Confidential Advice: Nikolay Patrushev: Changes in the World Required Revising the Very Concept of ‘Ensuring National Security’

Text of report by the website of government-owned Russian newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta on 30 May

[Interview with RF Security Council Secretary Nikolay Platonovich Patrushev by Rossiyskaya Gazeta Correspondent Ivan Yegorov, date and place not specified: "Confidential Advice: Nikolay Patrushev: Changes in the World Required Revising the Very Concept of ‘Ensuring National Security’"]

Nikolay Patrushev: Problems of international security and the situation taking shape in CIS space are among the priorities; photo RG [Rossiyskaya Gazeta] archive

The RF Security Council is celebrating its first "adult" 20-year anniversary these days. It must be said that the Sovbez [Security Council] never has been especially in the public eye and to this day the majority of citizens have a poor idea about what in fact it does. Many believe it simply is an advisory body which prepares all kinds of reports on various subjects, but this is far from so. As a matter of fact, it is the Security Council that is responsible for drafting practically all conceptual doctrinal documents in our country. By the way, the majority of documents which pass through the Sovbez have a security classification, and all sessions are closed to the press except for a brief introductory part. And this is understandable, because national security topics, from development of the defence establishment to fighting terrorism, most often are on the agenda.

In his first interview since his reassignment, RF Security Council Secretary Nikolay Patrushev told Rossiyskaya Gazeta just what the RF Security Council is in fact and what kind of threats face our country today.

[RG] Nikolay Platonovich, when the Sovbez was established two decades ago we lived in an entirely different country. It is understandable that the country we remember in the 1990s and the one we have now differ dramatically. How much did the Sovbez influence Russia’s development in these years?

[Patrushev] The Security Council was founded in 1992 in accordance with RF Presidential Edict No 547. Boris Yeltsin was its first chairman, then Vladimir Putin from 2000 through 2008, Dmitriy Medvedev from 2008 through 2012, and now Vladimir Putin again.

The principle of ensuring individual security has been put in first place for the first time.

Security Council work always has been tied in the closest way with those domestic and foreign policy processes taking place in a certain time period.

In the 1990s it was the period of formation of new Russian statehood, liberalization of economic relationships, and the process of the first reorganizations in security structures, the Armed Forces, and special services.

Issues of fighting international terrorism and extremism moved to the foreground at the end of the 20th and beginning of the 21st century. There was opposition to attempts by well trained and well armed bands of mercenaries to split the country. As RF SB [Security Council] secretary in 1999, Putin played a very important role in preserving Russia’s territorial integrity. Beginning in 2000, already having become Security Council chairman, he continued the work of strengthening law and order and national security. I consider it to the credit of the leadership of the country, including of the Security Council, that we were able to turn the situation around and protect the constitutional system; to establish a highly effective system for countering crime and terrorism; to substantially increase industrial production and the amount of GDP; to elevate the role of state institutions; and to form a civil society and capable political system.

Since 2008, under Medvedev’s leadership and within the Security Council framework, fundamental phases of Armed Forces and MVD reform and steps to counter consequences of the international financial crisis were discussed, a programme for funding the Gosoboronzakaz [State Defence Order] was examined, and decisions were made in the period of the Russian-Georgian conflict.

[RG] Have security threats and problems become fewer for Russia today or, conversely, have new and more serious ones appeared?

[Patrushev] The following are among priority subjects at the present time: the threat of stationing the PRO [missile defence] system in Europe, opposition to international organized crime and drug trafficking, and the problem of security in the Asiatic region following withdrawal of the foreign contingent from Afghanistan in 2014. And also the situation over Iran’s nuclear programme, the situation in Syria, consequences of the "colour revolutions" in North Africa, and other issues.

Twenty years represent a brief period in development of the country and the world, but during this period the country experienced acts of international terrorism, the pressure of nationalism, and mass information influence from outside. It strengthened its positions as a sovereign democratic state.

Russia regained the position of a world power capable of defending its national interests in the world arena and ensuring socioeconomic development of territories and an improvement in its citizens’ quality of life. The main values of the Russian nation – spirituality, patriotism, the attitude towards our common history, and unity of cultures of Russia’s multinational people – were preserved through common efforts.

We occupied a leading position in the world as a guarantor of strategic and regional stability, an influential player in the modern multipolar world, and a very important element in CIS space.

The Security Council played an important role in resolving these complex, system-oriented problems as a body coordinating the work of state structures to develop and implement solutions in the area of domestic, foreign, and military policy, of military-technical cooperation, and of economic and information security.

[RG] Insofar as possible, reveal the "nitty-gritty" of how the Security Council functions.

[Patrushev] The Security Council is a constitutional body spelled out in the Basic Law. It is headed by the President of Russia as chairman by virtue of his position. The Security Council includes permanent members as well as members in an advisory capacity. The Security Council secretary is appointed by the RF president, is directly subordinate to the latter, and organizes Security Council work. On the secretary’s recommendation, the RF President makes the decision to include someone in the Security Council or exclude them from it. By the way, last week the head of state approved proposals for making changes in Security Council personnel.

Strategically important subjects are brought up at Security Council sessions, and Security Council permanent members and members are invited to attend. Operational conferences involving only permanent members also are held for discussing current and future issues, usually on a weekly basis. Depending on issues being considered, other persons also can be invited to sessions in the capacity of experts.

For example, there was a session this April on questions of state migration policy. Problems of energy and food security, climate change threats, directions of development of shipbuilding and aircraft building sectors, and so on were considered earlier. In the near future we plan to discuss questions of OPK [defence-industrial complex] development in a session format.

[RG] What are the status and powers of the Sovbez from the standpoint of legislation, and is a change in them possible?

[Patrushev] The Security Council’s legal status is determined by the Constitution, by the Law "On Security" of 28 December 2010, and by a number of presidential edicts. The Law "On Security," drafted under Security Council aegis as an elaboration of the National Security Strategy up to 2020, was adopted by the State Duma in 2010. It is important to note that for the first time it defines state policy in ensuring national security and also confirms the Security Council’s status, main tasks, and functions.

The Statute "On the Security Council," approved by presidential edict, formalizes powers of the secretary and the Security Council apparatus he heads, including to hold operational conferences, strategic planning conferences, and field conferences in federal districts; and [organize and coordinate] activities of interdepartmental commissions formed in accordance with the main tasks and directions of activity, as well as of the Scientific Council under the Security Council, which includes the best representatives of Russia’s academic and expert community.

The established legislative base formulated Security Council powers more precisely, permitting a concentration of work to shape and implement long-range policy in the main directions for ensuring national security and Russia’s socioeconomic development.

[RG] For long years after the USSR’s disintegration Russia did not have a "national security" concept at all, and suddenly all our enemies and threats disappeared at once and we became open and friendly. This position almost led the country to ultimate disaster. Cardinal changes began only in the late 1990s. That was when the National Security Concept was adopted. How timely was this document and to what extent was it able to prevent negative scenarios of the development of events?

[Patrushev] In 1997 the Security Council adopted a fundamental document for that time, the RF National Security Concept, and updated it in the 2000 version. This permitted organizing the national security system according to spheres of its assurance, reacting to emerging challenges and threats, and taking steps to neutralize crisis situations.

The Concept, which was a political document, specified basic interests of security of the individual, society, and the state. The principle of ensuring security of the individual was put in first place for the first time.

Security Council work of the late 1990s and early 2000s concentrated on accomplishing priority tasks in the area of military, defence-industrial, state, and public security as well as on developing measures for settling crisis situations both within the country as well as in various regions of the world.

Problems connected with protecting the constitutional system and sovereignty, countering international terrorism and extremism, and ensuring security in the border sphere held a significant place in Security Council work. Resolution of these issues permitted protecting national interests in this difficult period for the country.

[RG] What necessitated drafting a new National Security Strategy?

[Patrushev] Changes taking place in the world, the transition to multipolarity, emerging problems of the country’s development, and the increasing complexity of tasks of ensuring national security demanded a revision of views that existed in Russia at the beginning of the 21st century on the very content of the concept of "ensuring national security."

Attempts at forceful approaches in international relations and consequences of the world financial crisis began to have an increasingly negative impact on the protection of Russia’s national interests. Contradictions among the main participants of world politics were exacerbated; threats of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, including their possible use by international terrorists, formed; and global information conflict [protivoborstvo] intensified.

There were increased threats involving uncontrolled and illegal migration, the drug trade, human trafficking, and other forms of transnational organized crime.

Insufficient rates of transition to an innovation-driven economy, problems of a high level of the population’s social stratification in regional development, and [insufficient rates] of increasing the effectiveness of state management began to be clearly manifested.

All this demanded a new understanding of principles of ensuring national security, and specifically a clear determination of the interrelationship and interdependence of security and development. The need arose for forming a new state policy in ensuring national security that was inseparably connected with questions of the country’s stable socioeconomic development. Accomplishing this strategically important task became one of the fundamental themes in Security Council work.

Based on political guidelines of the president of Russia, Russia’s National Security Strategy up to 2020 was drafted, adopted by the Security Council, and approved by Presidential Edict of 12 May 2009.

The Strategy officially incorporated a system of strategic priorities, goals, and measures in domestic and foreign policy determining the status of national security and level of the state’s stable development for the long-term outlook.

"Security through development" is becoming a key principle of strategic planning. Its essence is that reliable assurance of security is possible only through the country’s stable socioeconomic development.

That approach permits activating not only force capabilities, but also the economic, scientific-technical, and human potential in the interests of security of the individual, society, and the state. This requires adoption of preemptive strategic decisions for the long-term outlook.

[RG] Tell us, is "security through development" purely Russian know-how or are other countries also using it?

[Patrushev] In drawing up the draft Strategy we took into account foreign experience, but discovered nothing similar. Nevertheless, we figured this to be urgent and important. At the present time other countries also are taking this approach to questions of ensuring national security and today it is seeing increasingly broad dissemination, which confirms the correctness of our decision.

The US National Security Strategy adopted in 2010 does not view military might as the main means of ensuring national security and national interests. National security is ensured through a combination of political-diplomatic, military, economic, ideological, and other measures. Largely similar approaches to ensuring security are characteristic of Great Britain, where one of the most important state functions is to protect the interests of citizens and social groups and ensure their secure vital activities. This trend also is traced in French documents on ensuring national security.

[RG] What priority issues face the Security Council now?

[Patrushev] Problems of international security and situations taking shape in the CIS space have been considered priorities in recent years. And also issues connected with implementing the strategic national priorities "state and public security," "national defence," and "improving the quality of life of Russian citizens."

Great significance is attached to forming and implementing regional policy in Russia. A balanced development of RF components and federal districts on the whole is one of the central tasks of ensuring national security and holds a significant place in our work.

Serious backlogs of accomplishment have been made in creating contemporary Armed Forces. Special services and law enforcement entities received a new legislative base, a system for countering terrorism has been created, and fundamental strategic planning documents have been drafted and adopted: National Security Strategy, Law "On Security," Military Doctrine, Food Security Doctrine, Migration Policy Concept, and others, implementation of which facilitates a strengthening of democracy and the RF political system.

In 20 years the Security Council has been a reliable support for the head of state in the course of preparing decisions on the main issues of protecting interests of the individual, society, and state against domestic and foreign threats and following a unified state policy in ensuring national security closely tied in with tasks of Russia’s dynamic socioeconomic development.

Source: Rossiyskaya Gazeta website, Moscow, in Russian 30 May 12

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