Monthly Archives: June 2011

After the Pact

Twenty years after the Warsaw Pact, VTsIOM asked Russians what they think, looking back, about the former Soviet glacis in Eastern Europe.

The poll was done 18-19 June with 1,600 respondents in 138 populated areas of 46 RF subjects, and a margin of error not exceeding 3.4%.

First and foremost, two-thirds (66%) of those surveyed didn’t know or remember why the Warsaw Pact existed.

Asked which time period was most secure, calm, and stable internationally, 55% said the 1960s-1980s, 4% said the 1990s, the Yeltsin era, and only 28% said the present day.  Four years ago, the numbers were 47%, 5%, and 34% respectively.

According to VTsIOM, those groups most likely to think the Soviet era most secure are Communists, pensioners, the poorly-educated, and non-Internet users.  Those most likely to see today as more stable are United Russia members, young people, the well-educated, and Internet users.

Eighty-nine percent of respondents look back on the Pact as a defensive, peaceloving, and stabilizing force.  Only 6% say it was militaristic, or held Eastern European countries in an unfree condition.

Eighty percent think Russia lost more than it won when the Pact dissolved twenty years ago.  Ten years ago, 78 percent thought Russia lost more.

Finally, those surveyed were asked if Russia needs, or doesn’t need, to create an international military-political bloc like the Warsaw Pact or NATO.  Overall, 51% of respondents said it’s needed, 23% said it’s not, and 26% found it difficult to answer.  This question was broken out some along the political spectrum without many significant variations.

VTsIOM missed the chance to ask if respondents know Russia already has an international military-political alliance.  Their answers to a question about the Collective Security Treaty Organization would be fascinating, to be sure.

The answers to the questions that were asked are a little surprising and disturbing.  Some of them can be attributed simply to feckless nostalgia or the persistence of Cold War propaganda.  Some are due to a tendency to equate (or confuse) domestic or internal well-being with the country’s external security situation.  Finally, some may come from genuinely perceived threats and insecurities Russians feel today.

Soviet Fathers and Russian Sons

The story of Igor Sulim and the premium pay scandal is like the 19th century one about Russian society’s generation gap.  With liberals and nihilists reversed.

In Sulim’s story, the fathers are old senior and mid-grade officers who span Soviet and Russian worlds.  They have no problem taking whatever’s not nailed down.  The sons are post-Soviet junior officers, reared on the Internet, familiar with Western-style justice and rule-of-law, and ready to demand an end to corruption (that costs them money).

Perhaps your author reads too much into this.  Or just maybe there’s some truth in this description.  Let’s review some new details first.

The investigation into Senior Lieutenant Sulim’s accusations is a very slow roll.  Rolling the victims.  Here’s an update on the action (or inaction?).

Sulim posted his first video on May 31. wrote about it.

Sulim explained why he felt he had to complain to Defense Minister Serdyukov and go public about corruption in his unit despite the military’s “corporate ethic” against it.  He said he exhausted other avenues and had no other resource at his disposal.  He didn’t intend to be a one-man campaign against corruption but he’s getting support, and hearing similar stories, from others.  And he thanks his fellow officers supporting him despite the difficulties and pressure they face.

He concludes speaking out is his civic duty.  Russians should unite around one idea and struggle together so Russia doesn’t lose its greatness and remains a great power.  And so the next generation doesn’t hate the current one for being silent and patient, believing nothing will ever change.  It’s not revolution or spilled blood he wants, but the path of civilized development.

On June 2, Moskovskiye novosti wrote that Sulim predicted a disciplinary reprimand and deprivation of his premium pay would come his way for going over his superior officers (and, in fact, both came pretty quickly).  The “army Navalnyy” and other officers are being pressured in every way by the authorities, and the entire Lipetsk center’s been deprived of premium pay to turn other officers against Sulim.  He was removed from flight status.  Public Chamber member Anatoliy Kucherena reported over half of 150 personnel he met said they were aware of the corrupt pay scheme at the base.

On June 3, Nezavisimoye voyennoye obozreniye addressed the basic flaw in Serdyukov’s Order 400 and premium pay:

“Here is the misfortune — the essentially socialist army was not ready for these market relations.  Indoctrinated on the principle that everyone in the line is equal before the commander and in battle, before life and death, everyone to an equal degree responsible for his country and its security, officers became accustomed to distinguishing one from another only by stars on the shoulderboards and by position, where the difference in pay between lieutenant and colonel, a general even, was minimal:  a couple — four thousand rubles.  And here suddenly it became colossal — several times.  And, of course, when not everyone started receiving such premiums for the very same service-work, but just those chosen by still incomprehensible principles, a Bolshevist idea immediately arose — take it and divide it up.”

“But it was impossible not to understand to what the revolutionary introduction of market relations and big money for different categories of  servicemen could lead.  But has pay become a schism in combat units?  There’s no unambiguous answer.”

“What’s the result?  To what is the Senior Lieutenant Sulim phenomenon leading?  Most likely just to changes in the various fates of various officers and various military units.  But over some kind of time everything will remain as before.  If Orders No. 400, 400A and 155 aren’t be suspended and changed.  If from 1 January next year, the difference in pay and premiums for the very same service-work aren’t so monstrously striking.  It’s not worth destroying the monolithic army line with the almighty ruble.  This could bring serious consequences in a real battle.”

Sulim gave Ogonek an interview.  Sulim said his father was not happy about him going public, but Sulim stressed it was his own personal decision.  General-Major Sulim’s being pressed to keep his son’s mouth shut.

Ogonek asked Sulim if he isn’t afraid of sharing MVD Major Dymovskiy’s fate:

“His colleagues, as I understand it, didn’t support Dymovskiy.  There are more and more of us now.  If I had been alone, perhaps, I would have repeated his fate.  But my colleagues are supporting me so, everyone is ready to go only forward.”

By mid-June, Sulim’s antagonists — Colonels Kovalskiy and Sidorenko — were both relieved of duty, but his supporters — Majors Kubarev and Smirnov — had been hauled before an Air Forces attestation commission in Moscow, called cowards for not refusing to pay kickbacks, and all but told they would be transferred from their elite Lipetsk duty, according to Komsomolskaya pravda.  The paper points out Kubarev is a Su-34 pilot qualified for aerial refueling, and Smirnov was regiment’s top pilot last year.

In Moskovskiy komsomolets, Olga Bozhyeva wrote that Sulim’s reprimand was for violating the law’s prohibition on “discussing and criticizing the orders of a commander.”  The authorities apparently didn’t go after him for revealing some of the stupid things said and written by Deputy VVS CINC General-Major Viktor Bondarev.  Instead, they focused on his criticism of the Defense Ministry’s anticorruption orders posted on his blog.  For its part, MK posted new audio clips indicating that the even the local FSB is in on getting kickbacks at Lipetsk, and this didn’t happen just in the 3rd Squadron, but all over the center.  Bozhyeva asks, if this happens in an elite formation like Lipetsk, what happens in less prestigious units?

Senior Lieutenant Igor Sulim

There is lots on Sulim’s blog.  Most recently, he wrote about meeting with VVS Deputy CINC, General-Lieutenant Sadofyev, who asked him why he had to “create a scandal.”  Of course, Sulim’s made the point many times that he tried to go through the chain, through channels, and to do it without blood, and quietly.  But Sadofyev and the older generation really don’t get it. 

The new Russian generation of sons might make even congenitally pessimistic observers of Russia a little hopeful.  The authorities could be playing an ultimately futile game of whack a mole with an entire generation of  Dymovskiys and Matveyevs and Sulims.

Life in the Disbat

Komsomolskaya pravda’s Viktor Sokirko had an interesting article today about life in a disbat — a disciplinary battalion.  It features a rather idyllic video showing some of the inmate-soldiers’ daily activities.

Sokirko says only two disbats remain, and he was invited inside one to see a “prison in shoulderboards.”  The 28th Independent Disciplinary Battalion looks like other units with barracks, parade grounds, etc.  But it also has barbed wire, guard dogs, and a security company.

The acting commander says he has 162 men under guard, although he could accommodate 800.

Most are inside for “nonregulation relations” or dedovshchina.  There’s also theft, extortion, AWOL, and less often, desertion.

One Russian conscript from Abkhazia is serving 6 months for refusing to scrub the barrack floor.  He adopted the “law of the mountains,” and refused to do “women’s work.”  Another, a sergeant, got two years for rupturing the spleen of a soldier who cursed him for sending him to clean the latrine.

The acting commander says his charges aren’t beaten or thrown into pits, but simply forced to march in formation and live strictly according to regulations (including learning every line).  And there’s cleaning the barracks.

If they don’t toe the line, there’s the guardhouse, and no one wants to go there, so even the proud and independent Caucasians follow orders.  More than half the inmates — 96 — are North Caucasians.  The article claims only 2 percent of the Russian Army is drafted there, but half the men in the disbat are Caucasians.

The commander says there’s no special treatment in the disbat:

“Here everyone scrubs the toilets, and eats lard.  The friendship of peoples in miniature.”

Inmates don’t get a permanent record from time in the disbat, and the command claims only 5 percent of its former inmates become criminals subsequently.

Interestingly, Rossiyskaya gazeta wrote about the disbat in 2009.  It said there were still 5 disbats with about 1,200 inmates in all.  It noted, while they don’t get a record, their disbat time doesn’t count, and they still have to complete their conscription term.  RG said 40 percent were serving time for AWOL, about the same for dedovshchina, and the rest for other crimes.

Sergey Ivanov had proposed the guardhouse as a replacement for the disbat.  Disciplinary cases would go to the guardhouse, and any soldier committing a crime not covered in the regs would be handled in civil court and prisons.  But Anatoliy Serdyukov didn’t support the plan to build and rebuild guardhouses.  Of course, he also claimed the disbat provided a better chance to get a guy back on track.

Demobbing the Central Apparatus

Over the weekend, Moskovskiy komsomolets reported the next wave of reform will civilianize the entire central apparatus of the Defense Ministry.  Civilian administrators will replace uniformed officers everywhere except the Genshtab and “combat support structures.”  Special commissions will select civilians on a competitive basis. 

MK’s Defense Ministry sources claim this phase of reform will be completed by December.  The Main Legal Directorate will civilianize in August-September.  The Press-Service and Information Directorate will be reformed from 1 August.  The Personnel Inspectorate will civilianize also, according to MK’s report.

Needless to say, generals think it strange to let civilians decide the fate of their careers.  But an MK source argued:

“And who prevents them from working just the same, but in civilian attire?  For them, in principle, just like for prosecutors, it’s no different – in shoulderboards or without them, only the knowledge of directive documents and legislative acts is important.”

For counterpoint, MK turned to Leonid Ivashov:

“It’s obvious today that a transition to civilian duties is taking place in the military department.  The second tendency is the domination of women in the new structures.  They head finance, the legal directorate, the apartment-management service, a nice girl headed the directorate for international military cooperation for a time.  Ms. Shevtsova became deputy minister, in charge of construction, a woman – a specialist in taxes and alcohol production heads the military education department . . . .  Don’t think that I’m badly disposed toward women, I like them very much.  I wouldn’t, for example, be irritated if Natalya Narochnitskaya [a well-known scholar, social-political figure, doctor of historical sciences — Ed.) became Defense Minister.  She’s an intelligent analyst, who has tact, and, I think, could bring a lot of useful and healthy things into army structures.  But if managers from business go there and gather such people around them, then the army will turn into some kind of commercial organization.  When they say we are copying the American or other democratic model of an army where the Defense Minister and his department are civilians, this is not true.  Yes, we have a civilian minister.  But I don’t see in a single serious government that people from commercial life come to this post.  They are always politicians, representing some party which controls or consults with them.  But to simply to throw any guy into the military department so – and do what you want, there isn’t anything similar in a single government.”

Ivashov makes the observation that civilianization, and feminization, of the Defense Ministry’s been going on for a while now.  But he spins off into a diatribe against ex-businessman Serdyukov.  It’s not really Serdyukov’s fault there’s no democratic party system to produce politicians who could lead the Defense Ministry.  And one could argue the Defense Ministry was a corrupt commercial organization well back when Ivashov was there, but men in uniforms were the ones making the illicit deals then.  But we digress . . .

Recall at the outset of Serdyukov’s reforms in fall 2008, he indicated he intended to cut the Defense Ministry’s 10,523-strong central apparatus and roughly 11,000 military personnel in command and control organs down to no more than 8,500 in all.  So perhaps now we’re looking at about 4,000 personnel, civilians that is, in the Defense Ministry’s central apparatus.

Dropping officers in favor of civilians in the Defense Ministry might buttress Dmitriy Litovkin’s report last week about a deeper cut in military manpower.

Arsenal Explosion Blows Up a Couple Careers

Friday published Defense Minister Serdyukov’s list of those responsible for the June 2 fire and explosion at the 102nd Artillery Munitions Arsenal.

Not surprisingly, small fish got dismissed while large ones got off with reprimands.

The text of Serdyukov’s report to President Medvedev concludes:

“The basic causes of what happened were nonobservance of the requirements of explosives and fire safety while working with munitions, a negligent attitude by the Central Military District directorate and the command of the 102nd arsenal toward fulfilling their immediate duties in organizing and supporting daily functions, but also not fulfilling the requirements of Russian Federation Government order No. 135 from 17 February 2000 regarding the establishment and designation of prohibited zones and areas.”

Those dismissed for failures before or during the disaster:

  • General-Major S. V. Khokh, Chief, Technical Support Directorate, Central MD.
  • Colonel L. V. Chumakov, Chief, Material-Technical Support Planning and Coordination Directorate, Central MD.

Those getting reprimands:

  • Deputy Defense Minister, Army General D. V. Bulgakov.
  • Commander, Central MD, General-Colonel V. V. Chirkin.

Those receiving severe reprimands:

  • Acting Chief of Staff, Central Military District, General-Major S. A. Chuvakin.
  • Chief, Main Missile-Artillery Directorate, RF Ministry of Defense, General-Major A. L. Romanovskiy.
  • Chief, Material-Technical Support Planning and Coordination Department, RF Ministry of Defense, General-Lieutenant S. A. Zhirov.  

Warned about incomplete duty fulfillment:

  • Deputy Commander of the Central Military District for Material-Technical Support, General-Major Yu. A. Svintsov.

Dismissed early for nonfulfillment of contract terms:

  • Acting Chief, Missile-Artillery Armaments Service, Central Military District, Colonel A. N. Kozlov.
  • Section Chief (base, arsenal, and depot administration and security), Material-Technical Support Planning and Coordination Directorate, Central Military District, Colonel Kh. Kh. Beglov.
  • Chief, 102nd Arsenal (artillery munitions, 1st rank), Central Military District, Colonel Yu. I. Banin.

More Cadre Changes

President Medvedev issued another decree yesterday (can’t manage to get caught up).  This one had two major changes — General-Major Popov promoted to head all air defense for VVS, and Vice-Admiral Korolev goes to head the Northern Fleet.


  • Colonel Andrey Yevgenyevich Kondrashov, Deputy Commander, 2nd Air Forces and Air Defense Command, relieved as Commander, 12th Aerospace Defense (VKO) Brigade.
  • General-Major Dmitriy Viktorovich Gomenkov, Commander, 12th Aerospace Defense (VKO) Brigade.
  • General-Major Sergey Vladimirovich Popov, Chief, Air Defense, Deputy CINC for Air Defense, Air Forces, relieved as Chief, Surface-to-Air Missile Troops, Air Forces.
  • General-Major Viktor Vasilyevich Gumennyy, Chief, Surface-to-Air Missile Troops, Air Forces, relieved as Chief, Radiotechnical (Radar) Troops, Air Forces.
  • Vice-Admiral Vladimir Ivanovich Korolev, Commander, Northern Fleet, relieved as Commander, Black Sea Fleet.
  • General-Major Igor Yuryevich Makushev, Commander, 1st Air Forces and Air Defense Command, relieved of duty as Chief of Staff, First Deputy Commander, 4th Air Forces and Air Defense Command.
  • Colonel Mikhail Aleksandrovich Smolkin, Chief, Radiotechnical (Radar) Troops, Air Forces.
  • Rear-Admiral Aleksandr Nikolayevich Fedotenkov, Commander, Black Sea Fleet, relieved as Commander, Leningrad Naval Base, Baltic Fleet.


  • Colonel Sergey Vasilyevich Grinchenko, Deputy Chief, Federal Directorate for the Safe Storage and Destruction of Chemical Weapons, RF Ministry of Industry and Trade.
  • Captain 1st Rank Yevgeniy Ivanovich Irza, Commander, 2nd ASW Ships Division, Northern Fleet.

Bulava Launch Window

An OPK source told RIA Novosti yesterday a state commission on experimental flight testing has identified June 28-30 as the window for this year’s first Bulava SLBM test.  The commission will select a precise date within the next two days.  The source says Borey-class SSBN Yuriy Dolgorukiy will be the platform for the launch.

Cadre Changes in the Armed Forces

Three more decrees from President Medvedev, published yesterday (there’s still one more ukaz from early this year your author hasn’t covered).


  • Colonel Valeriy Grigoryevich Asapov, Commander, 37th Independent Motorized Rifle Brigade.
  • Colonel Andrey Anatolyevich Burbin, Commander, 7th Missile Division.
  • General-Major Aleksey Vladimirovich Zavizon, Commander, 136th Independent Motorized Rifle Brigade.
  • Colonel Dmitriy Leonidovich Kostyunin, Commander, 6950th Aviation Base (1st Rank).
  • Captain 1st Rank Aleksandr Alekeyevich Moiseyev, Deputy Commander, Submarine Forces.
  • Rear-Admiral Sergey Grigoryevich Rekish, Chief, Organization-Mobilization Directorate, Deputy Chief of Staff for Organization-Mobilization Work, Pacific Fleet.
  • Captain 1st Rank, Arkadiy Yuryevich Romanov, Chief, Organization-Mobilization Directorate, Deputy Chief of Staff for Organization-Mobilization Work, Northern Fleet.
  • Colonel Oleg Mussovich Tsekov, Commander, 200th Independent Motorized Rifle Brigade.


  • General-Major Vladimir Vladimirovich Samoylov, Deputy Commander, 49th Army.

* * *


  • Colonel Valeriy Mikhaylovich Zhila, Commander, 37th Independent Motorized Rifle Brigade.
  • Colonel Pavel Valentinovich Kirsi, Commander, 18th Machine Gun-Artillery Division.

Relieve and dismiss from military service:

  • Rear-Admiral Yuriy Vladimirovich Baylo, Chief of Rear Services, Deputy Commander for Rear Services, Pacific Fleet.


  • Colonel Stepan Aleksandrovich Vorontsov, Chief, Rear Support Directorate, Western MD.
  • General-Major Aleksandr Valentinovich Golovko, Chief, 1st State Testing Cosmodrome, relieved as Chief, 153rd Main Test Center and Space Systems Directorate.
  • Colonel Dmitriy Vladimirovich Krayev, Commander, 18th Machine Gun-Artillery Division.
  • General-Major Oleg Vladimirovich Maydanovich, Chief, 153rd Main Test Center and Space Systems Directorate, relieved as Chief, 1st State Test Cosmodrome.

 Dismiss from military service:

  • General-Major Sergey Petrovich Degtyarev.
  • General-Major Vladimir Ivanovich Perekrestov.

* * *


  • General-Major Sergey Vasilyevich Varfolomeyev, Chief of Staff, First Deputy Commander, 4th Air Forces and Air Defense Command, relieved as Deputy Commander, 1st Air Forces and Air Defense Command.
  • General-Major Igor Mikhaylovich Nerestyuk, Deputy Commander, 1st Air Forces and Air Defense Command, relieved as Commander, 6983rd Guards Aviation Base (1st Rank).
  • Colonel Aleksandr Vasilyevich Duplinskiy, Commander, 6983rd Guards Aviation Base (1st Rank).
  • Colonel Vladimir Viktorovich Kvashin, Commander, 62nd Missile Division.

Relieve and dismiss from military service:

  • Rear-Admiral Aleksey Borisovich Tuzov, Deputy Chief, Navy Training-Scientific Center “Fleet Admiral of the Soviet Union N. G. Kuznetsov Naval Academy.”

Dismiss from military service:

  • General-Major Igor Mikhaylovich Kharchenko.

Below One Million?

Dropping Russia’s military manpower level below one million?  Talk about a watershed.  This might be spurious information, but coming from Dmitriy Litovkin, the report has to be taken seriously.  In fine Russian tradition, it could be a trial balloon to elicit public and elite reactions.

In yesterday’s Izvestiya, Litovkin reported that, over the course of two years, the Russian Army will become smaller by 150,000 men, according to a Defense Ministry source.

The impetus for this is the Finance Ministry’s.  Aleksey Kudrin’s been ordered to fight the budget deficit, and he’s got defense and security spending in his sights. 

The source says concrete proposals to cut military expenditures were prepared for a special government conference in early June.  As a result, the government adopted an “additional reduction” of 150,000 servicemen.  This would reportedly save 10 billion rubles in 2010 [sic], and almost 50 billion rubles in 2014.  The article says military staffs have already been cut 40 percent as a result of army reform. 

Litovkin notes Defense Minister Serdyukov has previously called one million the “optimal” manning figure — ostensibly 150,000 officers, 100,000-120,000 contract sergeants, and conscripts for the balance.

But it wasn’t so long ago that the Defense Ministry declared the need for an increase of 70,000 officers, and raising the number of contract NCOs and soldiers to 480,000.  It’s not clear how these new cuts are supposed to jibe with increases proposed earlier this year.  The Supreme CINC [together with his tandem partner] will have to decide.

Litovkin enumerates Defense Minister Serdyukov’s competing costly initiatives — higher officer pay, outsourcing nonmilitary tasks, etc.  According to this, outsourcing alone has already brought 380,000 [!?] civilians into military support positions and this number is supposed to increase.  Litovkin doesn’t close the loop on this, but he seems to imply the high cost of these efforts requires cuts in manpower.

This is all exciting and interesting and occasions a couple thoughts.

One.  The new “optimal” number for the Armed Forces must be 850,000.  Liberal Russian politicians, military analysts, and observers have long argued for this, or an even more radical cut.  But one million has had mystical power.  Russian conservatives will vociferously object that the country’s borders are too extensive to be defended by a single man short of one million, as if even one [or for that matter two] million could do it, or as if sheer manpower’s the best way to parry modern military threats.

Two.  Though not mentioned by Litovkin, isn’t it possible Moscow’s decided to make a virtue of necessity and recognize that demographic and draft problems have left them well short of a fully-manned force of one million anyway?  This could be a small step in the direction of becoming (or at least looking) more like just another European army.

Three.  The inevitable downsides.  Keeping more officers had been intended to deal with the outplacement cost (apartments) and other negative fallout of cutting the officer corps in half, not to mention simply having more officers around to deal with unruly nonprofessional soldiers in the ranks.  And another round of personnel reductions is likely to delay any resumed movement toward a long-term professional enlisted force.

Just the latest fro in the game of Russian defense policy to-and-fro.

No Funding for Domestic UAVs

Israeli Searcher Mk.2

RIA Novosti reports a highly-placed OPK representative says development of Russian UAVs hasn’t been financed for two years.  According to him, this is connected with the drawn-out work of Defense Ministry experts considering Israeli drones purchased two years ago.  The source continues:

“It’s obvious Russia’s Defense Ministry can’t figure out its future actions:  either continue to buy UAVs abroad, or finance our own development.”

It seems pretty clear to this author it’s the former, especially considering the following figures.

TsAMTO gave the news agency a rundown on Russia’s 2009 contract for Israeli UAVS:  two Bird Eye-400 ($4 million), eight I-View Mk150 ($37 million), and two Searcher Mk.2 ($12 million).  TsAMTO also says a $100 million contract for 36 unspecified UAVs was signed later.

RIA Novosti also notes, this March, the Defense-Industrial Corporation (Oboronprom) agreed on a $400 million contract with IAI to assemble Israeli UAVs in Russia.  Oboronprom’s Helicopters of Russia sub-unit is responsible for the Russian side of this joint venture.  At the time, Russian experts argued that comparable domestic UAVs were several times cheaper.  But Russian designers also acknowledged lagging in some technologies, particularly optical-infrared sensors and data transmission.

More than a year ago, then-Armaments Chief Vladimir Popovkin said 5 billion rubles had been spent on domestic UAV development without result.  Then months of comparing foreign and domestic models followed.  And now the money trail makes it pretty obvious the Defense Ministry (and big OPK players themselves) are intent on buying abroad.  Small Russian UAV makers are the short-run losers. 

This seems a smart choice for now.  It will be some time before  Russia successfully integrates foreign-designed UAVs into its military operations.  There doesn’t seem a compelling reason to aim for self-sufficiency in something that’s still a niche mission. 

What will happen depends on how Moscow handles its domestic developers.  Will they be able to apply foreign UAVs to their own work and make competitive models of their own?  Falling behind on pilotless technology is not exactly a negligible risk in the coming unmanned age.