Comparative Study of EU, US and Russian Security Strategies

Article co-authored with Svetlana Izosimova, Master’s student of International and European Relations at Linkoping University, Sweden.

In the context of globalization the ability to challenge internal and external threats is a precondition for development. International and national security today are inextricably linked. States acquire military capabilities not simply to defend their homelands but also to maintain global power projection capabilities. In the post-Cold War system, among the major powers whose behavior affect the security the whole international arena we have the United States, the European Union and the Russian Federation. The United States is emerging as the status quo hegemonic power, while the EU can be seen as unifying around a shy opposition to the US and as seeking to become a new pole of power. Finally, Russia during the past couple of years is trying to restore its great power influence.

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Source: Joriel “Joz” Jimenez @Flickr

Each of these major powers occupies a different position in the international system which agreeably affects their national strategies toward security and military power. By focusing on the key elements, such as major threats, strategic objectives, the ways these objectives are intended to be achieved and the position of each state regarding other actors, similarities and differences between the approaches in national security strategies can be discerned.

The European Security Strategy

Strategic objectives

The European Security Strategy (ESS) was adopted in 2003 and presents a crosscutting approach in security problems. It outlines the interests of the EU among which enlargement and prosperity, promotion of democracy and international order, reduction of climate change and vital resources security, the autonomy of EU decision-making and migration management, as well as the fundamental principles of the UN Charter and OSCE.

Key threats

The key threats challenging European security are: terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), regional conflicts, state failure, organized crime. In 2008 the threats mentioned in the European Security Strategy were extended with the Report on the implementation of the ESS: providing security in a changing world. The listed threats were completed by adding specific challenges such as climate change, cyber security and energy security.

Defense policy

To defend its security and promote its values the European Union pursues concepts based on conflict and threat prevention. Each require a mixture of instruments and patterns including economic and security cooperation, better institutional coordination, transparency and flexibility. Essential approaches to address challenging situations require political and security development through diplomacy and cooperation, crisis response and civilian and military crisis management. The expansion of the dialogue and mediation capacities is facilitated by the civil society and NGOs which are as vital actors. The ESS offers very little guidance as to the kind of military instruments. The value of military capabilities and the use of military force is discussed only in the context of crisis management where the importance of the civilian input is mostly stressed.

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Source: G8 UK @Flickr

International Cooperation

Apart from countering threats the European Security Strategy suggests two separate strategic objectives: ‘building security in our neighborhood and promoting an international order based on effective multilateralism.’ The emphasis on an effective multilateral order, both in the form of cooperation between member states and under global cooperation is a key aspect of the strategy. The key players that contribute to the international system are The United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the United States and NATO. Emphasis is also placed on the importance of expanding relationships with China, Canada, Japan, Russia. On the regional level, the EU supports collaboration with organizations such as ASEAN, MERCOSUR and the African Union.

The EU sees itself as a ‘global player’. The ESS states that the EU should be ready to share responsibility facing global challenges: ‘There are few if any problems we can deal with on our own. The threats described above are common threats, shared with all our closest partners. International cooperation is a necessity.’

The US Security Strategy

Strategic objectives

The most recent US National Security Strategy was adopted in May 2010. It is primarily focusing on issues regarding security, prosperity, and values. The strategy underlines the necessity of renewing American leadership to advance its national security interests. That includes military might, economic competitiveness, moral leadership, global engagement and efforts to shape an international system that serves cooperation to meet global challenges.

Key threats

Threats addressed by the strategy are terrorism, extremism, pandemics, the economic crisis, climate change and Arctic interests. The actions of al-Qa’ida and its affiliates are considered a prominent threat to the American nation. The U.S. National Security Strategy sees weapons of mass destruction as the greatest threat to national and international security. Furthermore, the need for better cyber-security and the dependence on fossil fuels are also defined as fundamental national security issues.

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Source: US Embassy @Flickr

Defense policy

To respond comprehensively to dangers, the US see the renovation of economy by providing education, energy, science/technology and health care as a starting point. Values such as democracy, human rights, and the rule of law are essential sources which ought to be promoted. The modernization of institutions, strengthening of international norms and enforcement of international law under US leadership is also a strategic task. The use of military force together with diplomacy, development and international norms and institutions can help resolve disagreements, prevent conflict and maintain peace. Nonproliferation entailing a reduction of the nuclear arsenal and the reduction of the reliance on nuclear weapons is also on the security agenda.

International Cooperation

The report stresses the need for international cooperation and engagement. The necessity of ensuring strong alliances through multinational cooperation and coordination is noted. The cornerstone partnership organizations remain the traditional European and Asian allies, NATO and Eastern European countries. Relations with countries such as China, India and Russia are critical to building broader cooperation on areas of mutual interest. The strategy also focuses on Iran stating that the US can offer Iran a pathway to a better future provided Iran’s leaders are prepared to take it. Supporting the expansion of democracy and human rights abroad is also one of the main points in providing international security.

Russian Federation Security Strategy

Strategic objectives

Russia’s strategy was approved in 2009 and consists of 112 paragraphs dealing with strategic priorities, goals and measures. As the first priorities for Russia’s national security, defense, state and societal security are listed, followed by social-economic concerns such as increasing the quality of life and economic growth. According to the NSS the interdependence between civil stability and national security is crucial. Also, social-economic development is just as important as military security.

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Source: NASA HQ PHOTO @Flickr

Key threats

NSS points out as a threat the policy of a number of leading countries which seek military supremacy by building up nuclear as well as conventional, strategic arms, unilaterally developing anti-ballistic missile defense systems and militarizing space (which may trigger a new arms race). Another threat is NATO expansion near Russian borders and the attempts to grant this military alliance a global role. Energy security represents another challenge claiming that competition for energy resources might create tension which could end in the use of military force near Russian borders. In addition to external threats, the document also listed domestic problems, terrorism, separatism, radicalism, extremism, organized crime, corruption and the danger of pandemics.

Defense policy

The main component of the provisions of national security consists of preventing global and regional wars and conflicts on the basis of the principles of reasonable sufficiency and effectiveness including non-military response, mechanisms of public diplomacy and peacekeeping and international military cooperation. Military security is ensured by developing and improving the military organization and defensive potential of the state through the implementation of military-technological policies, the development of military infrastructure as well as by increasing the prestige of the military service.

International Cooperation

The development of bilateral and multilateral cooperation with member states of the CIS is a priority direction of Russian foreign policy. Russia will seek to develop relations with the United Nations and NATO on the basis of respect and mutually beneficial cooperation. Cooperation with the European Union is also in the long-term national interests. Russia is willing to increase collaboration with G8, G20, RIC, BRIC as well as the partnership with the United States in terms of strategic offensive arms.

Conclusion

As a result, in matters of security the European Union has been more sympathetic to issues such as integration and multilateral coordination, where it can exercise its ‘soft power’ resources to influence other actors. The US is predisposed to the path of ‘smart power’ through the use of military might with greater investments in its partnership, alliances and public diplomacy. Finally, Russia in attempts to build a new stable economy puts on the first place economic and social development. National security is without a question important and the preconditions for reinforcing the system of national security have been created, although the model of security hasn’t been changed largely since the collapse of Soviet Union. The nuclear shield and military hard power still remain crucial features of the national security concept.

References:

Paul ,T.V. and Ripsman, Norrin. Globalization and the National Security State. New York; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010;

Rees, Wyn. The US-EU Security Relationship: The tensions between a European and a Global Agenda. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011;

European Union. A Secure Europe in a Better World – The European Security Strategy. Approved by the European Council held in Brussels on 12 December 2003 and drafted under the responsibilities of the EU High Representative Javier Solana;

European Union. Report on the Implementation of the European Security Strategy – Providing security in a changing world. Approved by the European Council held in Brussels on 11 and 12 December 2008 and drafted under the responsibilities of the EU High Representative Javier Solana;

Russia’s National Security Strategy to 2020, Rustrans [English], 2009 available at http://rustrans.wikidot.com/russia-s-national-security-strategy-to-2020;

United States. National Security Strategy. 2010

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Claudiu Sonda
Passionate student of IR and European politics with an interest in developing a high-level expertise in International Security and geopolitics.