A new Russian naval doctrine signed by President Vladimir Putin indicates that the United States' quest to dominate the oceans and NATO's expansion are the biggest threats facing Russia.
The 55-page document, signed on Russian Navy Day on Sunday, said the "main challenges and threats" to national security and development were Washington's "strategic objective to dominate the world's oceans" and NATO military infrastructure moving towards Russia's borders.
"Russia's independent internal and external policy faces counter-measures from the United States and its allies, who aim to preserve their dominance in the world, including its oceans," said the doctrine.
Russia, China and several other countries have criticized the eastward expansion of NATO, saying that the US-led military alliance should have been dissolved after the collapse of the Soviet Union more than three decades ago.
Moscow views the Western military alliance -- the Soviet Union's enemy during the Cold War -- as an existential threat.
In a televised speech on February 24, President Putin announced a “special military operation” in Ukraine following Moscow’s recognition of the eastern regions of Lugansk and Donetsk, collectively known as Donbass.
At the time, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the goals of what he called a “special military operation” were to address Russia's security concerns and to “de-Nazify” Ukraine.
The conflict has provoked a unanimous response from Western countries, which have imposed a long list of sanctions on Moscow. Russia says it will halt the military operation instantly if Kiev meets Moscow’s list of demands, including ruling out Ukraine’s membership in NATO.
The arrogance of the US administration’s foreign policy with regard to NATO expansion has led to “Russia’s fear of encirclement” as Washington failed to address Moscow’s concerns about the Ukrainian crisis, a political expert says.
The war in Ukraine has inflamed tensions between Russia and the West, with the US and its NATO allies imposing unprecedented sanctions on Moscow and supplying a large cache of weaponry to Ukraine.
Russia has already declared that it will only use nuclear weapons if its very existence is threatened by the West.
Observers say the US administration’s foreign policy with regard to NATO expansion has led to “Russia’s fear of encirclement” as Washington failed to address Moscow’s concerns about the Ukrainian crisis.
Elsewhere, the doctrine said Moscow will seek to strengthen its leading position in exploring the Arctic and its mineral resources and maintain "strategic stability" there by bolstering the potential of the northern and Pacific fleets.
"Today's Russia cannot exist without a strong fleet... and will defend its interests in the world's oceans firmly and with resolution."
It also mentioned Russia's desire to develop a "safe and competitive" sea route from Europe to Asia, known as the Northeast Passage, via the country's Arctic coastline and ensure it worked throughout the year.
Five countries can lay claim to the potential wealth of the Arctic Ocean: Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia, and the United States. But it is Russia and Canada in particular that have jumped out to the early lead in this new race for the Arctic.