THE DEFENSE MINISTRY DOESN’T DO CHARITY

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Nuclear arms get priority in Russia’s arms procurement spending

State arms procurement targets for 2009 will be achieved despite the crisis. The federal budget’s National Defense item contains 1.2 trillion rubles in funding for 2009. Over 500 billion rubles of this is allocated for development, maintenance, and procurement of arms and military hardware.


Deputy Defense Minister Vladimir Popovkin, the Defense Ministry official responsible for armaments, said on April 10 that state arms procurement targets for 2009 will be achieved despite the crisis.

The federal budget’s National Defense item contains 1.2 trillion rubles in funding for 2009. Over 500 billion rubles of this is allocated for development, maintenance, and procurement of arms and military hardware. The Defense Ministry has signed around 3,500 contracts (worth a total of over 300 billion rubles). According to Popovkin, the contractor enterprises have already received 130 billion rubles – but some of them are having serious problems. For example, a pre-strike situation has developed at the Unified Shipbuilding Corporation’s 33rd Shipyard (Baltiisk, Kaliningrad region), where pay backlogs have reached 9 million rubles since January and the Defense Ministry has failed to pay bills totalling 13 million rubles. The situation is similar at the 94th auto repair plant (Kaliningrad region), where the Defense Ministry owes 66.9 million rubles.

According to Popovkin, the Defense Ministry’s aim is “receiving military hardware, not doing charity work”: that is, funding intended for arms procurement will not be used to cover spending by enterprises not connected with producing military hardware.

The strategic nuclear forces are still being prioritized. The process of arming another missile regiment with Topol-M ICBMs is approaching completion. The Yuri Dolgoruky, a Project 955 Borei nuclear submarine, is being tested; two similar vessels, the Alexander Nevsky and the Vladimir Monomakh, are under construction at the Sevmash shipyard.

A Sevmash spokesman told the RIA Novosti news agency last week that construction of the fourth Project 955 Borei submarine will be started this year. Andrei Frolov (Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies) says this might lead to “funding intended for three submarines being stretched to cover four, causing delays in the process of rearming Russia’s naval nuclear forces.”

According to Popovkin, the Russian Air Force will receive 49 new and upgraded planes this year, and 31 helicopters. Popovkin also confirmed that the Defense Ministry has signed a contract to buy some unpiloted aerial vehicles from Israel; he declined to name the company that will supply them.

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