Over the last two weeks relations between the energy monopoly and representatives of military units in Russia resemble reports about combat operations. Energy was deliberately cut off from the military observation center of Russian Space Forces on Kamchatka on January 26, when Russian Yury Onufrienko and American Daniel Bursch, members of the expedition to the International Space Station, were working in outer space. According to military experts, this cutting off could have led to loss of orientation of the International Space Station and shutting down of all 157 satellites fulfilling both defensive and civil tasks.
More outrageous incidents related with cutting power off from the garrisons of Air Force and Air Defense Forces units on combat duty occurred in the Primorsky Territory and Trans-Baikalia. After cutting of power off from several garrisons of the Siberian Military District representatives of the fourteenth Air Force and Air Defense Forces Army (Novosibirsk, Commander Nikolai Danilov) arrived at the Ingoda and Kolochnoe sub-stations. Wielding their weapons they broke the locks and the doors and voluntarily switched on the power. RAO EES Rossii filed a suit against the command of the fourteenth army. In turn, the command of the Siberian Military District considered cutting off of power from the military units illegal and complained about the actions of the energy company to the military prosecutor’s office of the district and to the prosecutor’s office of the Chita Region. According to the PR service of the Siberian Military District, the aforementioned offices began investigation.
A commission headed by Air Force Commander Colonel General Mikhailov arrived in the Far East to study the problems of the Primorsky Territory and Trans-Baikalia.
According to the energy company, as of January 25, the Siberian Military District owed more than 75 million rubles to RAO EES, including about 35 million rubles of outstanding debts. On January 23, RAO EES limited supply of electric energy to the buildings subordinated to the military housing department and threatened to cut the power off completely in five years if the military did not take any measures. Which measures can the military take if it is the Finance Ministry that transfers money to them to pay for energy? It turns out that the Armed Forces are between the devil and the deep blue sea. Garrisons will be waiting for money from the government, but it is possible that the government will not send the money. Then new conflicts of the military with the energy company will begin. Who needs this?
The Main Housing Department of the Defense Ministry reported that recently similar incidents occurred practically in all military districts, fleets, and branches of the Armed Forces. According to the military, somehow regional divisions of RAO EES Rossii began a real war against the units of the Armed Forces, cutting the power off from their properties including command posts, units of permanent readiness and so on. What is the most important, according to Colonel Nikolai Deryabin of the PR service of the Defense Ministry, the military is making all current payments in due manner, and military properties are cut off from power for the past debts. Of course, at this point the officer is not quite sincere. At any rate, the Armed Forces themselves do not delay the payments. Having introduced accounting and payments through the treasury the government made accounts of the military units transparent. The military cannot spend the money on the military accounts on other goals. That is why the military is waiting for money from the government to pay for energy. The energy company somehow does not want to wait.
Meanwhile, it is prohibited to cut the power off from the installations that are on combat duty. There is a special presidential decree signed back in 1995. The decree states that cutting the power off from these military installations threatens security of the state.
However, it seems that Chubais and his team have forgotten about this. Representatives of RAO EES launched an attack on the Armed Forces over the last two weeks, after Chubais met with President Vladimir Putin on January 14. Then, Putin reminded Chubais that he should use an informal approach in the work with the regional organizations having debts for electric energy and should take into account their interests.
It is possible only to guess why Chubais took the presidential instructions in such an original way. He forgot about the problems of national security and did not take into account that it was the state that gives money to the Armed Forces to pay for energy and began a struggle against the national defense organizations. Officers in the garrisons ask reasonable questions, “Maybe we do not need to defend national security anymore, and what Chubais is doing is permitted by the government?” There is no answer to this question yet, although military units regularly report about the undermining of combat readiness to the Supreme Commander-in-Chief. He keeps silent, and RAO EES Rossii feels that it is right. Recently the company disseminated letters with new threats to the Defense Ministry. The PR service of the energy holding announced that RAO EES would not allow supply of energy free of charge anymore, and demanded the Defense Ministry restore order in assignment of money to military units and provide for complete payment for consumed energy resources.
Officials of the Finance Ministry say that there is no need to dramatize the situation, and the government will transfer money to military units to pay for energy soon. Officers of the Defense Ministry talked about the same thing with optimism. The Defense Ministry owes about 1.5 billion rubles to RAO EES. This is slightly more than 1% of overall debts to the company of all consumers. Can this circumstance be a pretext for undermining of the country’s combat capability?
Pressurizing of the Armed Forces with regard to its energy supply is a political issue. Doing this Chubais is obviously showing (especially after his meeting with Putin) the impotence of the incumbent authorities. Have elections to the Duma begun already, or is the Right-Wing Forces Union launching its own PR campaign targeted at discrediting of the President’s image? This is too bold, is it not?