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December 1, 2016

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Last year, on December 1, 2016, President Vladimir Putin endorsed a new foreign policy doctrine that accused the United States and its allies of undermining “global stability” by trying to “contain” Russia. The doctrine was published by the Russian government and continued a steady ratcheting up of rhetoric toward the West in official policy documents amid a sharp deterioration in Moscow’s relations with the U.S. and the European Union in recent years.

Mr. Putin said that Moscow “does not accept attempts to apply military, political, economic or other pressure and reserves the right to react harshly to unfriendly actions, including by strengthening national defenses and adopting tit-for-tat or asymmetrical measures.” The previous doctrine, released in 2013, had much of the same language as the one released in 2016 and mirrored his national security strategy that was published in December 2015.

The new doctrine raised the stakes when it comes to pressure on Moscow by the U.S. and its allies, which have targeted Russia with sanctions over its illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014 and its military support for militants in the occupied regions of eastern Ukraine.

“The policy of the United States and its allies to contain Russia and apply political, economic, informational and other pressure undermines regional and global stability,” the 2016 document said.

The Kremlin and senior Russian officials had voiced optimism about the prospects of rapprochement with Washington under the administration of President-elect Donald Trump, but there has been no change in course from Moscow.

Moscow also accused the U.S. of meddling in Russia’s internal affairs. The new doctrine stated that Russia was interested in building “mutually beneficial relations” with the U.S., including in the economic and scientific spheres. But such cooperation is only possible on the basis of “equality, mutual respect of interests, and noninterference in one another’s internal affairs.”

The doctrine maintained Russia’s stance against an expanding NATO, which Russia considers a threat, and accused the alliance of creating a “serious crisis in relations between Russia and Western governments.”

Moscow was hopeful for an elimination of the visa regime between Russia and the EU, calling it “one of the main barriers” to developing broad ties between the two sides.

Curiously, Great Britain and the Netherlands were mentioned in the 2013 doctrine, but were notably absent from the 2016 statement.

Source: “New Putin doctrine says U.S. pressure ‘undermining’ global stability,” by Carl Schreck (RFE/RL), The Ukrainian Weekly, December 18, 2016.

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