Makarov on Iran, Lasers, Deferments, and Bulava

Attending today’s OPK modernization meeting in Ramenskoye, General Staff Chief, Army General Nikolay Makarov talked to the press, and said:

“A decision not to supply Iran with the S-300 was made, it, of course, falls under the sanctions.  The leadership made a decision to stop the supply process, we are fulfilling it.”   

He wouldn’t say the contract to supply them has been broken.  Apparently asked if the missiles could be provided in the future, Makarov said:

“We’ll see, this will depend on Iran’s conduct.”

Unnamed official sources put the price of the Iranian S-300 contract at hundreds of millions of dollars.

ITAR-TASS reiterated Defense Minister Serdyukov’s 20 August comment on providing Iran the S-300:

“We aren’t supplying anything.  There’s no decision on supplying them.”

Makarov’s comments coincided with President Medvedev’s ukaz implementing UNSCR 1929 from 9 June.  The ukaz expressly listed the S-300 as an item not to be transferred from Russia to Iran. 

Asked about Russia’s military laser program, Army General Makarov said development is on-going:

“Work on a combat laser goes on throughout the world, including here.”

He added that it was premature to talk about the characteristics of Russia’s laser system.

Answering another question, Makarov said student draft deferments won’t be abolished:

“The possibility of ending deferments for students is not being considered.  This issue is too socially significant.”

“There are many other measures which will allow us to resolve the situation [with the draft].”

He added that he expects Serdyukov to talk about the draft at Friday’s Defense Ministry collegium.

Asked if compulsory military service will be increased from 12 months, he said, “I don’t know if there’s sense in this.”

But Makarov went on to vent his frustration about conscription:

“Today not more than 13 percent of young people are called up, the rest aren’t called up for health reasons.  We need to understand what is happening .  It can’t be that only 13 percent of our young people are healthy.  Among people getting a deferment or exemption from the army on health grounds, 40 percent of them had documents either purchased or manufactured in some way.  In other words, there’s an issue, and we need to toughen monitoring in this area.”

Thirteen percent is really low.  And the corruption rate when it comes to health exams in commissariats is at least 40 percent.  We need to explore his numbers and math.  These are startling figures.

Makarov paid a little respect to Serdyukov’s fledgling effort to ‘humanize’ conscript service:

“A number of measures to reduce the load on prospective conscripts are being reviewed.”

Finally, press questions turned to the pending Bulava SLBM tests.  Makarov said:

“The missiles which we’re preparing to launch were produced from beginning to end under strict monitoring by military acceptance, the Defense Ministry, and the Military-Industrial Commission.  A great deal will depend on these launches.  If the launches are unsuccessful, then we have to shake up fundamentally the entire cycle of missile production.”

On the timing of the next Bulava test, Makarov contradicted Serdyukov’s last statement by saying:

“It’s doubtful this will happen in September.”

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