High prices on energy carriers affected even the Russian Ministry of Defense. Staying with an official visit in Bishkek on September 20, the head of the Ministry, Sergey Ivanov, stated that army as well as the agricultural sector suffers from soaring petrol prices.

“Armed forces and agriculture should not buy fuel at West-European prices. We have an advantage of an oil-producing country and we should use this advantage,” said Ivanov. “There is no oil products market in Russia,” he added. “Complete monopoly reigns there.”

This is the first pointed statement of the defense minister. It is addressed to the government, as a matter of fact. Assured tone of the Ivanov’s criticism can be explained by the fact that the legislative power of the country entirely backs up his view. Viktor Zavarzin, the head of the Duma defense committee, shared Sergey Ivanov’s concern at a recent press conference. The main issues of the defense budget the deputies are worried about are the potential money shortage for POL purchases, payments of fuel and energy complex’ expenses, military transportation, provisions, supplies, housing and other expenses, Zavarzin said. That is why it was suggested to include into the law on the state budget a regulation that will enable the government to appropriate additional funds for that purpose. According to Zavarzin, the Russian Armed forces will face problems with POL much earlier than in 2006. By the end of 2005, the Ministry of Defense may have a deficit of funds on provisions, POL, military transportation, housing services, and some other expenses to the total amount of more than 20 billion rubles, the Duma thinks. That is why they will have to correct this-year budget, Zavarzin says.

The government has the money and it can easily supply the needs of the military department. The letter presented to the State Duma by Premier Mikhail Fradkov can affirm this statement. It is the answer to the parliament interpellation “On POL endowment of the Russian Armed Forces and other military units under the increasing oil prices”. In 2006, the expenses for special fuel and POL amount to 38.2 billion roubles “which will enable the military training of the army and navy troops, better criminal investigations and other operations,” is said in the letter. The prime minister also informs the deputies that “special plan of actions is under way to enhance control over oil products spending”. “The government thoroughly controls the provision of the Armed Forces with POL, the official reply states.

Therefore, the government reacts to the energy carriers’ shortage in the army and in the navy. Meanwhile the Cabinet has no intentions of increasing the amount of POL for the troops in 2006. It means that, for instance, an average pilot’s flight time will again equal 40 hours per year instead of the due 200 hours. The number of ship sorties and navy exercises will remain the same. All these facts imply that the year 2006, will not witness any serious qualitative change in the military skills improvement of the Russian troops.