THE ARMED FORCES TRANSIT TO A STATE OF EMERGENCY

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In some garrisons the military bakeries will also supply the civilians with their products

Despite the anti-crisis measures of the federal government the degradation processes in the sphere off the troops logistics grow. At the end of October more than 20,000 strong group of servicemen of Kaliningrad special district ate exclusively dried bread instead of the fresh one. In some units supply of meat and fish was irregular. Only the emergency order, sent from Moscow, allowed improvement of the situation, and since the beginning of November in the Baltiysk garrison it was decided to put the field bakery, being in the long-term storage and meant for the use in the war time, into operation. The bakery started supplying its products not only to the military units, but also to the local civilians. In addition, some 140 tons of food were quickly delivered from the navy depots in Kronshtadt to Kaliningrad. These were primarily the canned fish and meat with the expiring shelf time. Anyway this food will be sufficient only until November 20, and if the food reserves of Kaliningrad garrisons are not refilled, there might be a hunger.

To avoid it the Baltic Fleet has to find some 80 million rubles to pay to the suppliers and purchase the new lots of food products. It will be difficult to do, because the Finance Ministry currently finances the troops exclusively according to the cut clause “money allowances off the servicemen”.

Meanwhile, according to Alexander Orlov, presidential plenipotentiary in Kaliningrad region, the debts of the Baltiysk Fleet regarding the food and electric energy supply, as well as the wages and money allowances to the workers and servicemen, are gradually reduced, and there is a hope that they will be minimized in the near future.

According to Orlov, the most vital problem, bread supply to the troops, which resulted in stopping of the fresh bread supply to all ships and units of the Fleet, is also being solved. Orlov reported that 4.5 million rubles were transferred from the federal budget for supply of the previous bread supply. Although the whole debt is not repaid yet (some 11.5 million rubles), Kaliningrad bakeries restarted supply of their products to the troops. In addition, the field bakery was put in operation in Baltiysk, and 1,100 tons of flour were received for it. According to Orlov, “there already can not be the repetition of the bread problem”, because the variant of repayment of the grain credit, which was issued to the agricultural enterprises of Kaliningrad in spring, suitable for all parties was found. Orlov explained: “The credit will be repaid by the set off between the agricultural enterprises, Fleet and the regional administration. Preparation of the necessary documents is being completed, and the further is up to the federal center. As soon as the set off is conducted, all creditors of the Fleet: bakeries, flour mills and grain manufacturers will feel that their condition is seriously improved.”

According to Orlov, the Baltic Fleet repaid its debts to the energy companies for the electric energy consumed last year, although with a big delay. In October 38.8 million rubles were received for these purposes in October. The Fleet transferred another 100 million rubles to Yantar shipyard as repayment of the debts for the state defense order. The situation with the payment of the militaries for the public utilities services, primarily for the water supply, is more difficult. So far it is impossible to find the way to solve this problem, but, according to Orlov, “the work is being done in this direction”.

Optimism of the authorities is inspiring, but the reality is not so joyful. On November 6 Yantar shipyard in Kaliningrad launched the incomplete war ship with the working designation Tuman. It freed the space for repair of a Norwegian cargo ship. The building of Tuman was practically stopped two year ago, and the overall debt of the Defense Ministry to the shipyard for the previously fulfilled orders reached 39 million rubles.

Meanwhile, there are the analogous problems at the other fleets and in military districts. Majority of the suppliers refused to supply food products to the troops in the Far East, Kamchatka, Northern Fleet and in the Central Russia.

Recently colonel Sergei Smotrov, commander of the food service of the Far Eastern military district was killed in Khabarovsk. Preliminary investigations demonstrated that it is possible that this murder was ordered being associated with the debts of the food service of the district to the commercial structures. These debts are huge: some 0.3 billion rubles, plus some 100 million rubles, which the foods service owes to the officers for the compensation for the food rations. It is possible to feed all Armed Forces on these sums for a month.

In the Far Eastern military district, in the Northern Fleet, in remote garrisons of Siberia, Ural, Povolzhye, like in the Baltic area, it was decided to put the field bakeries and kitchens, meant for the use in the war time, in operation. Some commanders already do not believe in ability of the state to feed the troops and are occupied with the self-maintenance. For example, in the Northern Fleet captain of the first rank Victor Andreev, commander of nuclear submarine Bryansk, had to go to the fraternity city Bryansk and request its authorities at least about supply of 10 tons of potatoes for the nourishment of the submarine’s crew. His request was met. Anyway, unfortunately not everywhere the local authorities assist the servicemen. According to the logistics service of the Pacific Fleet despite that more than 20,000 servicemen worked on the fields of the country, in the northern regions only 50% of the necessary potatoes and vegetables were stored. So far it is not clear where the rest 50% will be taken.

The readiness of the local authorities to assist the garrisons’ survival deserves a separate conversation. The frosts already came, but the public utilities services do not supply thermal energy to Ryazan Airborne Forces School, Kolomna School of Strategic Missile Forces and to some other units of the Moscow military district because of the debts. We consider Sevastopol to be “our city”, but recently the city tax service arrested some accounts of the Black Sea Fleet, and the local authorities keep on cutting the Fleet’s objects off the city power station due to the allegedly huge debts. As a result the Black Sea Fleet had to put the field power stations and kitchens in operation. According to the sources in the Fleet’s headquarters, this places the Fleet on the verge of survival, because almost 5,000 tons of diesel fuel and gasoline were spent for the autonomous energy supply, which is equal to the annual resource of a whole division. Due to the same reason much fuel and lubricants is spent in the Armed Forces. Cutting off of the energy supply often happened in the garrisons of the Far East, Trans-Baikalia, Siberia and Ural, as a result of which the country’s defense capability was seriously damaged.

Sometimes even extraordinary events occur. On November 5 the staff of the Far Eastern military district had to deploy armored personnel carriers near the electric power stations to prevent attempts of stock company Khabarovskenergo to cut off the electricity supply some military objects, including the district’s headquarters. According to lieutenant general Yury Yusupov, deputy commander of the Far Eastern military district “attempts were made to cut off the electricity supply from the depots of the missile and artillery armament, communication structures and the headquarters”. Interference of governor Victor Ishaev stopped the energy company.

Meanwhile, in 1998 the Far Eastern district was financed only by 38%. The debts for the consumed energy resources exceeded 2 billion rubles. There is a permanent shortage of money for the payment for fuel and lubricants and food.

The command does not hide that the financial situation will negatively influence the combat-readiness and the combat training. According to lieutenant general Vasily Yakushev, chief of the district’s staff, “the final inspection of the troops demonstrated that there is no level of combat-readiness of the troops, which existed just 10-15 years ago”. Quite recently Kamchatka was deprived of the electric energy. The military units, as well as the civilians, lived without the electricity. On November 5 Emergency Situations Ministry Sergei Shoigu and the regional administration reached an agreement with the militaries about supply of 10,000 tons of fuel for the thermal power stations under the minister’s guarantee. The fuel, supplied to the militaries, will allow the energy companies to work until November 15, when coming of another ship with fuel oil is expected. It seems that the efforts of governor Vladimir Birukov bring their first fruit: the schedule of fuel supply to Kamchatka for the next 4 months was approved. From now on everything depends upon the money assignment: the suppliers will hardly wish to deliver fuel oil to Kamchatka on credit, like they did before. Meanwhile the debt of the militaries in the region equals 300 million rubles.

The housing certificates deserve a special conversation. During the meeting of President Yeltsin with Defense Minister Igor Sergeev in Sochi on November 2 it was agreed to assign 7,000 housing certificates and 200 million rubles to the Defense Ministry to complete construction of residential buildings for the officers. This will allow provision of housing to 2,000 families of the servicemen.

Is this much or little? Of course, this is little. The presidential program is meant for the period until 2002 and has to provide housing for 210,000 servicemen, removed to the reserve. This means that 42,000 state housing certificates have to be used for receiving of housing annually. 12,800 housing certificates were already sent to the regions, but only 3,500 people received housing for them. Meanwhile, 35,000 of the officers and warrant officers, who are removed to the reserve in accordance with the military reform, do not have any housing. We also need to add almost 100,000 professional servicemen, who currently serve in the Armed Forces.

Thus, the economic crisis in Russia represents a heavy burden on the militaries’ shoulders, but the Armed Forces manage to survive yet. The logistics services started acting in emergency situations more often. Of course, this increases the discontent of the troops and causes their unrest. Commanders of the military districts and the fleets realize the consequences of this very well.

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