COMMANDERS AND POLITICIANS INSPECT THE TROOPS

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Review of the current problems of the Armed ForcesSource: Observer of WPS agency

Against the background of the political and economic crisis in Russia wages arrears to the servicemen are preserved, there is no promised raising of officers and warrant-officers salaries, resignation of the young officers continues and crime grows not only among the soldiers, but also among the professional militaries. This alarms the well-known politicians and Defense Ministry and General Staff officials.

On February colonel general Igor Valynkin, director of the 12 th main department of the Defense Ministry, organized a press conference. He pointed out that there are no reasons for concern about the safety of nuclear ammunition, because only the officers, who underwent the qualitative selection work with the nuclear weapons and materials. The conscripts for service in the 12 th department are also chosen a long time before the draft.

Meanwhile, it was also pointed out that the troops, subordinated to him, still have some problems. the servicemen worry about the wages arrears. Despite the assurance of the Finance Ministry in complete repayment of the wages arrears, the personnel of the 12 th department still did not receive its wages for August and September, as well as the compensations for the food ration, annual bonus and so on. Valynkin added that this influences the morale of the troops, but completely excluded any possibility of the nuclear blackmailing on the part of officers and warrant-officers, who work at the “S” objects (where the nuclear ammunition is stored).

Answering the question about the measures, taken after the seizing of hostages on the Central testing ground on Novyaya Zemlya archipelago last autumn (it is subordinated to the 12 th department), Valynkin said that the most strict conclusions were made. The personnel of the units, deployed there, was completely replaced, and regular supply of material resources and food products to them was arranged. Funds for wages of the servicemen of the testing ground are assigned first of all without any delay.

Valynkin told the journalists in detail how the Russian-Agreements on provision of nuclear weapons storage and transportation security within the framework of Nann-Lugar program are fulfilled. He added that recently many rumors appeared about the threat of the American assistance in the nuclear weapons security sphere to the Russian interests. He pointed out: “This is not true. The country experiences a crisis, and much less money is spent for the military purposes, than we would like to, that is why we should not refuse the sensible assistance. I tell frankly, we are grateful to the American leadership for its contribution to solving of our problems, associated with the nuclear security.”

Valynkin added that during the last four years the US assigned more than $80 million for provision of the Russian nuclear ammunition transportation to the discarding points and equipment of the technical guarding systems. Anyway, this is not the limit. Within the framework of Nann-Lugar program Americans promise the new financial aid, which equals about the same sum. New systems for definition of reliability of the personnel will be supplied, as well as the equipment for guarding of the so-called “S” objects, fire fighting trucks and so on. The general specially stressed that in the near future the automated system for registration of all nuclear weapons (tactical and strategic ones), made in the US, would be put in operation in the Defense Ministry. He assured that all computers would be thoroughly checked, and leaking of any information from them would be completely excluded.

On February 4 Oleg Mironov, human rights plenipotentiary, visited the 27 th brigade of the Defense Ministry. Within the next few days Mironov will inform the government “about the most vital problems of servicemen”, reported his press service. The matter is primarily about the extremely low wages of junior officers and slow solving of the housing problems. As a result, almost 40% graduates of military educational institutions retire from the military service.

In accordance with the plan of the Defense Ministry for February, on February 8 minister Igor Sergeev visited the Tver garrison, where he inspected the military university of the air defense and military school of Suvorov. Speaking to the students of the air defense academy, Sergeev associated increase of the Armed Forces financing with the name of Premier Primakov. According to Sergeev, “fortunately for our country, he understands the importance of the power factor in the unstable situations better than all the other premiers.” According to him, there is instability both “in the foreign policy and in the domestic economic situation”. Sergeev stressed that “the events, which currently occur on the international arena, turned the society towards the Armed Forces.” According to him, “even in the modern difficult conditions, due to the efforts of the President and Premier, funds were found for increase of the servicemen’s wages.”

Sergeev also announced that it is possible to successfully reform the Armed Forces only if they are financed by the sum, “which equals at least 3.5% of the gross domestic product.” He added that the Armed Forces will be armed with the new armament and combat equipment models “after 2005.” Until this time both capital repair and deep modernization of the currently used armament will be conducted.

Sergeev expressed his concern about the idea of the Armed Forces financing through the federal treasury system. According to him, this scheme is able to work under two obligatory conditions: “in case of completely fulfillment of the country’s budget and regular financing. If these two conditions are not observed, transition to the treasury system may have many negative consequences.” Besides the speeches, Sergeev also focused his attention on the educational process. This is not accidental, because reforming of the military higher educational institutions entered the decisive stage: some military educational institutions are liquidated, the others are merged, new educational programs and courses are implemented. All this demands a special control and analysis, including those on the part of the Defense Minister, – this was the comment of the Defense Ministry public relations service, regarding the goals and tasks of Sergeev’s visit to Tver.

On February 11 Sergeev together with Air Force commander Kornukov visited Kapustin Yar testing ground (Astrakhan region), where tests of the most modern air defense missile system S-400 are conducted.

Nikolai Mikhailov, State Secretary, Senior Deputy Defense Minister, is also active. On February 9 he went on his visits to the Russian military bases in Sevastopol, Batumi and Gudauta together with a group of the Russian parliament members. According to the military sources, Mikhailov “plans to study the technical equipment of the military units, organization of prolongation of the technical resource of the armament and combat equipment and their repair.” He will also “discuss perspectives of the Armed Forces reforming, taking into account specific conditions of their deployment areas” and the “problems of the Russian command cooperation with the local power bodies.”

The latter issue is also very vital for the Black Sea Fleet, the objects of which were cut off the electric energy supply at the end of January by the resolution of Sevastopol authorities. Mikhailov had to personally call the managers of the Ukrainian energy systems to restart the electricity supply to the objects of the fleet. During his visit to Sevastopol he plans to come to an agreement with the city authorities about the regular supply of electric energy to the fleet.

Commanders of the Armed Forces branches visited the troops as well. Thus, since February 3 until February 5 colonel general Vladimir Yakovlev was on combat duty at the Central Command Post of the Strategic Missile Forces. He is currently on his visit to the Moscow military district. Since February 1 until February 6 Navy commander admiral Vladimir Kuroedov participated in the staff command exercises. During his meeting with the subordinates Kuroedov reported that adoption of the new armament models is not expected in the Navy this year. According to him, large anti-submarine ship Admiral Chabanenko was included into the Navy “literally last week”, and it would arrive to the port of its deployment in the Northern Fleet by the end of February. He added: “In 1999 the main attention will be focused on the scientific research and development and preparation for the future construction.”

In February Air Force commander colonel general Kornukov will inspect the testing ground Kapustin Yar. According to his words, said on the eve of his visit to Kapustin Yar, Russian Air Force has only 149 airdromes left with the artificial cover with the runways length of more than 1,800 meters. These military airdromes were built in 1950’s-1970’s. For the further operation 63 airdromes need an urgent repair and reconstruction.

These are the main problems of the Russian Armed Forces in the middle of February of 1999.

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