New US defense strategy: tougher about Russia than about China

White House’s response to the Kremlin’s actions should be more decisive – American experts say

MOSCOW – US Secretary of Defense James Mattis last week unveiled a new United States defense strategy that builds on ideas presented in the December 2017 US National Security Strategy for the Defense Department..

New US defense strategy: tougher about Russia than about China

As in the national security strategy, the defense strategy states that Russia and China are states seeking to disrupt the existing world order..
“It is becoming more and more obvious that China and Russia want to shape the world in accordance with their authoritarian model, wanting to have the right to veto economic, diplomatic and defense decisions of other countries,” the document says..
It is also noted that Russia seeks to manage the decisions of its neighbors in these areas, and this is dangerous: “The use of emerging technologies in Georgia, Crimea and Eastern Ukraine to discredit and undermine democratic processes is identified as sufficient cause for concern, and in aggregate with it (Russia – D .G.) Expanding and renewing nuclear arsenal becomes an open challenge “.
A successful confrontation between these two countries, as announced in the Strategy, is impossible without additional allocations for defense: “The long-term strategic rivalry with China and Russia is the top priority of the Ministry and requires increased and sustained investment due to the scale of the threats they pose to the security and prosperity of the United States. today, and opportunities to increase these threats in the future “.
All this is stated in the open section of the Strategy, which James Mattis unveiled on Friday. It is assumed that such indications of China and Russia in the open part are only the tip of the iceberg, and in the secret part of the document there are much more specific words about the strategy and tactics of this rivalry..
Experts who have familiarized themselves with the new edition of the National Defense Strategy come to the conclusion that such serious words about the US rivals on the world stage in the Kremlin should be taken mainly at their own expense..
Dov Zakheim: Russia is openly called the enemy, China is not to the same extent
Former US Deputy Secretary of Defense, senior expert at CNA Corporation Dov S. Zakheim, in his commentary at a briefing in Washington on the release of the US defense strategy – 2018, said that the views of the military-political leadership of the country were expressed quite frankly: “The strategy is open names priorities: it says that Russia and China are “concerns number one”.
“There is nothing in Jim Mattis’s career to indicate that he is wasting words. And I think this is a very clear message, especially to Moscow, and more than to Beijing. There is a feeling that Mr. Putin, frankly speaking, has bypassed us. He played all sorts of his terrible games with democratic systems in Western Europe and here, but besides this, if you look at what he achieved in the Eastern Mediterranean – in Syria, playing the game in Libya, in Egypt, strengthening his position with the Israelis, then there is a feeling that we have been bypassed, and one of Mattis’s messages, in my opinion, is this – “I will work with the State Department to end this” – says Dov Zakheim, noting that the goal of the US Department of Defense is to reinforce the efforts of diplomats with the capabilities of the military.
“Another area frankly outlined in the strategy is the concept of ‘new partners’. There are references to Sweden and Finland – countries that are strengthening in the face of danger from Mr. Putin, and I must say that Sweden is doing this very quickly, renewing a kind of appeal “- continues the expert.
According to Dov Zakheim, there is an obvious difference in how the Strategy describes the US approach to Russia and to China: “Russia is quite openly called the enemy there. China is not to that extent. And I think that the fact that we are very large trading partners plays a big role here: our economies are connected in whole parts, and if our economy goes down, it does not help them, and vice versa. So this is a relationship with a lot more nuances. “.
“As long as China is ready to work with us, we will not be aggressive towards it. Russia invaded Georgia and Ukraine, it used its cyber capabilities to “hack” Estonia, that is, there is already a whole story there. And I think that the words used in relation to Russia are still harsher than in relation to China “- shared his impressions of the new edition of the US National Defense Strategy Dov Zakheim.
Robert Blackville and Philip Gordon: the enemy attacked – time to respond
Russia’s emergence into one of the first, if not the first, place among the threats to the United States was also noted in the article “Containment of Russia. Again, ”published on Thursday by two leading analysts at the Council on Foreign Relations, one of the most influential expert organizations in the United States, which has existed for almost a century. The material was released a day before the speech by James Mattis, who revealed the provisions of the National Defense Strategy.
Robert D. Blackwill, who served as Deputy National Security Advisor to President George W. Bush, and Philip H. Gordon, who served as President Barack Obama’s Special Assistant for the Middle East, subtitled their article in Foreign Affairs magazine, its main idea: “The enemy has attacked the United States – time to respond.”.

Conflict scenarios with Russia and China

Experts argue that Russia is deliberately “sowing and exacerbating discord among Americans” after it “hacked into the computers of American citizens and organizations in order to steal information; released this information in ways designed to influence election results and divide Americans; implemented and disseminated disinformation on US social media through its own state-funded and controlled media networks, as well as tens of thousands of bloggers and bots. “.
Blackville and Gordon argue that Moscow’s actions have resulted in growing internal strife and diminishing confidence in national institutions, which pose a huge threat to the United States – no less than any traditional national security issue except a nuclear attack – and this should be done. respond.
“In the face of such a hefty challenge, new measures are needed to protect American society from further interference and to punish Russia for attacking the United States. This response should not be limited to measures that will prevent further interference in the elections. Moscow will stop and retreat only if it comes to the conclusion that it is paying a high price on issues that are important to it, including in the field of European security, “experts write in their article for Foreign Affairs..
The authors of the article propose a set of measures, already voiced by many critics of the Kremlin, to prevent Russian hostile activity, such as a possible increase in financial sanctions, strengthening NATO, aid to Ukraine, reducing Europe’s dependence on Russian energy resources, strengthening opposition to Russian propaganda and disinformation..
Among the proposed is Washington’s warning to Moscow, which, according to Blackville and Gordon, could be conveyed through confidential channels by CIA Director Mike Pompeo that the United States is ready to release credible information about the finances of Russian government officials involved in organizing computer hacking in the United States. , as well as “other unpleasant information about Putin and his entourage”.
“Putin appears to have concluded that increasing Russia’s role regionally and globally requires a weakening of American power. The United States needs to rise to this challenge. Trump’s own National Security Strategy concludes that “actors such as Russia are using information tools in an attempt to undermine the legitimacy of democracies” and that “Russia is challenging American power, influence and interests.” These findings are undeniable. Now is the time for the administration to act accordingly “- urge senior officials of previous American administrations.

  • Danila Galperovich

    Reporter for the Russian Service «Voices of America» in Moscow. Collaborates with «Voice of America» since 2012. For a long time he worked as a correspondent and presenter of programs in the Russian service of the BBC and «Radio Liberty». Specialization – international relations, politics and legislation, human rights.

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