SITUATION IN THE RUSSIAN ARMY IS COMPLICATED

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The situation in the Russian army is complicated now, satisfaction of “some needs is below the required level,” chief of the General Staff Anatoly Kvashnin said of late. Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov’s announcements, related to the state of the army and the fleet are as a rule, more restrained and less critical, which is indirectly proving availability of some controversies between the defense minister and chief of the General Staff.

There’s talk that Kvashnin will be removed from position of Chief of the General Staff. To all appearances, everybody is tired of his inconsistent moves, related to army reformation. By his proposal the combat arms of RVSN, the Space Forces and the Missile-Space Defense Forces were merged into the new force – the RVSN. Nowadays, this phase of a military reform has been admitted fallacious and the Space Forces and the Space Defense Forces have again become independent forces. The RVSN has also lost its status of a force (it is now an independent combat arm). The Ground Forces Main Command was disbanded in 1998. It was restored in 2001 and the status of the Main Ground Forces Commander was brought to the level of deputy defense minister.

The chief of General Staff and the defense minister disagree in relation to parameters of the draft federal targeted program on transition of the troops to a professional basis in 2004-2007. The finance ministry agreed to concessions for the military in the amount of 1,500 rubles per month for a contract serviceman’s family for leasing apartments. Over the next four years, 7.1 billion rubles will be spent on these purposes. The amount is impressive but it is much smaller than the figure of 20 billion rubles scheduled for construction of family dormitories.

Issues related to determining the spending on combat training have been moot points between the General Staff and the finance ministry until lately. According to Viktor Storonin, head of the department for military-economic analysis and expertise, the finance ministry was insisting that “the costs of providing the training process (10.3 billion rubles) and getting the training material base to the level appropriate to train professionals (2.4 billion rubles)” be excluded from the federal targeted program.

It is not ruled out that Sergei Ivanov may consent to the reduced parameters of the 2004 military budget Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin presented last Thursday. The General Staff was proposing to spend some 25-26 billion rubles for the purposes of the federal targeted program in 2004. The finance ministry’s proposals are more modest: 8.6 billion rubles to gradually make the army professional.

“We understand why the finance ministry is struggling for every ruble of the program. There are economic problems which should be taken into consideration. No matter which figures are announced and planned, the algorithm of transferring the troops onto a professional basis is determined and coordinated with all the organizations concerned,” Lieutenant General Vasily Smirnov, deputy chief of the General Staff told our agency.

Undoubtedly there are economic problems, as well as personal ones. Chief of the General Staff wants to make no concessions to the government and Ivanov, the defense minister. The intractable chief of the General Staff is concerned for small amounts of defense spending. Last year, Kvashnin said that the situation in the army “had crossed the critical point,” whereas nowadays he is milder, although the military spending scheduled for 2004 is lower than the 2003 military expenditures – only 2.6% of the GDP, while in 2003 this figure amounted 2.65% of the GDP. Any comments are needless.

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