The interim Russian military doctrine sets the primary objective for the armed forces as the prevention, early termination, and containment of military conflict through employment of peacetime standing forces. The principal areas of concern are the territory and property of the Russian Federation, the areas contiguous to its borders, and the threat of nuclear attack by a foreign power.
Military operations in Chechnya are justified under the paragraph on protection of the territory and property of the Russian Federation. Justification for a continued Russian military presence in the former Central Asian republics derives from the paragraph on protection of areas contiguous to Russian borders, as well as provisions of the CIS treaty (see The Geopolitical Context, this ch.).
Russia reserves the right of first use of weapons of mass destruction, which remain a primary concern of policy makers in the age of nuclear disarmament. This reservation, which is in apparent violation of the terms of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT--see Glossary), has been retained nevertheless in response to Russia's uncertainty as to the intentions of the three neighboring states--Belarus, Kazakstan, and Ukraine--that were left with nuclear weapons after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. However, the last nuclear weapons in Kazakstan were destroyed in 1995, the last nuclear weapons left Ukraine in mid-1996, and the last nuclear weapons were scheduled to leave Belarus by the end of 1996--seemingly eliminating this rationale. Suspicion of the nuclear intentions of the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO--see Glossary) is the remaining foundation for the first-use provision of the doctrine.