The new political season in Russia was marked with statements of politicians about accelerated approval of the national budget for next year. Among the topics that are discussed now are defense expenditures for 2007 and for the future. Thus, participants of the recent meeting of the military industrial commission pointed out that in 2007, the state defense order through the Defense Ministry would exceed 300 billion roubles. This sum is 29% more than in 2006. Overall, it is planned to spend 821,171,900,000 roubles on national defense. This is not very much if we bear in mind that this figure amounts only to 2.8% of the GDP and budget surplus of the country for 2007, is planned at a level of almost 1 trillion roubles.
Major General Nikolai Bezborodov, Duma deputy from Motherland faction, says that for national defense “it is necessary to allocate not less than 3.5% of the GDP” starting from 2007.
Bezborodov asks, “Why 3.5%?” and answers, “Because this is the minimum that will accelerate armament of the armed forces with new types and models, which means that the speed of rearming will be faster than the speed of discarding old armament. It is impossible to go lower. This is manifested by military science and all states stick to these laws of the military service because if 2% of the GDP allocated this means already complete decomposition of the armed forces and if the allocation is less than 2% of the GDP this means looting of the state. That is why 3.5% is the minimum that we consider necessary.”
Meanwhile, Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov says that in the next few years Russia will spend only 2.7-2.8% of the GDP on defense. Proceeding from these parameters, under the draft state program of armament development between 2007 and 2015, expenditures on the program will amount to about 5 trillion roubles. Thus, about 500 billion roubles a year will be spent on the state defense order annually. Of course, this figure is more than the figure determined by the budget for 2007. However, judging by comments of experts it is also obviously insufficient.
Speaking about the prospects for development of only one branch of the Armed Forces in the form of the Navy, Navy Commander Admiral Vladimir Masorin announced recently that buildup and modernization of the Navy in the next ten years required 3.7 billion roubles and authorities allocated only 1.2 trillion roubles or 66.67% less. Will Russia have a modern navy and other branches of armed forces under such conditions?
Pointing at growing expenditures on purchase of armament Russian leaders simultaneously say that not all needs of the Armed Forces will be financed by 100% of the necessary level. Thus, according to Vladimir Putilin, senior deputy chair of the governmental military industrial commission, in 2007, “The needs for development of strategic nuclear forces, purchase of the necessary quantity of armament for all three components of the nuclear triad will be financed actually without deficit. Units of permanent readiness and forces involved in antiterrorist activity will be financed almost without deficit too.”
This means that problems are still expected with regard to other articles of development of the Armed Forces. For example, very much is said now about growing quantity of naval exercises and voyages of ships. There is really progress but what kind of progress? According to official data voiced recently by Navy Commander Admiral Vladimir Masorin in 2005, in the Russian Navy “sailing time of ships of the first and second rank amounted to 26 days and for ships of the third and fourth rank it amounted to 15 days. Flight time for a crews of naval aviation amounted to 34 hours on average.” Behind these figures of dry statistics it is seen that despite the optimistic statements of leaders of the country about significant increase of defense expenditures the major part of the ships of the national Navy have spent 11 of the 12 months near the mooring lines. The same is applicable to naval pilots. In the leading countries of the world an average flight time of a naval pilot is not less than 150 hours a year, which is 200% more than the flight time in Russian naval aviation now.
Thus, problems in financing the Russian Armed Forces are not solved yet. In the present article we highlighted only some problems existing in the Navy. Situation is similar in other branches of the Armed Forces. This means that sooner or later authorities of the country will have to make a decision either on increase of military expenditures or on reduction of the army to increase efficiency of the money allocated on national defense. If this is not done the army will face decomposition. This very conclusion was drawn recently by Duma deputy and former Defense Minister Igor Rodionov.