Tag Archives: Vladimir Putin

Star Shower

Russian has an untranslatable word, звездопад, invariably used in announcing high-level military promotions.  It might be best translated as meteor shower.  But when it comes to generals, admirals, and O-6s adding metal to their shoulderboards, star shower sounds better.

Late Thursday, President Putin provided a star shower via ukaz, and here are the results:

  • RVSN Commander Sergey Viktorovich Karakayev and VVKO Commander Oleg Nikolayevich Ostapenko become General-Colonel (three stars).
  • New Navy CINC Viktor Viktorovich Chirkov becomes Admiral (three stars).
  • New Air Forces CINC Viktor Nikolayevich Bondarev becomes General-Lieutenant (two stars).

Looks like maybe the new high command team is locked into place for some time to come.

The other promotions:

  • Commander of the 9th VKO Brigade Vladimir Aleksandrovich Korytkov and Chief of PVO Troops and Aviation for the Central MD Yevgeniy Nikolayevich Tuchkov become General-Major (one star).
  • A Northern Fleet division commander Vladimir Mikhaylovich Vorobyev, Chief of Staff of the Northern Fleet’s Kola Mixed Forces Flotilla Vadim Franstevich Kulit, and White Sea Naval Base Commander Viktor Nikolayevich Liina become Rear-Admiral (one star).

Power Couple

Putin Congratulates Knyazeva

No, not newly-minted General-Major Yelena Knyazeva and President Putin.  The couple is Knyazeva and her husband, Deputy Chairman of the Moscow City Duma, Andrey Metelskiy.

It’s not surprising Kremlin.ru published this picture of the Supreme Glavk shaking Knyazeva’s hand instead of some run-of-the-mill male general’s.

When Putin elevated the fiftyish Knyazeva to one-star rank last month, the Russian press noted his decree gave the Armed Forces a female general for the first time in a number of years.

The last one was the world’s first woman in space, Valentina Tereshkova, who reached general-major in the 1990s.  Media reports added that several women currently hold general officer ranks in the MVD and other uniformed federal services.

This year the Russian Armed Forces indicated having 3,000 female officers in the ranks, a 50 percent increase over 2011.  There were 28 (now 27, of course) women colonels.  There were only 12 female O-6s in 2011, according to RIA Novosti.

Yelena Georgiyevna is Deputy Chief of the Defense Ministry’s Main Directorate for International Military Cooperation.  Before that, she headed the English Department at Moscow’s Military University.  That university now encompasses the Military Institute of Foreign Languages (VIIYa) where she graduated and taught for many years.

She became chief of VIIYa’s English faculty in 1995.  Her participation in international projects during the heyday of Russia-NATO cooperation provided a logical segue to her current duties.  But her timing was fortuitous too.

Under Serdyukov, women emerged in various top Defense Ministry posts, although Knyazeva’s case was somewhat different because she rose inside the military department.

At VIIYa, Knyazeva met her future husband, Andrey Metelskiy, according to Krasnaya zvezda.  Some eight or nine years her junior, Metelskiy studied Farsi and French at the military institute.

Andrey Metelskiy (photo: Volgorad.er.ru)

Metelskiy’s an interesting figure.  In a Bratishka.ru interview, he indicates he was an 18-year-old lieutenant (!?) serving in Afghanistan when he was wounded in 1986.

After finishing VIIYa and leaving the army, Metelskiy was a businessman with a somewhat confusing political biography.  One observer claims he was a Derzhava supporter who only emerged in the youth section of Unity in early 2000.

But Metelskiy’s mainline biography says he was a deputy chairman of the Moscow city branch of Unity before the December 1999 State Duma elections.  He went on to be first deputy of the Moscow regional branch of Unity’s successor, United Russia.

Metelskiy was elected to the Moscow City Duma in 2001, and is currently in his third term.  He has been a Duma Deputy Chairman since 2004, and heads the United Russia faction which holds an overwhelming 32 of 35 seats in the municipal legislature.  Metelskiy represents the Izmaylovo area in northeastern Moscow.

The observer above recounts a legal dustup in late 2005 between Metelskiy and Rodina’s Dmitriy Rogozin who accused him of sporting military awards he didn’t earn.  But Metelskiy won a defamation case against today’s deputy prime minister for the OPK.

On Medvedevu.ru, a man tells his version of a 2009 car accident with Knyazeva, Metelskiy, and their Lexus.  According to him, Metelskiy denied causing the crash, threatened him, and advised him to forget the whole incident.  Nor did the victim get satisfaction after wending his way through the court system for a couple years.

Knyazeva and Metelskiy are an interesting and well-connected Moscow power couple.  Putin was probably just renewing his acquaintance with Knyazeva since it’s more than likely they’d already met given her husband’s position.

Defense Policy Reset?

RF President Vladimir Putin last week held the first meeting of his third term to discuss military priorities with senior uniformed officers.

President Putin

He looked less impressive, and less in command of his brief in the video of his introductory remarks than on similar past occasions.

But he clearly laid out his main concerns for Russia’s top Armed Forces leaders:  training, Aerospace Defense Troops, rearmament, contract manning, pay, and housing.

He seemed confounded by the Defense Ministry’s failure to pay new, higher military salaries on time, and by the continuing lag in providing housing to servicemen.  He said his Control Directorate is investigating both situations.

Taking it from the top, Putin said the state of military training and exercises today is completely changed from past years when the Armed Forces were rarely active.  The president twice emphasized conducting joint exercises with Russia’s allies in the CSTO, CIS, and SCO.

His second priority is developing the newly created and reformed Aerospace Defense Troops.

His third is rearmament.  He repeated the familiar goal of replacing 30 percent of weapons and equipment with new generation systems over the next three years (2015), and 70, or in some cases 100, percent five years after that (2020).  And he added:

“I ask you to report promptly about all instances of breakdowns or incomplete deliveries, if you identify them.  Everyone participating in Gosoboronzakaz work must bear personal responsibility.”

The fourth priority is manning, and the earlier announced effort to increase professional soldiers in the ranks to 425,000.  This, he says, would increase their numbers two and a half times, reportedly from 170,000 today.  Putin made the customary comments about carefully screening and selecting enlisted troops, and giving them incentives to serve well.

Fifth and finally, Putin emphasized efforts to provide better social support for servicemen, specifically, this year’s increase raising military pay by up to three times, and his attempt to provide all military men permanent housing in 2013 and service housing by 2014.  He said:

“Sufficient resources have been allocated for this, the necessary amount has been reserved.”

“But I have to note that, to this point, there are many problems in the provision of housing and calculation of pay, unacceptable breakdowns and procrastination, open professional negligence by officials.  And even if on paper and in reports everything is normal, in fact in real life servicemen and their families at times encounter various kinds of bureaucratic procrastination, often with a formalistic indifferent approach.”

“I’ve directed the Russian Federation President’s Control Directorate to conduct a corresponding check in all these areas.  Unacceptable facts are being encountered, already in the first stages of this check this is clear:  this is both delays in the transmission of pay, and the impossibility of normally finalizing the paperwork for an apartment.  Fitting conclusions will be drawn according to the results of the check, and instructions will be formulated.  But today already I’m asking Defense Ministry representatives to report what measures are being adopted to correct the situation.  May is ending, and normal work with pay still hasn’t been smoothed out.  We already talked about these issues more than once.”

Where are outside observers left?

  • Training and exercises have increased as a function of more budget and fuel, but this didn’t happen until the late 2000s.
  • Aerospace Defense Troops are another structural reorganization, potentially a good one, not unlike other reorganizations since the 1990s.
  • Rearmament is a serious downfall.  Despite the Putin factor, nothing really happened on this score until late 2009.  It’s complicated by the difficulties of fixing a dilapidated OPK.  And, although there may be some favorable signs, success here remains to be seen.
  • Contract service is a second serious downfall.  Putin’s first effort to professionalize the army started in 2002.  The General Staff Chief declared it a dismal failure eight years later.  The Defense Minister revived it on an enlarged scale one year after that.  Demographic reality and draft problems leave Moscow no other choice.
  • Low military pay is a downfall.  It became more of a realistic priority with Serdyukov’s arrival in the Defense Ministry, but it was still five long years before the new, higher pay system was implemented.  And Putin admits how poorly it’s functioning.
  • Housing is also a downfall.  Despite progress since Putin first really addressed the issue in 2005, it’s still problematic.  And the president publicly moved back his timetable for a solution.

The downfall areas are problems requiring a long-term, sustained commitment to resolve.  Putin 2.0 is wrestling with the same military issues he identified back in 2000.  It’s still far from certain he can or will bring them to a successful conclusion.

This author believes there’s been progress on Russia’s military issues during the 12 years of Putin’s time as national leader.  But future economic or political challenges could derail progress toward rebuilding the country as a full-scope military power.

Is Putin resetting or rebooting defense policy?  Yes, at least jumpstarting it on key issues.  But a restarted or jumpstarted computer, car, or policy usually works (or doesn’t work) the same way it did before it stalled.  So this isn’t necessarily the path to a successful finish.  But no one ever said making and implementing policy was easy.

Face Recce

Last Wednesday afternoon, President Putin put his Supreme Glavk hat back on and met for a bit with uniformed military leaders on Armed Forces development, manning, training, and social support issues.

The nine-minute video of Putin’s introductory remarks provides a chance to catch up on the players.  There are, of course, many changes of late.

This photo lets us survey everyone (even if only the top of a head or partial face in some cases).

The Full Table

From the left, to Putin in the center, to the extreme right:

  • Rear-Admiral Sergey Alekminskiy, Caspian Flotilla Commander.
  • Rear-Admiral Aleksandr Fedotenkov, Black Sea Fleet Commander.
  • Rear-Admiral Sergey Avakyants, Pacific Fleet Commander.
  • General-Colonel Valeriy Gerasimov, Central Military District Commander.
  • General-Colonel Arkadiy Bakhin, Western Military District Commander.
  • General-Lieutenant Vladimir Shamanov, Airborne Troops (VDV) Commander.
  • Vice-Admiral Viktor Chirkov, Navy Commander-in-Chief.
  • General-Colonel Vladimir Chirkin, Ground Troops Commander-in-Chief.
  • Anatoliy Serdyukov, RF Defense Minister.
  • Vladimir Putin, RF President and Supreme Commander-in-Chief.
  • Army General Nikolay Makarov, General Staff Chief.
  • General-Major Viktor Bondarev, Air Forces Commander-in-Chief.
  • General-Lieutenant Sergey Karakayev, Strategic Missile Troops (RVSN) Commander.
  • General-Lieutenant Oleg Ostapenko, Aerospace Defense Troops Commander.
  • General-Colonel Aleksandr Galkin, Southern Military District Commander.
  • General-Lieutenant Anatoliy Sidorov, Eastern Military District First Deputy Commander.
  • Vice-Admiral Vladimir Korolev, Northern Fleet Commander.
  • Vice-Admiral Viktor Kravchuk, Deputy Baltic Fleet Commander.

Here are a few more looks at the table . . .

Makarov, Bondarev, Karakayev, and Ostapenko

Galkin and Sidorov

Korolev and Kravchuk

Gerasimov

Putin Recognizes Shamanov’s Promotion to General-Colonel

Not a New Face

In some sense, maybe it is a new face, or at least a reworked one.

We can’t leave this visite de visages (?!) without observations.

The Navy’s top ranks have been cleared.  Its new leaders are pretty junior.  With Chirkov moving up to CINC, Kravchuk is probably acting and set to become Baltic Fleet Commander.

The same thing might be said about the Air Forces with one-star Bondarev in charge.  He should be promoted quickly.  Recall he took a pretty hard line against Igor Sulim.

Gerasimov took over for Chirkin when he became Ground Troops CINC.

While other commanders have been held down in ranks, the MD commanders have crept up to three-stars.

Karakayev’s got to wonder when he’ll get his third.  Ostapenko probably knows Karakayev will get another before he does.

Sidorov is apparently filling in for Eastern MD Commander, Admiral Konstantin Sidenko at this session.

Ivashov on the Army and Putin

Leonid Ivashov

Leonid Ivashov recently talked to Narodnyy politolog on a variety of army topics including reforms, the possibility of a big war, rearmament, president-elect Vladimir Putin, and his military program.  Segodnia.ru also printed the interview.

Once Russia’s top military diplomat, now avowed geopolitician, the former three-star thinks Putin fears externally-driven regime change and is improving the army to forestall such an eventuality.  Ivashov sees a U.S.-led West depriving Russia of allies before focusing on Russia itself.

Asked about army reforms, Ivashov says they have succeeded in cutting forces, but not in rearming them or improving their social conditions.  Reforms have degraded and weakened the army.  Military men mock the New Profile reforms saying, “There’s a profile, but not armed forces.”  Ivashov calls reforms craziness, and says it’s like servicemen have lived in a house under continuous repair for 25 years.

Following up his comment on mobilization reserves cut to the bare minimum, NP asked the retired general-colonel if a big war is possible today.

Ivashov says yes.  Citing how “they” are beating up Russia’s strategic allies (Syria and Iran), he says “What is this if not war?”

Ivashov foresees a large conflict between the U.S. and China and possible spinoff regional and local wars.  He cites a Chinese specialist who calls for a Russian-Chinese alliance to deter a big war and curb the appetite of the West and international oligarchs.

Is Russia ready for such an eventuality?  Ivashov answers:

“I think Putin understands perfectly how military weakness and the absence of strategic allies can be the end for Russia.  Clearly, the Libyan situation ‘helped’ him understand this, just like what is happening now in Syria, and what they are preparing for Iran.  If you can’t defend the country, you are subjecting yourself to a great risk personally.”

“Now Putin is making a sharp turn to the side of strengthening defense capability.  One can only welcome this.  Because today they don’t simply beat the weak, they destroy them.”

Ivashov calls Putin’s military program ambitious, if not systematic.  The regime’s been in a “light panic” since Libya.

He intimates that more than 20 percent of the state armaments program will be stolen since the amount of theft cited by the military prosecutor covers only cases under investigation, not all corruption.

Ivashov suggests lobbying has replaced forecasts of future military actions as the driver of arms procurement.

The case of Mistral, which one wonders where it will be built and how it will be used, Ivashov says well-connected lobbyist structures ensure what gets produced is exactly what their enterprises make.  He was somewhat encouraged that Putin, at Sarov, entertained turning to specialists and experts to examine the army’s requirements.

On GPV 2020, Ivashov concludes it’ll be a serious step forward if only half of what’s planned gets produced, but it can’t be equipment designed in the 1970s and 1980s.  He sees OPK production capacity problems too.  He questions whether Votkinsk can produce 400 solid-fueled ballistic missiles by 2020.

Returning to the big war, he questions a focus on defensive operations for Russian conventional forces, saying offensive capabilities are needed to deter potential enemies.  He claims reduced force structure and mobilization capability have become a joke in the General Staff:

“The main problem for the Chinese in a conflict with us is not defeating our brigade, but finding it.”

Ivashov’s just a little up in arms over the armor situation.  He all but accuses the General Staff Chief of being a paid (or bribed) lobbyist for foreign tank and armored vehicle makers.  He suggests that Army General Makarov should be placed in cuffs if he says the Leopard-2 is better than the T-90 [what about Postnikov then?], and the Main Military Prosecutor should investigate him.

So what is to be done first and foremost to strengthen the country’s defense capability today?

Ivashov replies get rid of Serdyukov and Makarov who have done great damage, and strengthen cadres in the OPK and military by replacing “managers” with those who can apply military science (as Ivashov was taught) to the problem of developing new weapons.

The always provocative Ivashov doesn’t venture whether he thinks  the current emphasis on defense capability will continue or have the intended results.  He seems sincerely to believe in a possible Western intervention in Russia’s internal affairs.  But it’d be more interesting to hear him talk about whether the army would fight for Putin’s regime in something less than that maximal contingency.  Ivashov, unlike some critics of Russia’s defense policy, shies away from blaming the once-and-future Supreme CINC for at least some of the current military state of affairs.

The Winner Is . . .

Putin, politics, and industrial policy.

One loser, for sure, defense policy.

Putin got his 63 percent.  He didn’t need fraud to get 50+ percent and avoid a second round, but he (or someone) wasn’t willing to take that chance.  The cheating should have drawn a flag for piling on or unnecessary roughness.  That it happened says something about Putin’s fear of being out of power.  But we digress.

Politics won over policymaking, not least of all in defense policy.

Yes, Russia is not the only place this happens.  It happens in most of the world’s democratic states.  This doesn’t prove Russia’s a democracy; it just proves Russia has politics.  But so did the USSR.  It had fights between industry and the military.

But back to our story.

Promises and populism secured votes for Putin in Russia’s industrial centers where they’ve waited years for serious defense orders.  He’d have won here without writing checks his treasury might not be able to cash.  But the once-and-future Supreme CINC made pledges he may hope factory workers forget before 2018.

If they don’t, working class disgruntlement may mingle with urban, middle class discontent in an increasingly flammable political mixture.

The case in point here is tanks and Uralvagonzavod in Nizhniy Tagil.  Did Putin court anyone, or any defense enterprise, more than the General Director of UVZ Oleg Siyenko?  Did anyone get comparable preelection attention?

The closest we get is Putin’s intervention between the Defense Ministry, OSK, and Sevmash to solve their submarine pricing dispute last fall.  But industry didn’t exactly get everything it wanted in that case.

Siyenko Casts His Ballot

In an election day press-release, this industrial chieftain all but admitted his employees were ordered to vote for Putin.  Most probably never entertained the thought of doing otherwise.  UVZ likely didn’t have to organize “carousels,” but  “corporate voting” might have occurred.

On February 20, Putin declared 2,300 “new generation” tanks will be produced (by UVZ) under GPV 2020.

It was just February 15 that Putin had a meeting with Defense Minister Serdyukov and Siyenko.  It was actually more of a beating, for Serdyukov.

Putin With Serdyukov and Siyenko

The Defense Minister had to back down publicly from everything he’s said about tank acquisition over the last couple years.  He acknowledged, as Putin said, there will be a new tank from UVZ in 2013 that will enter series production in 2015.  And, for good measure, Serdyukov said the manufacturer will receive 100 percent advance payment on the GOZ.

As recently as January, the Defense Minister was lamenting huge stocks of old tanks and repeating his willingness to wait for fundamentally new armor rather than “new” T-72 or T-90 models.  In mid-2011, he criticized tank makers (UVZ) for dressing up old ideas, and said the army would just settle for updating its existing armor inventory.

Yes, everything changed sometime between then and now.

It was just prior to this Putin-Serdyukov-Siyenko session that General Staff Chief Nikolay Makarov again criticized the tanks offered to the army and argued for the military’s predominance in weapons procurement decisions.  Deputy PM Dmitriy Rogozin objected fiercely to Makarov’s public airing of dirty linen, and declared himself chief of acquisition.

All official doubts and complaints about Russian tanks heard in 2009, 2010, and 2011 were swept away in a stroke by Putin’s announcement.

It seems the Ground Troops — its supporting industry actually — were feeling left out of the GPV and GOZ.  Tanks were never one of Russia’s  priorities as enumerated by former armaments chief Vladimir Popovkin.

What do 2,300 tanks mean for the world’s largest country?  One that once measured sufficiency in tanks by the tens of thousands?  Is staving off a NATO ground attack really a top concern?  Would Moscow entertain putting most of its new tanks opposite China?  There’s been plenty written (including by Russians) about the end of the tank era.

What do these tanks mean for the GPV?  If they cost 200 million rubles per, the cost of the production run (if it actually happens) will cost close to 500 billion of the GPV’s 19 trillion rubles for procurement.  It’s a lot for one system.  The Putin-brokered sub deal in November was worth only 280 billion rubles.

So to return to the original point of this meandering post, these tanks are about industrial policy, updating the human and technical capital to make them, keeping a significant industrial center quiescent, and retaining the capability to sell tanks abroad.  There are, after all, other armies possibly facing big tank battles in the future.

When politics and defense intersect, the latter yields.  Nothing shocking in that, one admits.

One last thing.

Siyenko’s an interesting character.  The 46-year-old former bike racer and past President of the Russian Cycling Federation spent most of the 2000s as General Director of Gazprom subsidiary Gazeksport (Gazprom Eksport), selling natural gas to the Europeans.  From 2003, he was a deputy chairman of the shady gas intermediary Itera.  Itera Chairman Vladimir Makeyev too is a one-time world-class rider who succeeded Siyenko as the cycling federation’s head.

But suddenly in 2009, Siyenko changed tracks, and went to Sverdlovsk Oblast and UVZ in Nizhniy Tagil.  There must be a story explaining why he’d abandon gas for tanks and railcars.

Not Enough Resources

Konstantin Makiyenko (photo: Radio Mayak / Kirill Kurganov)

Still parsing reaction to Prime Minister Putin’s manifesto on the army . . . there are lots of positive reviews and recapitulations.  But commentators who don’t exactly agree with Putin are far more interesting and illuminating.

One particularly fitting this description is Konstantin Makiyenko, who makes succinct, obvious, and bravely ventured points.

Makiyenko, Deputy Director of CAST, is by no means anti-regime.  He is, however, honest.  His observations appeared in Interfaks-AVN, and you can read them courtesy of VPK.name.

He concludes simply that Russia may not have the resources for the plan of major army and defense industry modernization Putin laid out in his campaign article:

“The Russian economic system, which, with oil prices at 100 dollars a barrel, provides only four percent GDP growth, isn’t capable of being the base for realizing the plans outlined.”

AVN says Makiyenko doesn’t exclude that, owing to insufficient budgetary resources, the Finance Ministry will have to work out plans for future cuts in spending on national defense.  But, at the same time, he apparently said Putin’s manifesto on the army wasn’t populist, and he has “no objection” to majority of the Premier’s proposals.

But Makiyenko lays down a sharp, if understated, critique of Putin’s stewardship of Russia’s defenses since 1999.  Agreeing that nuclear deterrence has been the only guarantee of Russia’s security, Makiyenko continues:

“In this relation, the current situation is in no way different from the state of affairs in the 1990s, when, as it’s justly noted in [Putin’s] article, ‘other weighty material arguments didn’t exist.'”

“. . . adequately evaluating the situation now, one has to admit that even today other ‘material arguments’ haven’t appeared for Russia during the last 12 years.”

“In this connection, the thought about how one should particularly attentively follow the appearance of new technical means, for example MD systems and long-range, precision non-nuclear means, capable of devaluing Russia’s nuclear deterrence potential, are very important.”

So, conventional weakness drives Russian objections to MD, one supposes.

AVN also indicated Makiyenko is skeptical of Putin’s call for public-private partnerships and more private capital investment in the OPK given that the once-and-future Supreme CINC nationalized first-class companies like Irkut and Saturn.

Putin and the Army (Part III)

Putin Tours Aircraft Plant in Komsomolsk-na-Amure

This could be called “Putin and the OPK.”  The last five pages — more than 40 percent — of the Prime Minister’s election manifesto are about Russia’s defense sector.  It’s turgid and hard to digest.  

Putin’s website has a translation of the entire article. 

The tone and language at the end of the article differ from the rest.  Since not much has been accomplished in the OPK, Putin speaks in prescriptions, exhortations, platitudes, and imperatives.  Everything is “should” and “must.”  The text is rambling and somewhat unfocused.

Putin gives many non-specific mentions of:

  • “forming S&T capabilities”
  • “developing critical technologies for producing competitive products”
  • “reequipping the RDT&E infrastructure”
  • “investing in training specialists” 
  • “placing the Gosoboronzakaz for three-five, even seven years”
  • “a single organ for controlling ‘defense’ contracts”
  • “fair and sufficient prices”
  • “promoting competition in state purchases”
  • “driving forces of innovation growth”
  • “exchanging S&T information among those who can use it”
  • “streamlining manufacturing processes”
  • “increasing the prestige of defense industry occupations”

Shibboleths without concrete, prioritized, and achievable objectives won’t help the OPK after the election.

Let’s look for more coherent buried messages. 

Putin says up front:

“. . . we also have to talk plainly about [the OPK’s] accumulated problems.  It’s a fact that domestic defense centers and enterprises have missed several modernization cycles in the last 30 years.”

“We must fully overcome this lag in the next decade.”

The once-and-future President takes pains to stress that Russia’s OPK and scientific base, not those of other countries, will rearm the country’s forces.  While military-technical cooperation with partners is fine, Putin says Russia can’t depend on foreign arms or abandon self-reliance.  To the contrary, it needs to increase and support its own military-technological and scientific independence.

He writes:

“I am convinced that no amount of ‘pin-point’ purchases of military and scientific equipment can replace the production of our own weapons; these purchases can only serve as a source of technology and knowledge.”

Still, he warns:

“To increase the country’s defense capability in reality, we need the most modern, best equipment in the world, and not ‘absorbed’ billions and trillions.  It’s unacceptable for the Army to become a market for pawning off obsolete types of armaments, technologies, and RDT&E paid for at government expense.”

So Putin steers a path between those who say Russia can only rely on domestic arms producers, and those who say Russia’s defense sector is too decrepit and corrupt to supply the Armed Forces, so the military has to shop abroad.  But he definitely leans more toward the former view.

The once-and-future President sets a high bar for the OPK, probably ridiculously high considering how neglected the defense sector has been for 20 years:

“The activities of defense industry enterprises should concentrate on the mass production of high-quality weapons with the highest performance characteristics to meet both current and projected defense challenges.  Moreover, it’s only the latest weapons and military equipment that will enable Russia to strengthen and expand its foothold in the world arms markets, where the winner is the one who can offer the most advanced designs.”

“Reacting to present threats and challenges alone means being doomed to the role of someone who is always playing catch-up.  We must do our best to gain a technological and organizational edge over any potential adversary.  Such a stringent requirement should become the key criterion for us as we set targets for the defense industry.”

“The defense industry is in no position to calmly try to catch up with the latest developments.  We must facilitate breakthroughs and become leading innovators and manufacturers.”

So again, however realistic this goal may or may not be, Putin places a priority on Russia’s ability to export weapons and earn dollars.

He is sure rebuilding defense industry won’t be a back-breaking, Soviet-type burden on the country.  Still, he cautions:

“We must not repeat our past mistakes here.  The huge resources invested in the renewal of the defense industry and in the rearmament program must facilitate the modernization of the entire Russian economy.”

Another high bar.  A civilian economy of free, competitive, and self-sustaining industries can take good advantage of defense sector technology spin-offs.  It’s less clear how defense industry investments can help lagging sectors of Russia’s civilian economy.

Putin ominously warns corruption in the national security sphere is tantamount to state treason.  It’ll be interesting to see how the OPK reacts, and if or how he effects this declaration.

Despite years of state-controlled integration, the PM somewhat oddly says defense industry should be open to larger numbers of private enterprises and contractors.

And he opines that OPK pay should be equivalent to new higher pay in the Armed Forces.  This is probably true but it’s another costly promise.

He concludes the entire article saying Russia cannot fall behind and become vulnerable even if it costs a lot.  But the goal, he claims, is an army and defense industry that strengthens rather than exhausts the national economy.

Putin is many days late and many rubles short in fixing the OPK’s problems.  They should have been addressed before the current state armaments program (GPV) was launched.  The GPV cart was placed before the OPK horse for political reasons.

It’ll be interesting to see if this article serves as any kind of blueprint for the years that Putin serves, once again, as Russia’s chief executive.

It’s also interesting to see Putin return to the weakness theme.  And how avoiding real or perceived weakness is such a powerful motivation for him:

“. . . we should not tempt anyone by allowing ourselves to be weak.”

To reiterate, Putin says what needs defending are Russia’s natural resources.

One’s reminded of his address the day after Beslan more than seven years ago.  He said:

“We showed weakness.”

“And the weak get beaten.”

“Some want to rip ‘juicy’ pieces off us, others to help them.”

It’s basically what Stalin concluded about industrialization 81 years ago almost to the day:

“To slacken the tempo would mean falling behind.  And those who fall behind get beaten.”

“One feature of the history of old Russia was the continual beatings she suffered because of her backwardness.” 

“They beat her because it was profitable and could be done with impunity.”

“They beat her, saying:  ‘You are abundant,’ so one can enrich oneself at your expense.”

What Putin says is not so different.

Putin and the Army (Part II)

Putin Eating with Soldiers

Continuing with Prime Minister Putin’s latest pre-election article on the army . . . Russia Today published a translated version.

Describing the army’s “social dimension,” Putin says a modern army requires well-trained officers and soldiers on whom more demands can be placed.  And they, in turn, deserve pay commensurate with that of specialists and managers elsewhere in the economy.

Hence, the new pay system for officers this year which practically tripled their remuneration.

Putin mentions that military pensions were increased 1.6 times (60 percent), and he promises they will now increase annually by not less than 2 percent over inflation.

Retired or dismissed servicemen will get a “special certificate” good for further education or for retraining.

Then Putin tackles the painful military housing issue.  After recounting its history, he says, in 2008-2011, the army obtained or constructed 140,000 permanent and 46,000 service apartments.  But he admits:

“. . . despite the fact that the program turned out to be larger in scale than earlier planned, the problem still wasn’t resolved.”

He says the accounting of officers needing apartments was conducted poorly, org-shtat measures [dismissals] weren’t coordinated with the presentation of housing, and the situation has to be corrected.

Putin is, of course, alluding to the fact that maybe 30,000 or 80,000 of those 140,000 apartments the Defense Ministry acquired or built remain unoccupied.  But he’s not exactly tackling the problem head-on.

Putin says the “eternal” permanent and service apartment problems will finally be resolved in 2013 and 2014 respectively.

But in mid-December, in his “live broadcast,” Putin said his new deadlines were 2012 and 2013.  So, he’s just given himself an extra year on each.

Putin says the military’s mortgage savings program now has 180,000 participants, and 20,000 apartments have been acquired through it.

He also notes that regions and municipalities won’t have broken down military towns and infrastructure foisted upon them.

Next, manning. 

Putin gives the familiar figures–there are 220,000 officers and 186,000 sergeants and soldiers who now serve on contracts.  Over five years, the army will try to recruit 50,000 professional soldiers each year. 

Selection, Putin says, will be strict, and contractees will be trained in special centers and sergeant schools.

In the reported one-million-man Russian Armed Forces, 700,000 personnel will be professionals by 2017.  Conscripts will be reduced to 145,000 by 2020.

Putin says the mixed contract-conscript system of manning used for quite some time was just a compromise because Russia couldn’t afford an all-volunteer army.

However, politicians and generals always extolled the mixed system because it retained a universal obligation (at least theoretically) and kept the military from becoming “mercenaries.”

Putin endorses military police and priests in the ranks to keep order among remaining conscripts.  He also promises those who serve as draftees assistance with education and preferences in entering the government service.

The Prime Minister admits Russia lacks a concept for its national military reserve system, and developing one is a near-term task.

Although the course is set for a professional contract army, Putin still wants young men to prepare for service.  So don’t forget about military-patriotic indoctrination, military-applied sports, and DOSAAF.

And Putin indicates he supports Deputy PM Dmitriy Rogozin’s proposal for a Volunteer Movement of the National Front in Support of the Army, Navy, and OPK.

Part III will be the final five pages on the OPK.

Putin and the Army (Part I)

Putin Flanked by Green Suits (photo: Konstantin Zavrazhin)

Candidate Vladimir Putin’s election manifesto on the military and national security appeared in today’s Rossiyskaya gazeta.  The rambling 6,500-word essay reads like most campaign literature — a series of feel-good sound bites with inconvenient facts, details, and background left out.

But let’s get at it.

Putin says the changing world presents risks of an unpredictable nature.  He insinuates that Russia should expect challenges to its sovereignty over its natural resources.  It can’t tempt others by weakness.  Strategic nuclear deterrence preserved Russia’s sovereignty in the difficult 1990s as it does today.

Putin continues his habit of excoriating the long-ago 1990s but largely ignoring what he did or didn’t do during the 2000s.

He points right off to the GPV’s 19 trillion rubles to modernize the Armed Forces, and the coming FTsP’s 3 trillion for the OPK.  And, he says, he’s convinced the country can afford these expenditures.

Putin then turns to the nature of future war.  He wants the military to “look over the horizon” at the nature of threats in 30-50 years to determine what the army will need.

Deterrence has worked, and Russia keeps its nuclear “powder” dry.  But Putin points to the mass introduction of long-range, precise conventional arms becoming decisive even in a global conflict.

Someone tell Putin this is not news.  But there’s more.

Putin reveals that space and information (or cyber) warfare may be decisive in the future.  Beyond this, he continues, new beam, geophysical, wave, genetic, and even psychophysical weapons may be developed.  Their effects may be comparable to nuclear weapons but more acceptable politically.  So, expect the role of nuclear weapons in deterring aggression to decline.

He then segues wildly to responding quickly and effectively to other new challenges, and how Russia’s ODKB partners will help stabilize the “Eurasian space.”

OK.

Putin proceeds to a long-winded explanation of how the army saved Russia in the terrible 1990s.  As mentioned earlier, he doesn’t have a lot to say about the eight years he was Supreme CINC.

Putin claims he rejected a proposal (he attributes to then General Staff Chief Kvashnin) to move SSBNs from the Pacific and consolidate them in the Northern Fleet.  He says permanent readiness units with contractees were formed on all strategic axes, and, he claims, they allowed Russia to “force Georgia to peace” in August 2008.

No mention that the large-scale introduction of contract service failed miserably during this time.  Also no mention of “winning” the Second Chechen War by ceding federal control of that republic to a brutal young warlord.

Putin rightly notes the Soviet Army’s mobilization model made no sense for Russia, and there was no alternative to building a New Army [starting in late 2008 when he was not president, and after things went so well for the army in Georgia].  He admits there were difficulties and mistakes in this process, but goes on to describe his view of what’s been done in the army.

Full-up permanent readiness brigades have replaced old cadre units.  “Non-core, auxiliary functions” have been moved out of the army to maximize time for training.  And effective Defense Ministry sub-units responsible for the military order have to guarantee the effective formation of technical requirements for the development and production of arms and equipment.

Yes, but that’s not happening yet.

Putin lists other changes in the Russian military.  C2 organs cut by 50 percent.  Four districts with air, air defense, and naval forces subordinate to them.  Seven large air bases established.  Twenty-eight airfields renovated, and 12 more set for this year.  The share of modern ICBMs increased from 13 to 25 percent.  Ten more regiments to be reequipped with Yars or Topol-M.  Putin says Russia has accepted its new strategic ALCM.  Dolgorukiy and Nevskiy will soon enter the fleet.  The Navy’s renewed its presence on the world’s oceans.

Then the Prime Minister turns to tasks for the next ten years — rearmament:  nuclear forces, VKO, comms, recce, C2, EW, UAVs and unmanned strike systems, transport aviation, individual soldier systems and protection, precision weapons and defense against them.  And he reemphasizes, new generation precision weapons need development and a larger place in Russia’s future doctrine.

Putin seems to say Russia’s happier with the capability of defeating any missile defense than trying to develop its own.  He again promises effective, asymmetrical steps to counter any U.S. MD.

Then, a ten-year acquisition laundry list from candidate Putin:

  • 400 ICBMs and SLBMs.
  • 8 Borey SSBNs.
  • About 20 multipurpose submarines.
  • More than 50 surface ships.
  • Nearly 100 military satellites.
  • More than 600 aircraft.
  • More than 1,000 helicopters.
  • 28 regimental sets of S-400.
  • 38 battalions of Vityaz SAMs.
  • 10 brigades of Iskander-M.
  • More than 2,300 tanks.
  • About 2,000 SP artillery systems.
  • 17,000 military vehicles.

The tanks are really surprising.  And the list doesn’t really even match the ten-year tasks Putin set out.

Look for the second half later.  It covers army social issues and the OPK.