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Wednesday, April 28, 1999 Published at 17:57 GMT 18:57 UK

World: Europe

Analysis: Russia's military strategy

Schoolkids meet the army - programme to prevent mass draft-dodging

By Russian Affairs Analyst Stephen Dalziel

The Russian Defence Minister, Marshal Igor Sergeyev, has said that Nato's action in Yugoslavia will lead to a re-think of Russia's own military doctrine.

Closer cooperation with Ukraine and Belarus is already under discussion.

But given the poor state of Russia's armed forces, the scope for change may be limited.

Military doctrine is always easier to define when a country has an identifiable enemy.

So, during the Cold War, it was clear to Moscow that Nato was perceived as a threat, and Soviet military doctrine could be constructed accordingly.

As well as military theory, this meant that ballistic missiles could be targeted against Western capitals, such as Washington and London.

Joint exercises

A landmark of the post-Cold War period was the declaration that missiles in the Soviet - later Russian - arsenal were no longer to be aimed at these cities.

[ image:  ]
Another was the formation of Nato's Partnership for Peace programme, in which former Soviet states and other ex-Warsaw Pact countries have played an active part, carrying out a number of joint military exercises with Nato forces.

But the positive atmosphere created by these moves has worsened recently.

Russia is unhappy with the entry into Nato of its former Warsaw Pact allies, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland.

Talk of the possible entry into the Alliance of the Baltic States - Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania - has long been criticised in Moscow.

After the issue was raised again by the Baltic States at Nato's 50th anniversary celebrations in Washington, Marshal Sergeyev has repeated the Russian view that such a development would pose a serious threat to Russia's security.

Rethink over Kosovo

More worrying for Moscow, though, is the Nato action in former Yugoslavia.

The Russian Defence Minister Igor Sergeyev says if the bombing of Yugoslavia does not end soon, it could cause a major re-think of Russian military doctrine.

But such a rethink may be easier for Marshal Sergeyev to call for than for the Russian Defence Ministry to carry out.

The Russian armed forces are in a total mess.

Undermanned because of draft-dodging, poorly maintained and equipped because of a shortage of funds, no amount of re-thinking of Russian military doctrine is going to create a military force able to carry out any effective military operations for a long time to come.

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