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Security and Defense Councils

The President of the Russian Federation directly controls the activities of the intelligence, law enforcement, and defense activities of the Russian government. Intelligence activities are overseen by the Russian National Security Council and coordinated through the Permanent Interbranch Commissions of the National Security Council and their Chairmen. In addition to the three foreign intelligence agencies, the intelligence community also controls the Federal Customs Service and the newly organized Federal Security Service. The Federal Customs Service can provide the intelligence services with detailed information on the movement of goods and equipment in and out of Russia. Proprietary information such as customer lists could be derived from declarations made to the Customs Service. The Federal Security Service incorporates the functions of the Main Administration for the Protection of the Russian Federation and the Federal Counterintelligence Service. The combination of these functions has returned much of the internal security and counterintelligence functions formerly held by the KGB to a single agency.

While the centralized Soviet decisionmaking system dominated by the Politburo and the Central Committee has been abolished, new national security decisionmaking structures have been marked by improvisation and ad hoc responses.

Security Council

The Security Council was established in 1992 to provide a high-level forum for the president to interact directly and concurrently with Russia's key ministers and agency heads. In similar fashion to the United States National Security Council (NSC) it does not serve as a deliberate body that arrives at decisions on its own. Instead, decisions are made by the president, who chairs the Security Council, and issues executive orders and decrees. Members of the Council are appointed by the president.

The Security Council has focused its efforts on creating policy proposals centered on the preservation and protection of Russian citizens, society, and the state from both internal and external threats. The Council creates inter-agency commissions to carry out its operations, and is supported by a Scholarly Council. This body provides scholarly expertise and is comprised of various experts from Russia's educational institutions and academies.

The Security Council had been created to function as the primary forum for the integration and coordination of security policy, but initially provide relatively ineffective.

General Alexander Lebed was appointed secretary of the Security Council in June 1996. Lebed had charged onto the political scene and was a major proponent of a massive military reform campaign. He also sought to make the Security Council an operational instrument for the coordination and integration of foreign and security policy.

In an attempt to counter Lebed's ambitions, President Boris Yeltsin created the Defense Council in July 1996. The Defense Council was granted the authority to coordinate policy on the military, which included reform, and was seen as a blow to Lebed.

Within a few months Lebed was dismissed by the president and replaced by Ivan Rybkin, who possessed little experience in security affairs. The Council turned its attention towards internal security measures and Chechnya. Yeltsin eventually dissolved the Defense Council (and the Military Inspectorate) in a decree in March 1998 and integrated the organization's functions and staff back into the Security Council.

Between January 2000 and July 2001 President Vladimir Putin approved a number of military and security doctrines, including the National Security Concept, the Military Doctrine of the Russian Federation, the Information Security Doctrine, and the Naval Doctrine of the Russian Federation.

In March 2007 it was announced by the Security Council that they were prepared to concoct a new military doctrine to replace the outdated 2000 version. As of June 2007 the secretary of the Security Council was Igor Ivanov.

Defense Council

The Defense Council, established in July 1996 as part of the Presidential Apparatus, was charged with advising the president on important decisions on military policy. In addition to the Defense Ministry, membership included other ministries and bodies such as the Interior Ministry and Border Guards. Although it was created to counterbalance Lebed's Security Council it eventually became a key forum for the formulation and coordination of defense policy under its secretary, Yuri Baturin.

By the beginning of 1998, however, it had become apparent that it was logistically taxing to maintain a Defense Council and a Security Council. Each organization served similar functions and contained a high percentage of members that belonged to the other council. In March President Yeltsin signed a decree that officially disbanded the Defense Council and reincorporated its functions and staff into the Security Council.

Intelligence Coordination

In early 1997 it was reported that a draft presidential edict contemplated the creation of a center to coordinate the activities of the FSB [Federal Security Service], the SVR [Foreign Intelligence Service], the FAPSI [Federal Government Communications and Information Agency] and, according to some reports, the FPS [Federal Border Service]. Candidates to head the coordination center included Yevgeniy Savostyanov, a former geophysicist and counterintelligence officer currently serving as deputy presidential chief of staff, Yuriy Baturin, or Sergey Stepashin.

In recent years the FSB slowly took on the responsibilities of a number of agencies. In 2003, the Statute on Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation and Structure of Federal Security Service Agencies allowed the FSB to absorb a number of other agencies. Most notably, the FSB took over the five month-old Special Communications and Information Service, the successor to FAPSI. FAPSI was Russsia's equivalent of the American National Security Agency. The FSB then became responsible for electronic surveillance and intelligence-gathering.

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