Homeland Security and the Russian Approach

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Information & Security: An International Journal, Volume 17, p.50-60 (2005)


Asymmetric Threats, homeland security, Russian Transnational Organized Crime, Russia’s Security Concepts.


Homeland security remains a vague notion in the Russian understand¬ing, but essentially refers to the safeguard of key national interests, the struggle against global threats, with a strong focus on international terrorism, and eventually the fight against transnational organized crime. Homeland security tasks are usually performed in the Russian Federation by several security agencies distributed among three different ministries, i.e. the Interior Ministry, the MOD, and the Ministry for Civil Emergencies (EMERCOM). However, this trilateral structure is perhaps not sufficient to ensure concrete results in Russia’s attempts to fight against organized crime. Although having repeatedly stated the need to re-establish the rule of law, the current Russian government appears to deal with oligarchs in a discretionary way. It would therefore be rather utopian to expect any real improvement without a radical change of attitude from the top leadership. Russian approach towards homeland security is rather close to the European standards in terms of structural implementation, but much closer to the U.S. approach in terms of response and the preference for the use of force. The analysis of Russia’s security concepts demon-strates that security threats to the country are assessed as having clearly increased in the last ten years. A gloomier worldview combined with a reduced influence on the international scene obviously calls for more assertive security documents. In the same logic, the Russian perception advocates force as the preferred solution to deal with asymmetric threats, such as international terrorism. This became even more apparent in the wake of the 11 September attacks on the United States and the renewed strategic partnership between Moscow and Washington. The recognition of Russia’s key role in the fight against international terrorism did indeed bring Russia back into the Western security community. On the Russian side, the Russian leadership soon understood that Russia was too weak to counter these new threats on its own and would lose any prospective benefit by openly confronting the West.