Minutae of the press conference of Defense Minister Igor Sergeev
July 9, 1999
Question: Igor Dmitrievich, how would you gauge the level of combat readiness of the Armed Forces? What about the military reforms: how are they going? And what conclusions drawn from the Yugoslavian conflict will be taken into consideration in the process of future implementation of the military reforms?
Answer: I can assure you that the Armed Forces are combat ready, controllable, and capable of ensuring military security of the country.
Analysis of local wars and armed conflicts of the last decade and appearance of new forms and methods of warfare show that the Defense Ministry has made correct conclusions in determination of directions of the reorganization and development of the Army and Navy.
In the course of the changes they were subjected to, the Armed Forces became more compact and control over them became more flexible. Parameters of their combat readiness improved.
Permanent combat readiness units and formations were formed for localization of armed conflicts. Together with other units and formations, they are capable of accomplishing their missions.
As for the major planned elements of the reforms, we meet the schedule. Foundations of the new organizational, materiel, and moral basis of the Russian Army and Navy and of the 21st century have been thus set up.
Given time, we will use this basis to rearm and re-equip the Armed Forces with more sophisticated weapons systems and equipment of the new generation.
It should be noted, however, that in the situation that we have in this country the importance of the Armed Forces in the system of national security is not limited to the traditional problems of defense of the country anymore. Their role in creation of new structures of global and regional security grew significantly.
First and foremost, it concerns complicated and sizable tasks in peacekeeping missions which have been so numerous recently.
A special peacekeeping contingent was set up for their accomplishment. It is now on peacekeeping missions in hot spots like Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Tajikistan, Trans-Dniester region, Bosnia and Herzegovine, and now in Kosovo.
As for the Yugoslavian conflict itself, it is being thoroughly studied at the Defense Ministry. And of course, all conclusions and recommendations will be taken into account in plans of future development and construction of the Armed Forces.
Question: What is the state and perspectives of finances this year? What figures are stipulated by the 2000 budget?
Answer: In 1999, the financial situation improved noticeably, but the problem remains one of the most pressing all the same. Total of 105.8 billion rubles were set aside for the Defense Ministry in 1999, and so far we’ve received only 41.2 billion. Less than 39% of the sum, in other words.
Between January and June, 1999, the Defense Ministry received 200.6 million short of the sum the federal budget allocated for the first six months of the year.
Unfortunately, we are witnessing the same old situation we had in recent years when allocations for each quarter are distributed unproportionally. The largest part (31.3%) will be made available to us in the last three months of the year. Meanwhile, the money is necessary all through the year, particularly in summer when combat training is active, when graduations from military educational establishments take place, and when officers are on vacations.
A whole number of sittings and conferences took place in the top structures of state power. The Defense Ministry was represented at every one of them. They all discussed measures aimed at better sponsorship of the Armed Forces, and we hope that these measures will prove their worth in the near future.
Amelioration of the situation demands the following:
In the first place, we have to revise the order of distribution of budget allocations set aside or the national defense.
In this light, we insist on strict implementation of the Law “On the 1999 Federal Budget”, and particularly its articles stipulating additional financial sources for the Defense Ministry.
Moreover, we still maintain that in the third quarter the Defense Ministry needs 6.6 billion rubles more than the budget specifies. The money can be taken from what is due us in the fourth quarter. In July, it will allow us to pay salaries debts for June and May, and to execute all current payments without delay.
In the second place, we intend to lobby in the Duma a Law “On Amendment of the Law On the 1999 Federal Budget”. This law specifies allocation of 10.4 billion rubles to the Defense Ministry to enable it to pay debts to servicemen and civilian employees for 1998, and to index salaries in 1999.
The “National Defense” part of the 2000 draft budget is being actively worked on. We do what we can to work out the most acceptable variant stipulating allocation to the Armed Forces of the sum at least equal to what they received and are to receive in 1999.
Question: How is the peacekeeping operation in Kosovo being financed? From what sources, I mean? Do you think it possible that this financial burden will be shifted solely on the Armed Forces?
Answer: Financial matters concerning the units sent on peacekeeping missions are handed in accordance with the Law “On the Military and Civilian Personnel of the Russian Federation Sent for Participation in the Activities Aimed at Maintenance and Restoration of International Peace and Security” adopted on June 23, 1995.
The law specifies the following procedures:
preparation of the contingent: at the cost of the sums the federal budget sets aside for national defense;
maintenance of the contingent for the duration of the peacekeeping operation: at the cost of what the federal budget reserves for “International activities”.
The Defense Ministry has already made all necessary calculations and determined how much money the Russian peacekeeping contingent in Kosovo will need.
According to preliminary estimates, these expenses will amount to the following:(in rubles)66.8 million for preparation of the peacekeeping operation;(in hard currency)$69.4 million for the deployment of the contingent and maintenance of the personnel for a period of one year (what remains of 1999 and six first months of 2000).
The Defense Ministry firmly believes that all expenses involved in our participation in the peacekeeping operation in Kosovo should be met in strict accordance with the acting legislation. In this case, this participation will not tap the finances set aside for combat training and will not end in new wage arrears.
Question: How does the financial crisis affect the acquisition of new weapons and equipment? Do the troops plan to receive anything by way of new toys in the next several years?
Answer: It is common knowledge that tempos of moral and physical ageing of weapons and equipment have greatly increased in the last several years. This fact is mostly attributed to economic problems. Between 1991 and 1998 the sums the Defense Ministry received for weapons acquisition went down more than ten-fold in compatible prices. In 1998, we received only 13% of the sum allocated for the purpose by the budget.
As a result, the Defense Ministry is forced to concentrate what money it has on preservation and development of nuclear deterrent means and on modernization and maintenance of what weapons and equipment the Armed Forces already have.
On the other hand, we are forced to buy single samples of the most effective weapons so as to support the nucleus of the domestic military-industrial complex without which we will never be able to rearm the Army and Navy when the economic situation in the country ameliorated.
Major armaments like aircraft, tanks, and missile complexes are bought in small numbers only. For the time being, we cannot do anything about this state of affairs.
Question: Could you please outline the main results of the West’99 strategic command exercise?
Answer: This was the largest exercise in the history of the Russian Armed Forces. It involved command structures and operational groups of five military districts, three fleets, and 23 formations of branches of the service and other security structures. More than 50 units and formations were involved when correctness of the decisions was tested and when practical problems of troops command were drilled. Tactical maneuvers with shooting exercises and actual missile launches were organized for these units. Territorially, the exercise spanned Western Russia and a part of Central Russia. The “hostilities” were waged on the territory from the Barents to the Black Sea. Complicated operational-strategic conditions were set up.
Summing it all up, I can say that everything was organized properly, without a single glitch. Generals and officers, headquarters and command structures operated purposefully. All training problems were worked out, objectives of the exercise accomplished.
Question: Have any new kinds of weapons been used in the West’99?
Answer: Unfortunately, financial difficulties prevented the full use of new weapons and systems. That is why a special emphasis was made on the use of standard weapons and equipment or of their modifications. Moreover, new ways and means of the use of weapons and equipment were actively sought.
Specifically, we gained certain experience in the use of new automatic systems of troop control. The latest equipment and new software were used.
Question: Were the warring parties in the exercise specified?
Answer: We have not been specifying the enemy for several years already. In the course of the West’99, we did not operate against any specific enemy either.
Question: A few words about international problems, please. When and on what conditions future cooperation between the Defense Ministry and NATO (including that within the framework of the Permanent Joint Council) is possible?
Answer: We intend to use the mechanism of the Russian-NATO Permanent Joint Council (PJC) as a lever of political control over the peacekeeping operation in Kosovo.
We frequently stress that this intention does not mean that our relations with the Alliance will be “defrosted” to the full extent. It is but strict implementation of the Russian-NATO Pact on joint peacekeeping actions under the aegis of the United Nations.
On the other hand, the whole complex of our relations with the Alliance will depend to a great deal on how successful our cooperation with NATO in this sphere is.
We are now working on dates and potential parameters of the work of the PJC in coordination of actions within the framework of the peacekeeping operation.
Question: How would you appraise implementation of the Helsinki agreements on Russian peacekeepers’ presence in Kosovo?
Answer: Resolution No 1244 of the UN Security Council (June 10, 1999), provides the international legal foundation for our participation in the peacekeeping operation in Kosovo. During the Helsinki negotiations, we assumed that Russia’s participation in the international peacekeeping presence in Kosovo should be extended and should see to the long-term interests of the country.
In accordance with these agreements, the Russian peacekeeping contingent will be deployed in four sectors: in Kosovo center, near the Slatina airport, and to the south of the ton of Pristina, the capital.
The airport will be controlled by Russian troopers, and its commandant will be a Russian officer. All ground equipment and the terminal are “under Russian control”. The airport is already prepared for joint exploitation in the interests of all peacekeeping contingents. The work on its international certification (safety of flights, you know) is over. Along with that, a Russian material base is being created nearby. All objects are guarded by Russian servicemen. Russian representatives participate in the planning and organization of flights. The command and headquarters of the Russian contingent will be quartered near the airport.
Russian troopers will also fulfill missions in three operationally important areas: in western, northwestern, and eastern Kosovo where mostly Serbians reside. Manning their zones of responsibility, Russian paratroopers will cooperate with the German, French, British, and American contingents.
Operational command will be in the hands of the General Staff. In the interests of better cooperation with international contingents, representatives of Russian troops will be appointed to all their command structures. Russian representatives will also be at the SACEUR headquarters, NATO southern headquarters, and at the headquarters of the KFOR commander.
Coordination on the military-political level will be executed through the Main Russian Representative in NATO within the framework of the Russian-NATO PJC.
Guided by the resolution of the Federation Council and resolution of the Russian government, we plan to send 3,616 servicemen to Kosovo. They all are volunteers, brandishing standard weapons. Five battalions of Airborne Troops, an Air Force group, and an auxiliary battalion.
We are now transporting the contingent to Kosovo by air, sea, and land. All necessary agreements were reached with the governments through whose countries Russian troopers will be transported. The contingent will be fully deployed by August.
Question: The last group of questions concerns anti-ballistic missile defense. Americans plan creation of a national anti-ballistic missile defense system in their country. What do you think about these plans? What can we respond with?
Answer: Issues of anti-ballistic missile defense are the cornerstone of the process of strategic arms reduction, that is why we keep an eye on what is happening in the United States around the bill on the anti-ballistic missile defense system. Creation of this system will be a direct violation of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Defense Treaty. Unfortunately, our analysts do not eliminate the possibility that forced by domestic policy considerations, President Clinton may sign the bill.
We do not consider this move objectively necessary. We are aware that appearance of the anti-ballistic missile defense system will render negotiations on the strategic arms reduction useless. Moreover, it will provoke another arms race, wreck the whole system of treaties on arms control, and provide an impetus to the process of proliferation of mass destruction weapons and their delivery means.
We hope that the United States Administration is also aware of the negative consequences of the smash of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Defense Treaty.
If Washington defies common sense and pushes on with creation of the anti-ballistic missile defense system, Russia will have to take adequate steps to ensure its national security.
I won’t go into details here. Suffice to say that these steps concern further perfection of our strategic nuclear forces. We do not eliminate the possibility of other “asymmetric” steps as well which will reduce the potential of anti-ballistic missile defense systems to zero.
I can only remind you all that Russia has been and still is a country of high technologies. Let nobody harbor any illusions on that score.