In its February issue, Sovershenno sekretno’s Vladimir Spasibo examines the State Program of Armaments, 2011-2020, and tries to say if Russia can afford it. Or more importantly, whether the new GPV makes sense given that Russia is unlikely to go to war with NATO, the U.S. or China. Spasibo also casts a critical eye at whether the OPK is up to the task of fulfilling the GPV. This author doesn’t vouch for Mr. Spasibo’s numbers and math; they are relayed as in the original. But his arguments are interesting and useful.
Spasibo says, after 2013, the GPV’s 22 trillion rubles [19 trillion for the Armed Forces] will amount to almost 4 trillion annually for the military, or 8 percent of Russia’s GDP as compared with 5 percent in the U.S. and 2-3 percent in other NATO countries. Buried a little down in the text, he cites Deputy Prime Minister Sergey Ivanov on the 1.2 trillion ruble State Defense Order for 2010, and Prime Minister Putin’s assertion that this amount will triple in 2013.
And the military actually wanted more — 36 trillion, which Spasibo claims would be 15 percent of GDP, an amount equal to the Soviet defense burden before the USSR’s collapse. He asks if this isn’t too much for a country just emerged from an economic crisis. And what threat is this colossal military budget directed against?
He turns to Defense Minister Serdyukov’s explanation to Der Spiegel: terrorism, proliferation, and NATO expansion.
Spasibo suggests the thrifty French defense reform which, for less than Russia’s 22 trillion rubles, “Created a small, balanced grouping with modern equipment. Capable of instant reaction and an adequate response to any threat to France’s interests.” He continues:
“The approach of the current Russian military, more precisely civil-military, leadership toward reform of the Armed Forces is somewhat similar. The preconditions, it’s true, are different, and the goals are foggier.”
Who, asks Spasibo, are Russia’s enemies, and against whom is it supposed to fight? The Military Doctrine and other pronouncements make it sound like the answer is the U.S. and NATO, as well as nonstate irregular armed forces inside and outside Russian Federation borders . . . leaving Moscow to prepare both VKO against a high-tech enemy with highly accurate long-range weapons, and low-tech enemies conducting guerrilla warfare and sabotage-terrorist actions.
Spasibo then turns to thinking about which services and defense enterprises will get GPV money:
- According to its commander, the RVSN will replace 80 percent of its ICBM inventory (roughly 300 missiles) by the end of 2016 for a price that Spasibo puts at 1.9 trillion rubles.
- Spasibo thinks VKO and PRO might cost 3 trillion by 2020.
- The Air Forces are looking to renew 70 percent of their aircraft, 1,500 aircraft in all including 350 new combat aircraft for 3.8 trillion.
- Spasibo believes the Ground Troops will get 7.6 trillion to replace combat vehicles including 60 percent of their tanks and BMPs, and 40 percent of their BTRs, that are over 10 years old.
- And the Navy, as reported elsewhere, will get 4.7 trillion.
That all adds to 21 trillion rubles.
Of the Germans also felt the effects of economic turmoil in the 1930s and they also entered a period of investing… some would say over investing, in their military forces. They were very successful in many ways of working their way from an economic collapse to become the leaders in many areas of technology.
Obviously there are clear differences… Russia already has plenty of living space in the East and does not need to cross any borders to access it.
Equally if there are Russian citizens suffering in neighbouring countries then they should move back to Russia and not expect Russia to invade the country they live in… unless they can do so peacefully through the ballot box, or have their hands forced by their neighbours like South Ossetia and Abkhazia which as independent states now no longer need to worry about the effect of Georgian government policies on their lives.
As long as the goal is to create a modern mobile force able to protect Russias interests at home first and then later abroad without it costing too much then I think there is no problem.
Anyone thinking it will happen in a year or two is deluding themselves as much as anyone who thinks not spending the money is a solution too.
Mistakes will be made… it is clear the got rid of too many officers too quickly. There is no manual to show the correct way to change from a cold war Soviet Army to a modern Russian one that outlines exact solutions to all problems. There were clearly too many officers and something had to be done. The cuts were too deep and needed correcting… that doesn’t mean the idea was wrong, just the implementation in this case… clearly they slashed instead of cut.