public opinion support for the continued military assistance to Ukraine.

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