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#15 - JRL 7059
Military Continues to Decay While Few Projects Are Funded
January 18, 2003
Analysis by Aleksandr Protsenko:
"Time to Mend the Armored Train"; "Defense Order Grows by a Third, But There's Not Much Money for the Army"

At a special (closed) session of the cabinet of ministers to consider the 2003 state defense order, it was confirmed that the total amount of funds allocated for this purpose will be increased by a third (33.4%).

Our Army has fallen into decay. Here for example is what Airborne CINC Georgiy Shpak says about the equipment of our troops: "Outmoded BMD-1 and BTR-D vehicles, adopted into the armament in 1969 and 1974 respectively, make up the bulk of the inventory. Up to 80 percent of them have been operated for 15 years or more. A total of 95 percent of the BMD-1s and BTR-Ds have undergone one if not two major overhauls. The number of vehicles of the latest generation, the BMD-3, is less 7 percent. If we do not take urgent steps, at the present rate of armored equipment restoration and repair, in ten years the Airborne Troops will be left with no vehicles at all."

But the country has no money even for the most urgent Army requirements. "We still need a long time before we can begin supplying the Russian Army with new equipment and weapons, so that the Army can adequately and effectively react to arising threats," said Mikhail Kasyanov at the government session. That is, "our armored train" will basically be "sidetracked" in 2003 as well. The only tangible additions of money go to equip the Army with Topol-M strategic missiles, build fourth-generation nuclear submarines, and make border improvements in the Northern Caucasus. For well-known reasons, financing of the war on terrorism is also being increased.

Another 45.5 billion budget rubles will go to finance 3 thousand projects related to development of new technology and to testing and adoption into the armament of 200 new types of weapons. The defense plants await this with particular impatience. This is because if they acquire the status of supplier of new equipment to the Russian Army, they have better chances to push their products for export. "The foreign customer usually won't buy what isn't in the armament of the Russian Army itself, at least on paper," one major industrialist said.

However, the new types will be supplied to our troops only in meager series, which does not have practical influence on the combat readiness of the country's armed forces. This year, Russian soldiers continue to wear basically their field uniform-the everyday uniform, let alone the dress uniform, is still in short supply. Fuels and lubricants are also at a deficit, with the result that troop combat training suffers. For the year, plans are to construct more than 11 thousand apartments, which is supposed to freeze the number of new officers without apartments, but will not reduce them.

For comparison, planned US national defense spending for 2003 will be five times the entire Russian federal budget. But they can afford it: by UN estimates, the US economy is 40 times the size of Russia's.

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