Monthly Archives: May 2011

More Appointments, Etc.

The wave of appointments, dismissals, and reshuffling in the upper echelons of the military leadership continues . . . this one features the dismissal of Vice-Admiral Borisov, the shipbuilding chief, who reportedly went down over his role in the December round of Mistral talks with the French.  This one also has a lot of changes and shuffling of officers in RVSN armies.

Here’s what President Medvedev’s 19 April decree on Defense Ministry personnel does.

Relieve:

  • Colonel Aleksandr Vasilyevich Deryavko from the post of Commander, 60th Missile Division.

Relieve and dismiss from military service:

  • Vice-Admiral Nikolay Konstantinovich Borisov from the post of Chief, Shipbuilding, Armaments, and Arms Servicing, Deputy CINC for Armaments, Navy.

Appoint:

  • Colonel Aleksandr Vladimirovich Kasyanenko, Deputy Commander, 31st Missile Army, relieved of duty as Chief, Military Academy of the RVSN Branch (Rostov-na-Donu).
  • General-Major Aleksandr Dmitriyevich Sivachev, Deputy Chief, Military Academy of the RVSN, relieved of duty as Chief of Staff, First Deputy Commander, 33rd Missile Army.
  • General-Major Valeriy Yevgenyevich Tarazevich, Chief of Staff, First Deputy Commander, 33rd Missile Army, relieved of duty as Deputy Commander, 33rd Missile Army.
  • General-Major Ivan Nikolayevich Kuzichkin, Deputy Commander, 33rd Missile Army.
  • General-Major Viktor Vladimirovich Lizvinskiy, Chief, Organizational-Technical Directorate, Deputy Chief, Main Armor Directorate, Defense Ministry.
  • Colonel Andrey Gennadyevich Loginov, Commander, 60th Missile Division.
  • Colonel Andrey Nikolayevich Mordvichev, Commander, 4th Independent Tank Brigade.
  • Colonel Aleksandr Ivanovich Novkin, Commander, 138th Independent Motorized Rifle Brigade.

Appointments, Etc.

Way behind on these.

On April 25, President Medvedev issued his most recent decree on Defense Ministry personnel.  Here’s what it does.

Appoint:

  • Colonel Sergey Vladimirovich Bibik, Chief, Armor Service, Western MD.
  • Colonel Viktor Vladimirovich Voronov, Chief, Rear Services Support Directorate, Eastern MD, relieved of duty as Chief of Rear Services, Deputy Commander for Rear Services, Far East MD. 
  • Colonel Pavel Anatolyevich Shushpanov, Deputy Chief, 12th Main Directorate, Defense Ministry.

Kicking the Defense Ministry and OPK

President's Meeting on the OPK

President Medvedev is irritated as ever that the Defense Ministry and OPK aren’t moving out smartly to rearm and reequip the Armed Forces.  He’s trying to kick them into gear, but can he get results where his predecessors either didn’t care or simply failed?

According to Kremlin.ru, Medvedev met this afternoon in Gorki with a host of government officials and industrial chiefs.  They included, inter alia, Sergey Ivanov, Anatoliy Serdyukov, Vladimir Popovkin, Nikolay Makarov, Denis Manturov, Yuriy Borisov, Sergey Chemezov, Sergey Nikulin, Mikhail Pogosyan, and Roman Trotsenko.

Medvedev’s opening monologue enumerated what’s been done for defense industry — providing a full state defense order and financial support, creating integrated development and production structures [OSK, OAK], etc..

Then the President says:

“However, despite all adopted measures, the state of defense production cannot be called good, all attending understand this.  There are objective reasons:  the deterioration of enterprises’ basic capital is nearly 70 percent (on average), in some enterprises it’s all much worse.  We still have not even managed to establish effective mechanisms to attract innovation and off-budget resources to the defense-industrial complex.”

Medvedev goes on to say that all relevant documents, including the GPV 2011-2020, have been signed, but the assembled group still needs to think about how to implement the GPV.  He reviews how he talked at the Defense Ministry Collegium in March about balancing producer and buyer interests, about justifiable and understandable prices.

But in many areas, says Medvedev, this has already become moot, and he intends to increase responsibility for the fulfillment of these obligations.

First, he wants a Federal Goal Program for OPK Development in 2011-2020.  Its focus is to be “real readiness” of the OPK to produce actual weapons and equipment.

Second, he wants the Defense Ministry to finish placing GOZ-2011 completely by the end of May, and advance payments issued to producers in accordance with the 2011 and 2012-2013 plans.

Work to date, he says, is going poorly and slowly.  He reminds the assembled that he told them about the failure of previous state armament programs:

“Today I want to hear from all present why this happened:  both from government leaders, and from industry leaders, who was punished for this and how.  Report proposals to me, if they still aren’t implemented, with positions, with the types of responsibility, completely concretely.  If such  proposals aren’t reported, it means [industrial] sector leaders and government leaders have to answer for it.”

It’s unacceptable, he says, that high-level decisions have been made, money allocated, but a product isn’t supplied.  He recalls his late 2009 Poslaniye in which he said 30 land- and sea-based ballistic missiles, 5 Iskander missile systems, nearly 300 armored vehicles, 30 helicopters, 28 combat aircraft, 3 nuclear submarines, one corvette, and 11 satellites would be delivered in 2010.  

Everyone here, says Medvedev, agreed with this, so why wasn’t it done.  He is, he says, waiting for an answer, and:

“. . . we have to answer for the duties we’ve taken on ourselves, we look simply in this sense absolutely unacceptable.”

Medvedev finishes by saying he knows military production is profitable, and it’s possible to attract strategic investors.  He says he wants to talk about how to stimulate investment.  The goal for the day is concrete reports on what’s been done on the level of those responsible for organizing work and correcting the situation in defense industry.

Where’s this leave things?

Not exactly throwing down the gauntlet, just another warning that he’s getting serious.  But it’s doubtful the government or defense industry will take Medvedev seriously until he fires a minister, other high-ranking official, or an important enterprise director.  And it’ll probably take more than a couple dismissals to get anyone’s attention.  Medvedev is running out of time on this account (as well as others).  Those he’d like to make responsible or punish will just take the tongue-lashings and wait him out.

Full Parade Coverage

Here’s Pervyy kanal’s complete coverage of today’s parade.  The second half starts as soon as you reach the end of the first.

Victory Day Parade

Here’s the link for Vesti.ru’s seven-minute report on today’s 63-minute Red Square parade.

New Mil.ru

The New Mil.ru

A new look for the RF Defense Ministry website’s been unveiled (in testing mode, so far).

The first treat we’re supposed to get is video from tonight’s Red Square rehearsal of Monday’s Victory Day parade.  There’s a place to click for it, but it’s obviously not loaded yet.

So, say farewell to the old Mil.ru.

Farewell Old Mil.ru

Old Mil.ru had a nice rundown of the Defense Ministry’s organizational structure that was once well maintained, but became an untended mess after Anatoliy Serdyukov arrived in 2007 and changed the Russian military bureaucracy in myriad ways.

RF Defense Ministry Structure on the Old Mil.ru

New Mil.ru is pared down, so far, in this respect, showing only a slicker (but up-to-date) rundown of Serdyukov’s deputies.

New Defense Ministry Leadership Page

Strategic Fireworks

Warhead Impact Crater (photo: Novaya gazeta)

Being practically the eve of Victory Day, news is hard to come by.  

Novaya gazeta, however, was nice enough to print an interesting article about Russia’s strategic shooting gallery — Kamchatka’s Kura test range.

The author says, from the air, this 13,206 square kilometer patch of taiga looks like an unattractive golf course with a great quantity of holes.  In Kura’s 55-year history, more than 5,500 “items” have landed here.

Kura was called Kama at the time of its establishment in 1955, and two years later, the first missile, an R-7 (SS-6 / Sapwood) — the world’s first ICBM, landed here.

Why this site?  An old hand at the Independent Scientific-Testing Station of Space Forces explains:

“There are several reasons for this.  Firstly, this is one of the most remote regions, that is it’s possible to test missiles here not only for firing accuracy, but for range.  Secondly, the trajectory of all flights was conducted only over the USSR’s territory.  Thirdly, the range was laid out at a great distance from populated points and airline routes.”

So, the military’s calculations were correct.  No aircraft or people ever suffered from a stray missile, but not every “item” landed as intended.  They cut into mountains, or splashed in the ocean.  In the early 1980s, one caused casualties in a Koryak reindeer herd.

Kura Test Range

“Items” land here less frequently now, not more than 20 per year.  In the past, there were up to 250 per year.  The old hand continues:

“In the Soviet years, warheads poured from the sky like off a conveyor belt.  Not just military here, but scientific life was also cooking here.  Groups from scientific-research institutes who were creating the Soviet ‘star’ program as a counterweight to the American SDI constantly came here.  But after perestroyka, most scientific research was rolled up.”

He says the range’s helicopter pilots are marvelous fliers, but it’s often the bears who first find what’s fallen from the heavens.  All the oxidized metal is bad for the environment, of course.

The local garrison is just tens of kilometers from the Klyuchevskaya Sopka volcano, and its ash and sulfuric acid takes a toll on equipment.

The author says the locals say the warhead flights are spectacular.  At first, there’s a bright star in the night sky, rapidly approaching the ground.  Then a flash so powerful the street’s lit like daytime, but doomsday lasts not more than a second.  In an instant, the big star separates into several smaller ones.  Up to 10 warheads separate from the platform and fly at their own targets.  Cooler than any fireworks.

V / ch 25522 has 200 conscripts, about the same number of contractees, and 500 officers.  Life in the garrison town is generally good.  Soldiers preferred the old “Afghan” uniforms to the new ones from Yudashkin.  The barracks are warm, and there’s been no violence or hazing in recent years, but there’s not much free time (or much to do) either.  Soldiers can use their cell phones on days off.

For Space Troops officers, service here is considered prestigious, and the pay is almost three times that in units in Central Russia.  A year of service here counts double for hardship.  The stores are significantly better stocked here than on the “mainland,” but the prices are also 2-3 times higher.

Like everywhere, officers are being retired or put in civilian billets.  Engineer pay at the range, with supplements and coefficients, is 25-30 thousand rubles a month.  A lieutenant colonel gets 50-60 thousand.

Winter is seven months, and earthquakes a daily occurrence.  The volcanic ash isn’t good for people, but it isn’t deadly, they say.

Many officers have served at Kura since the early or mid-1990s, and they don’t complain.  The work is interesting, and the surroundings beautiful.  Things are better than 10 years ago when personnel didn’t get paid, and pilots had to buy their own spares for their helicopters.  Now equipment gets repaired, and the pay’s on time.

Civilians Now Top Military Diplomats

There’s great interest in the new civilian chief of the Defense Ministry’s Main Directorate for International Military Cooperation (GU MVS).  With yesterday’s decree, President Medvedev appointed career diplomat Sergey Mikhaylovich Koshelev to this post.  Koshelev had been Deputy Director of the Foreign Ministry’s Department of Security and Disarmament Issues (DVBR or ДВБР).

Koshelev’s appointment followed that of former DVBR Director Anatoliy Antonov to be Deputy Defense Minister for International Military Cooperation.  So presumably close colleagues Koshelev and Antonov will collaborate again to promote Russia’s military interaction with foreign armies, with the former acting as the latter’s right hand.  The burgeoning “reload” or “reset” with the U.S. Defense Department and with NATO will be a principal preoccupation. 

According to ITAR-TASS, Koshelev has concentrated on strategic negotiations — including START, INF, missile defense, and military space issues — during his diplomatic career.  Today’s Rossiyskaya gazeta notes Koshelev had an active hand in negotiating the new START Treaty with the U.S.  The paper forecasts  he will be active on the issue of European missile defense.

Kommersant writes that Koshelev was born in Moscow on 26 June 1957.  In 1983, he graduated from the Institute of the Countries of Asia and Africa, proceeding to work in the diplomatic service in India.  From 1995, he worked on export control in the DVBR.  In 1998-2003, Koshelev was a counsellor in Moscow’s permanent mission to the U.N. Disarmament Conference in Geneva.  In addition to serving as DVBR Deputy Director, he was also chief of its multilateral disarmament section.  He was promoted to Russia’s third highest diplomatic rank — Envoy Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Second Class — in 2008.

Gazeta.ru and Gzt.ru postulate, not without some basis, that Antonov and Koshelev will be part of a new negotiating team for the Mistral purchase.

It’ll be interesting to see what Koshelev and Antonov do with GU MVS, a storied organization somewhat adrift in recent years.  Koshelev relieves acting chief, Colonel Yelena Knyazeva, an interesting character in her own right.  The press notes that General-Major Aleksey Sukhov was dismissed in 2010.  His predecessor was General-Lieutenant Vladimir Fedorov, who had headed the UVS — External Relations Directorate, charged with supervising foreign military attaches in Russia and Russian ones abroad.  We’ve noted on these pages that General-Colonel Anatoliy Mazurkevich left in a hurry when Defense Minister Serdyukov arrived, and General-Colonel Leonid Ivashov discovered the Defense Ministry wasn’t big enough for him and Sergey Ivanov.

So GU MVS once got its leadership from the ranks of Russia’s military diplomats, its military attaches, i.e. from its military intelligence officers and the GRU.  In Gzt.ru, Ivashov described the old GU MVS as an “instrument for warning of military dangers and threats to the USSR and Russia” [i.e. the GRU’s strategic military intelligence mission], but he acknowledged those days are gone and this main directorate has been “reformed” in recent years.

Su-35S to Start State Testing

In their excitement about new armaments, many observers have a hard time keeping book on the latest weapons, forcing yours truly to follow a few important systems like the Su-35S.  Some even say the Su-35S is already in the inventory, but a close look at press reporting shows otherwise.

The media reported the first series production Su-35S flew at KnAAPO in Komsomolsk-na-Amure yesterday.  After these factory trials, this aircraft will be delivered to the Defense Ministry.

Sukhoy has successfully completed preliminary testing on the Su-35S prototype.  Preliminary testing confirmed that its on-board systems meet technical requirements, checked its reliability and controllability, its engines, and navigation system.

According to ITAR-TASS, a Sukhoy spokesman said:

“The Su-35S has been presented for state joint testing [ГСИ or GSI].  The first step in the framework of the fighter’s state joint testing will be receipt of the preliminary finding of the customer – Russia’s Air Forces on the aircraft’s correspondence to main requirements with the aim of providing it to Air Forces’ operational units.”

Now recall that late last August Sukhoy said the Su-35S was completing preliminary testing and would start state testing in the fall.  Fall has become the following spring, and Sukhoy announces again that the Su-35S is ready to start GSI.

The Russians advertise the Su-35S as a 4++ generation fighter, using fifth generation technologies to give it an advantage over similar aircraft.

The Defense Ministry gave Sukhoy a contract to deliver 48 Su-35S by 2015, but Voyenno-promyshlennyy kuryer, among others, says the military department will probably buy 48 more in 2015-2020.  VPK goes further:

“According to some assessments, the Russian Air Forces need 150-200 Su-35S.  The Defense Ministry now intends to buy 60 fifth generation T-50 fighters in all.”

So VPK suggests some think the Su-35S should be a primary fighter rather than just a gap filler for PAK FA.

Naginskiy at Spetsstroy

The dust’s settled a bit on this story . . . in a 22 April decree, President Medvedev replaced Nikolay Abroskin as Director of the Federal Agency for Special Construction (Spetsstroy), putting Deputy Defense Minister Grigoriy Naginskiy in Abroskin’s place.

Grigoriy Naginskiy

What does the change at the top of this large, government-financed construction firm — nominally under Defense Ministry control — indicate?

Ending Abroskin’s 13-year tenure in the Spetsstroy empire took four years. According to Kompromat.ru, Defense Minister Serdyukov’s wanted Abroskin out from beginning, but, unlike in other personnel situations, it took him a while to win out.

The media says the anti-Abroskin operation was methodical.  On his 60th birthday, four-star Army General Abroskin was dismissed from the Armed Forces, but left in his civilianized post.  This created the convenient precedent to have another civilian succeed him.  Then Medvedev dismissed Abroskin’s long-time deputies and allies. 

According to Kommersant, Spetsstroy’s annual collegium in late March was a solemn affair, devoted mainly to talk about order, discipline, and anticorruption efforts.  But the Main Military Prosecutor wouldn’t tell Kommersant whether it was investigating Abroskin or anyone else at Spetsstroy.  Then the final stroke on Abroskin came three weeks later.

Spetsstroy’s a semi-militarized agency with ranks and, until this spring, conscripts, under formal Defense Ministry control, but traditionally and generally acting as an independent federal agency.  As its name suggests, Spetsstroy is responsible for special government construction projects – in the Soviet and Russian past, it built secret industrial, defense, and specialized facilities, but has also built more mundane military housing, bases, garrisons, road, and electrical power projects.  It also builds major state infrastructure like hydroelectric stations, dams, and bridges. 

Most of Spetsstroy’s work is no longer for the Defense Ministry.  Kommersant says only 26 percent of its 2010 work was for the Defense Ministry.  A Defense Ministry official told Vedomosti the territorial divisions of Spetsstroy, in particular, work essentially like private construction firms and contractors.  Kompromat put its 2009 revenue at 67.7 billion rubles, making it a large company, even a market leader, by Russian standards.

Its most recent controversy revolves around the alleged “Putin palace” on the Black Sea.  According to Newsru.com and other media outlets, Spetsstroy is building a billion-dollar residence for Prime Minister Putin’s personal use.  The money for the elaborate Italianate mansion allegedly came from Putin’s rich business cronies.

Now about Naginskiy . . . you remember his arrival at the Defense Ministry in early 2010 to be Serdyukov’s deputy for housing and construction.  The 52-year-old Piter native’s a construction magnate who got rich renovating nuclear power plants, and then entered politics.  He joined United Russia in 2002, and served in the Leningrad Oblast assembly before representing his region in the Federation Council.

According to Forbes, he’s the richest official in the Defense Ministry, but he’s only 45th on the list of millionaires in government service.  His family income was over 100 million rubles in 2009.  Finans places him as the 163rd richest Russian. 

But Argumenty nedeli makes the point Naginskiy didn’t exactly cover himself with glory while directing military housing acquisition.  An unnamed Defense Ministry official tells Argumenty:

“The state program to provide housing to all officers and retirees is 15-20 percent complete.  Billions have been absorbed, but more and more are needed.  Deputy Minister Naginskiy, who directed it [military housing] last year, during construction site visits by the president and prime minister vowed and swore that everything would be done on time.  Now instead of the planned 2011 when they promised to provide housing, the authorities are forced to talk about the end of 2013.”

Recall also that Naginskiy went without portfolio starting in mid-2010, and his colleague Deputy Minister Shevtsova found housing in her lap.

All the good journalistic coverage of the Spetsstroy story agrees on one, well two, things.  Getting rid of Abroskin was all about controlling an agency that was too independent and, more importantly, controlling its money.  As Kompromat concludes, it’s natural for Serdyukov to want his man to have his hands on these large “financial flows.”  Kompromat suggested Serdyukov may have also had his eye on selling some of Spetsstroy’s expensive Moscow real estate. 

But this isn’t all there is to the story . . .

  • Argumenty makes the point that Serdyukov has holes in his top management team.  Six months without a main finance officer has left the Defense Ministry behind on placing armaments contracts (again threatening a bad year for GOZ fulfillment).  And now Serdyukov’s lost First Deputy Defense Minister Popovkin to Roskosmos.  Popovkin’s replacement will be a huge story.  Even if Shevtsova has the housing issue, Serdyukov absolutely has to replace Chistova and Popovkin.  And Nezavisimaya gazeta suggests Serdyukov will soon appoint a new deputy primarily responsible for establishing aerospace defense (VKO).
  • Ruslan Pukhov tells Vedomosti the whole situation proves Serdyukov still has carte blanche from the country’s leadership, and NG claims Serdyukov’s political position has never been stronger.
  • Kommersant makes a point of saying that Abroskin doesn’t appear on the list of Russia’s richest bureaucrats, suggesting of course that this career serviceman might have amassed a fortune, but can’t report it because it was obtained through graft.  Perhaps the paper’s larger point is that appointing a wealthy executive from a private firm is the only chance for avoiding corruption in a high-level post.