22 March 2019

Vladimir Putin on the state of the Russian nation and Western opponents

Cristian Eremia

Image source: Mediafax

The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, has assessed, on 20th of February, the state of Russian nation within the annual traditional message[1] in front of Russia’s Federal Assembly. Although in the opening speech he has mentioned that his report will focus on the internal issues and the problems related to Russian state’s social-economic development, the personal approaches and new directions regarding Russia’s foreign and security policies, as well as his evaluations on Russia’s place and role across the international relations system and the global order, have had a greater impact on the internal and foreign audience.


The Russian war machine has clearly defined targets.
Romania is targeted and threatened.

Vladimir Putin has established that Russian state’s independency, sovereignty and defence issue are axiomatic problems, for which the entire Russian society must fight, considering that “no one can dictate to Russia” conditions of its global relations.

The audience has found out that Kremlin’s most important issue are created due to the Russian-US relations, currently marked by a new inflexion point, determined by the american withdrawal from the INF treaty. In order to clarify the subject, Putin has detailed Moscow’s perspectives regarding the INF file evolution and completion. It is considered that, meanwhile Russia and the US have been voluntarily renounced the short and medium range of action missile, other states in the world (unnamed) were freely developing these types of arms. The US has then sought for a reason to pull out from the INF treaty and has accused Russia of violating the provisions of the treaty. Putin has dispraised the american attitude: “What are they actually doing (the Americans)?

They break everything, then they apologize, designate the guilty one, then mobilize their satellites that applaud the Americans."”

Without actually admitting any of the allegation the Americans have made against Russia, Putin once again has blamed the US for developing and using medium range of action missiles, hiding them under the name anti-missile systems, which would actually use universal Mk-41 launching installations (the Russian part is absolutely convinced that from these installations it could be launched also cruise missiles with medium range of action). He even quoted the treaty provisions, in order to properly describe what Moscow considers to be ignored by the Americans.

It was reiterated the Russian conclusion that the US has gone too far, by dislocating universal launching installations in Romania and Poland “like nothing has happened”, a situation which Russia did not, and will not, tolerate.

From this point, President Putin has, for the first time, passed on the most aggravating threat register used so far against Western opponents. He warned that US’s decision to dislocate missiles prohibited by the INF treaty on the European continent is “dramatically worsening the international security field situation, creating serious threats for Russia… the time it would take for some US missiles to reach Moscow would be 10-12 minutes”.

He also underlined, for the first time, that things should be extremely clear for everyone, not only regarding the American threat on the Western vector, but for all types of threats, regardless of the place they would come from:

- Moscow does not create illusions, being aware of the development of the American anti-missile global system. Hence, it is ready for the moment the US will choose to start the development mentioned above, being forced to be ready and to use “mirror and asymmetrical actions”. Given the serious tone of the Russian president, we can imagine that, most likely, these measures will not be “reactive”.

- Russia is forced to create and dislocate armaments to be used not only against those territorial locations wherefrom are starting the direct military threats (he reminded here targets like the locations in Romania and Poland), but also against those “centers of decision regarding the use of the missile systems that are threatening us”.

In other words, the Russian president is clearly threatening “the Western enemy” – Russia’s new missiles will be dislocated in proper strategic positions, and these weaponries will have, as “pre-established targets”, not only the American missiles dislocation places in Romania and Poland, but also the American or allied command centers from Brussels, or anywhere else in the world.

Putin’s final conclusion is that US’s “wrong” policies in the recent years cannot be seen as friendly, because they were ignoring the Russian interests, promoting anti-Russian actions, “absolutely unprovoked by the Russian part”, maintaining “new and new illegal sanctions in terms of the international right”, dismantling the juridical foundation of the international security system.

It is reiterated an older thesis according to which Moscow would be prepared to have serious talks and negotiations reflecting an equal status with the US in the global relations, as Russia would not be “interested in a foreign confrontation, much less with a global super-power like the US”. Kremlin was also informed that, from now on, Moscow will not knock again at US’s “closed door”, but will wait for the Americans to realize the situation and to accept a real peer-to-peer dialogue. However, in the meantime, Moscow will fully reinforce its armed forces and will intensify their fight training, so that no one in the world could “even think” of a confrontation or using pressures or force tools against the Russian state.


The defence industry will work in full speed

Besides mentioning the foreign threats and focusing on the counter-threats against possible enemies and adversaries, Putin has also mentioned defence industry’s tasks. It was clarified that Moscow knows the technical-tactical characteristics of the weaponries threatening it and which it has to annihilate, hence, Russia’s scientific research and defence industry has passed to the endowment plans with last generation equipment.

The Russian president has resumed the concrete priorities list of the industrial military complex that he was mentioning a year ago in the same framework and he revealed that the “Avangard” system has entered the serial production, this year to be created also the first regiments to have such missiles. He also revealed that the works for the intercontinental missile “Sarmat”, the laser installation “Peresvet” (to enter the service in December), and the military aeronautic system “Kinjal” (including the modification of its carrier platform Mig-31) are on schedule, the experiments they made confirming that these will have unique technical characteristics.

There were mentioned the registered successes on the experiments regarding the missile with wings and unlimited range of action ensured by a nuclear propulsion installation, “Burevestnik”, and the unmanned submarine with unlimited range of action “Poseidon”.

For the first time, some information about this spring’s novelty in the Russian war showroom was made public. Soon, the first atomic submarine will be launched, as carrier of the unmanned system mentioned above. Another promising military equipment, to be completed for sure, is the hypersonic missile “Tzirkon”, with medium range of action of more than 1000 km, able to be installed on surface ships and submarine maritime platforms, or on terrestrial platforms by using “Kalibr” complex installations, already created (capable of striking both terrestrial and maritime targets).

Putin has affirmed that creating the endowment plans have a two-three years advance comparing to the initially established deadlines (we are talking about the state endowment Programme), hence, soon, the Navy Forces will have 7 multirole submarines and 5 heavy surface ships with large range of action in the operativity service and, until 2027, it will receive another 16 similar ships.

The Russian industrial military complex has received another task, in the direction of switching to diversification of the production and the takeover of products for the civil or dual use. It is demanded for the special production to follow the scientific research and the further education closer, to support the promotion of advanced and unique technologies, to face the global competition in these specific fields. Most likely they are talking about correcting some shortages in the defence industry, of passing on self-financing to exempt the state budget, or of completing the current production capacities with civilian demands. In any case, Putin does not seem to leave room for debate on this subject: "There must be blood flowing from the nose to perform these tasks." The level of ambition was high and all engineers, material and skills acquired during the development of the new-generation military technique are to be exploited "in the interests of the civil sphere".


Other foreign policy vectors

The Russian president has allocated less space for the Russia-EU relations, mentioning only that he is still hoping that across the main European capitals and Brussels it will emerge that political will to re-establish the mutual advantageous political and economic cooperation relations with Russia.

It came out that the Russian foreign policy priorities, promoted within UN, CSI, G20, BRICS, OSC will be the consolidation of trust between states, counteract threats against the human kind, the enlargement of cooperation in economy, trade, science and technologies, respectively to reduce of barriers of communications between the citizens of these organizations. We can easily notice that OSCE is out of Moscow’s favorite organizations list. They want to intensify the cooperation across ASEAN and exploit the potential of the privileged partnership with India. It was announced, also, the exploitation of the favorable conditions for the negotiations of the peace treaty with Japan and the continuation of a political dialogue favorable for a bilateral cooperation.

A special direction actions remain the cooperation across the Russia-Belarus Union, especially the coordination of the efforts in economic and foreign policies field.

Across the Euro-Asian Economic Union, they will be aiming at intensifying the inter-state relations, the integration process and common markets. It includes also the support of the Chinese initiatives to create a complex Euro-Asian partnership and to develop the mutual advantageous relations with China, as premise for the security provision in the Euro-Asian space.


Responsibilities for society’s modernization

Within the content of the annual message, there was a lack of a report regarding the economic increase, the evolutions of the national financial-bank system, or the issues created by the Western sanctions. The reasons of this approach are, obviously, related to internal policies. Hence, the internal audience saw president’s message as being focused on central and local executive’s action directions and orientations for the development of the Russian society.

There were announced social-economic measures (poverty eradication, the increase of living standards, public health, etc.), necessary for taking down the difficult condition of the demographic situation. He also referred the activity related to the environment conditions control. An important attention went on the critical and transport infrastructure matters (new airports, high-speed roads and railways).

As for the Russian public finances, it came out that, for the first time, the national reserves are guaranteeing state’s foreign financial debts, but also the ones related to the foreign commercial sector, as state budget’s incomes are having a normal evolution. The head of Russian state insisted on the measures necessary for inflation’s control, as well as the ones related the improvement of the development mechanisms of some macro-economic conditions, favorable for great economic development projects.

Regarding the economic growth, it has emerged that it will be necessary to solve some difficult systemic problems that will have full priority in the actions of the government and local governments. The first priority is the necessity to increase labor force’s productivity (based on the new technologies, digitalization etc.), the second one refers to stimulating investments, especially by creating a clear legislative foundation and an attractive environment for businesses. The third priority is the development of infrastructures to include all state’s regions which have a great economic potential in the economic circuits, and the last one refers to the necessity to improve the education system, to be able to create performant human resources and allow the development of sciences and technologies.

The issue of developing cyberspace and accessibility to the Internet has not been neglected. Government plans stipulate that technical conditions to ensure that all Russian schools have access to high-speed internet and to switch to 5G generation systems will be done by 2021.

There would be something to be remarked, namely that the main social networks had allocated large spaces for questioning the Russian society about President Putin's performance. Citizens’ reactions on those social networks were eminently laudatory and totally supportive for their supreme leader, glorified alike an idol and a national hero. Citizens’ have called his message as clear, focused on extremely concrete issues for the Russian nation. Many of them have understood, from his speech, that western countries have started to admit the uselessness of attempting to pressure Russia.