Army General Makarov (photo: RIA Novosti / Aleksey Nikolskiy)
Still plumbing General Staff Chief Makarov’s Monday press-conference . . .
Makarov indicated Russia’s Israeli-made UAVs will be used in the Tsentr-2011 exercise. According to Krasnaya zvezda, he once again worked Vega over for wasting years and money without meeting the military’s requirements, forcing it to turn to Israel to obtain unmanned aircraft.
According to Interfaks, the General Staff Chief asserted Russia won’t buy anything but PGMs for its combat aircraft:
“The purchase of conventional [unguided] means has stopped. We are buying only highly-accurate means.”
“Western countries conduct military operations almost without ground forces. Aircraft operate outside the air defense zone and sustain minimal losses.”
Izvestiya noted, however, replacing Russia’s dumb bombs with smart weapons won’t be cheap. Tens of thousands of rubles versus millions. But one of the paper’s interlocutors concluded:
“The Defense Ministry believes there’s money for buying them, contracts for the first deliveries of new munitions have already been concluded.”
He estimates they will comprise perhaps half of Russia’s aviation weapons inventory by 2020.
Izvestiya quoted Ruslan Pukhov to the effect that guided ASMs made up only 1 percent of Russia’s stockpile in the five-day war with Georgia, and Russian aircraft had to brave Georgia’s air defenses on most missions, losing four Su-25, two Su-24, and a Tu-22M3. He added, however, that a Su-34 employed an anti-radar Kh-31P to destroy a radar in Gori.
Lenta.ru recalled General-Lieutenant Igor Sadofyev’s late 2010 comments about plans for a radical increase in PGMs and UAVs in the Air Forces by 2020. You can refresh your memory here.
Some military commentators and news outlets managed to tie together Makarov’s comments on Arab revolutions, Central Asian exercises, snipers, and sniper rifles in interesting, but not always accurate, ways.
KZ summarized Makarov pretty simply as saying the armed conflicts in Arab countries were difficult to predict, and similar events can’t be ruled out in Central Asia. In its replay of his remarks, he said:
“. . . we should be ready for everything, therefore we are working on this in the exercises.”
So, Moscow’s pretty obviously looking at the possible repetition of a Libyan or Syrian scenario somewhere in Central Asia . . . no surprise there . . . makes sense.
Komsomolskaya pravda said:
“Our military isn’t hiding the fact that current exercises are directly linked to the probable export of military aggression from Afghanistan into the Central Asian republics after NATO troops withdraw from there.”
It cites Makarov:
“[The exercises] envision developing variants for localizing armed conflicts on the territory of these countries.”
That doesn’t really sound Libyan or Syrian, does it? It’s not internal. It’s good old external spillover. Oh well, as long as it’s “localized” on someone else’s territory, and doesn’t cross Russia’s borders.
ITAR-TASS’s version of Makarov got people more spun up:
“The world situation is complex, quickly changing, particularly in North Africa and the Middle East. It was difficult to forecast what happened in a number of countries of this region, events developed with great speed. Now no one can say what will happen next. But this is a signal for all states. We military men need to be prepared for the worst scenarios.”
This led a few outlets to take the next step on their own, i.e. a repeat of the Arab scenario inside Russia.
You can read likely exaggerations of what Makarov really said in Gazeta.ru or Rbcdaily.ru. In its version, the latter claimed Makarov didn’t exclude internal unrest following the Arab example in Russia, and the army has to be ready for the worst case scenario of political developments inside the country.
Pouring gas on the fire it lit, Rbcdaily introduced the sniper issue here.
Of course, snipers are great for urban warfare or urban unrest. Rbcdaily’s Defense Ministry source says Makarov plans to put independent sniper platoons in every brigade. They’ll be armed with British rifles, of course. And the snipers themselves will have to be long-term professionals – contractees, so that’ll have to wait until the middle of next year.
Igor Korotchenko tells Rbcdaily:
“A sniper is a piece of work, he can’t be trained in a year, therefore they must absolutely be professional contractees. We can’t count on conscript soldiers here, like in the old days when there were enough gifted guys who learned to fire the SVD well among the conscripts.”
KZ didn’t mention Makarov talking about snipers.
Just to finish this off, Makarov’s Syrian comments weren’t construed or misconstrued as much. KZ said simply that he said Russia is not planning a military presence in Syria, nor the introduction of extra security measures at its material-technical support base in Tartus.
ITAR-TASS put it this way:
“This base remains in our hands. Besides it, our advisors work in Syria. That’s enough. We don’t intend to adopt any preventative measures. . . . we have to watch closely those forces opposing the government. There are legal demands, and there are opposition demands which, in our view, need to be ignored because they are illegal.”