Both in pre-revolutionary Russia and in the Soviet period, the head of state traditionally has been the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. Today the President of Russia is also authorized to head the Armed Forces. In peacetime, the head of state exercises general political supervision of the Armed Forces, while in wartime he oversees the defense of the state and its Armed Forces in warding off agression. The President's powers as Commander-in-Chief are determined in the federal law ”On Defense“ (Articles 4 and 13).
In exercising political supervision of the Armed Forces, the President, as the Supreme Commander-in-Chief, endorses the Military Doctrine of Russia, the concept and plans for building the Armed Forces, economic mobilization plans, civil defense plans and other laws and regulations involving military organization. The head of state also endorses all arms-related regulations and the regulations of the Ministry of Defense and the General Staff. The Minister of Defense and the Chief of the General Staff are directly subordinate to the President. The President issues annual decrees concerning the draft and the reserves, and signs international treaties on joint defense and military cooperation.
Under the Constitution, the President is vested with the exclusive right to impose martial law. The legal basis of martial law is defined in the federal constitutional law ”On Martial Law“ of January 30, 2002. Under the Constitution, the approval of a presidential decree on the introduction of martial law falls under the jurisdiction of the Federation Council. If the Federation Council rejects the President's decree, such a decree is terminated the day after this resolution is passed by the Federation Council. Pursuant to Russia's international obligations concerning the introduction of martial law, the President shall notify the UN Secretary General and inform the Council of Europe about any deviation from Russia's obligations under international treaties resulting from temporary restrictions on the rights and liberties of Russian citizens.