On 10 September, Kremlin.ru posted President Putin’s opening remarks to a session on developing the draft State Program of Armaments (GPV) 2016-2025.
Putin’s speech can be divided into several themes: financing, the arms race, threats, particular weapons systems, and other tidbits.
A critical question is how will funding for a new GPV compare with the approximately 20 trillion rubles laid out or earmarked for GPV 2011-2020. But Putin took pains to stress only that financing for the new GPV will be based on the government’s macroeconomic forecasts. He noted:
“The government has prepared two variants [not good and possibly worse?] of such a preliminary macroeconomic development forecast, and today, we will hear about it in a meeting with the government, and talk more about this. We will proceed exclusively from realities, from our possibilities, and we will not inflate our military expenditures.”
“I ask you to choose and present the most balanced variant of resource support for the new state program of armaments before the end of October 2014. It must fully account for missions in the area of military organizational development and still be realistic, and proceed, as I already said, from the country’s financial-economic possibilities. But I am sure we can find a variant acceptable both according to financial support and to the quality of those weapons systems which we will discuss more today.”
This seems consonant with his statement last December that the OPK and military should not expect future procurement budgets to match what was laid out in recent years.
In this September 10 session, Putin eschewed interest in a new arms race, but stressed that Moscow has no choice but to take “countermeasures” against U.S. and NATO threats. A few examples:
“[modernizing the armed forces and defense industry] is not connected to any kind of arms race . . . .”
“And we already many times said and warned that we will be forced — exactly forced — to take adequate countermeasures to guarantee our security.”
“We have spoken many times, and very much hope that there will not be excessive hysteria [from the U.S. and NATO?] when these decisions [about the GPV?] are finally made and begin to be realized. I want to note that everything we are doing are only countermeasures.”
“Sometimes the impression is created, I just talked about this, that someone wants to launch a new arms race. We will not, of course, be dragged into this race, it is simply absolutely excluded . . . .”
The Russian president also laid out at length his view of the threats requiring countermeasures:
- U.S. missile defense;
- U.S. Prompt Global Strike;
- Militarization of space [?];
- Conventional strategic weapons;
- Prospective build-up of NATO forces in Eastern Europe.
He restated the official Kremlin narrative explaining why that alleged NATO build-up will happen:
“The crisis in Ukraine, which was actually provoked and created by some of our Western partners, is now being used to reanimate this military bloc.”
A regime that wants to prevent a Maydan on Red Square pretty much has to declare that the revolutionary impetus came from outside. It also has to overlook that it was the seizure of Crimea and the start of Moscow’s war in eastern Ukraine that awakened NATO.
Look for a more detailed exposition of Moscow’s new threat assessment when the updated Military Doctrine appears in December.
What did Putin say about what will be purchased under the new GPV? In short, not too much new:
“. . . our fundamental systems: both of a defensive nature and strike systems have simply already reached or are reaching the end of their service lives. And if we need to replace them, then replace them, of course, with prospective, modern ones having a future of long use.”
“I note that for the draft GPV-2025 there is already a unified system of preliminary data which confirmed the basic directions of arms and equipment development for the period to 2030 and formed a list of types determining the future profile of weapons systems.”
“Most of all we are talking about the creation of a rational list of strike means, including the guaranteed resolution of nuclear deterrence missions, about rearming strategic and long-range aviation, and continuing formation of an aerospace defense [VKO] system.”
“Further. In coming years, it is already essential to support the breakthrough development of all components of precision weapons, to create unified types of general purpose arms and equipment, and for the Navy — new ship projects, standardized in armament, command and control systems, and communications.”
Overall, continuing the course and priorities — such as they are — of the current GPV.
Now, the tidbits . . . .
Putin seemed to say the 2015 goal of more than 30 percent modern arms and equipment has already been reached.
According to the president, more than 3,600 items of “fundamental weapons” (68% of the contracted quantity) have already reached the troops this year, along with 241,000 other items [presumably procurement not part of a major weapons system].
Putin gave only the briefest acknowledgement that, with looming sanctions, defense industry must be ready to manufacture its own critically important equipment, components, and materials. Industry, he said, should also be looking to produce important civilian machinery in the future.
He only slightly criticized work on past GPVs, saying:
“It goes without saying we must carefully analyze the experience of realizing the previous programs, including the problems and oversights which led to delays in placing and fulfilling orders, and at times even to tasks not being completed.”
However, Putin also took the chairmanship of the Military-Industrial Commission (VPK) on himself, indicating that he thinks the GPV could use some “manual control.”
That’s about 950 words describing what Putin said in roughly 1,200. One hopes his speech has been deconstructed and reconstructed in such a way that it illuminates more than the original.