Russia’s Frantic French Follies

Mikhail Barabanov, editor-in-chief of the Moscow Defense Brief, writing in the Moscow Times, reports on the latest total insanity coming out of the Russian military establishment:

Most people had trouble believing media reports last month that the Russian Navy was planning to buy a $1 billion helicopter carrier from France. First, the Kremlin has always adhered to the sacred principle of producing big-ticket military projects domestically at any cost. After all, it is a given that a superpower must be able to manufacture its own ships, fighter jets and missiles. Second, France is a NATO country. Third, Russia is supposed to be in a deep economic crisis. Where would the military come up with $1 billion to buy a single ship? Fourth, Russian officials themselves denied the reports.

But on Wednesday, General Staff chief Nikolai Makarov put an end to all of the speculation. He announced at a news conference in Ulan Bator that Russia is indeed planning to sign an agreement by the end of the year on the purchase of a Mistral-class helicopter carrier. This represents Russia’s largest foreign military purchase in history — and the first from a NATO member. Moreover, Makarov announced plans to manufacture jointly with France three or four additional carriers, but in Russian shipyards.

The head of the Navy, Admiral Vladimir Vysotsky, is thought to be the chief initiator of the idea to buy the Mistral. Last year when he visited France, his jaw dropped once he saw the French carrier. It is also believed that the Kremlin supported his idea for political reasons — to thank French President Nicolas Sarkozy for his pro-Moscow stance on many foreign policy issues.

If the Navy does indeed have an extra $1 billion in its budget, shouldn’t it spend this money on more important projects? Perhaps the money should be spent on improving the country’s own shipbuilding industry, which has been underfinanced for years. The Navy has spent a disproportionate amount of its funds on building nuclear submarines, such as the Yury Dolgoruky, which have run into problems being fitted for Bulava missiles. Meanwhile, few new ships are being built, existing ships are poorly maintained, and an increasing number of old, dilapidated ones are being decommissioned. This may explain why Makarov and many in the Kremlin fantasize about adding a modern, French-built aircraft assault carrier that can carry 16 helicopters, 40 tanks or 900 troops and is equipped with a fully functional hospital.

The real question, of course, is whether the Navy even needs such an expensive helicopter carrier. Just where does Makarov plan on deploying the Mistral? In Somalia? Perhaps it would make much more sense to concentrate on beefing up its naval defense capabilities closer to home — in the Baltic, Black and Barents seas — before it gets itself bogged down in interventions overseas.

As for Makarov’s idea of building a series of French-designed carriers in Russian shipyards, how will Russia finance these huge projects? It can’t even finance the manufacturing of simple corvettes. More likely than not, the Navy will wreck its new expensive toy even faster than it has destroyed and neglected its Russian ships.

It is mind-boggling that the Navy and the Kremlin are willing to let the country’s domestic shipbuilding industry die out because of chronic underfunding and misallocation of funds, but they do not mind heaping $1 billion — which could easily increase  — to support ship building in a NATO country.

Needless to say, the Mistral purchase will have a devastating effect on Russian shipbuilders’ already difficult task of selling their ships to other countries. It would be hard to develop a more damaging advertising campaign for Russia’s defense industry. Russia’s shipbuilders don’t deserve this negative PR. After all, they are not to blame when the military refuses to pay them for already completed jobs.

The military’s top brass is tightfisted with its own shipbuilders but is more than willing to squander a huge amount of money on French ones. Maybe this is because traveling to Paris to negotiate purchasing contracts is more enjoyable than trekking to dismal Severodvinsk or Komsomolsk-on-Amur.

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20 responses to “Russia’s Frantic French Follies

  1. They need it to protect Russia from all those UFOs that keep landing and crashing on Russian territory. Russia Today told me all about it.

  2. Well after their rustbucket fleet limped over to Venezuala (with two tugs in tow jusy in case any of the ships broke down) failed missile tests and the likes can one be surprised by this?

    They will be bying one of everything from most people in the near future and then no doubt attempting to copy them domestically.

    Also you should read up about the farago of Russian aircraft carrier (refurbished) that was supposed to be supplied to India. You will then understand why they want to buy French ie it might be delivered on time & it will actually work.

  3. Of course they are buying outside of their dilapidated and unreliable arms industry.

    Pootie must stay the playground bully or more empire is lost to them which is going to happen with time and attrition anyways.

    His foreign alliances are with the toxic waste on the planet….Syria, NK, Chavez and Iran, need we say more.

    If the Kremlin idiots are stupid enough to use their military hardware in a big way then they are going to fall on that sword.

    In reality like every bully on the planet, Saddam was one until reality set in, they can probably be beaten by a girl with one hand tied behind her back.

  4. Pingback: Russia's Frantic French Follies « La Russophobe | frenchbrite.com

  5. Rosissyskis need this carrier to invade Crimea, and threaten Georgia in case the Gori tunnel through the mountains gets blown up and the Rosiyski Troops get trapped and have to surrender for a Mcdonalds.
    Where will Roosisyski go with this stupid carrier anyway? It is only built to commercial, and not military standards. Cheap enough to be affordable. Just like the French Cars in the USA. They were laughed out of the country. Anybody remember Simca, Citroen, Pooguet, Renault Dauphin, or some Syphilitic Alphonses idea of a car? Wait till this Mistral catches fire. Happens to carriers.

    http://www.theautochannel.com/news/writers/bhagin/1998/fs9835.html

  6. Here is another example of the failure of Russian “industry” and the inferiority of its products.

    The Russian flagship carrier “Aeroflot” (I have flown with them several times, imagine all the horror stories multiplied by 10, and thats what they are really like…..) has chosen to ditch the Russian manufacturers products and purchase Boeing and Airbus ariliners in order to modernise its fleet.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8234421.stm

  7. Aeroflot, in Soviet times they didn’t even report crashes. I remember reading one horrific story of a father who for years tried to find out what happened to his daughter. She dies on one of their unreported crashes.

    Alcoholism alone in Russia would keep me off of their flights. Ooops, a drunk pilot was demanded to be taken off a flight in February by passengers:

    http://www.news.com.au/travel/story/0,28318,25006253-5014090,00.html

    There is no Russian made product/service that most of the tech/safety savvy West would ever invest in or use.

  8. Crisis looms in Russia’s armed forces

    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Central_Asia/KI04Ag01.html

    What especially troubled the procurator was that officer crime had apparently tripled in 2008. Criminal proceedings for crimes related to corruption were instituted against a total of more than 500 officers, including 350 senior officers, 117 troop unit commanding officers and 20 generals. “This is the biggest figure in the past five years,” Fridinskiy stressed. However, based on undisclosed statistics for 2009, it appeared that this poor record might now be eclipsed. Crimes related to officer corruption mostly involved bribe-taking, official forgeries and embezzlement.

    (…)

    Since the beginning of 2009, according to the Russian Defense Ministry there were 181 non-combat deaths. Twenty-three personnel were killed in non-combat incidents in June: 14 apparent suicides, six accidents, two incidents involving breaches of the rules for handling weapons and one death as a result of dangerous driving.

    Moreover, officers implicated in the institutionalized phenomenon of dedovshchina revealed equally disturbing trends. One anonymous Defense Ministry official said “1,082 service personnel were victims of criminal actions by officers last year”. In 2008, 280 officers were convicted of hazing related crimes, “including 18 troop unit commanding officers”.

    In the spring of 2008, a commander in a Far Eastern Military District unit tortured seven conscripts with a hot iron. In Chechnya, where the Russian authorities had claimed that only contract personnel served, one warrant officer was poisoned and the regimental commander attempted to cover up the crime, even prohibiting his hospital treatment. Warrant Officer Mukhambetkaliyev consequently died en route to hospital.

    (…)

    Some conscripts with criminal records were drafted in the autumn of 2008. According to unofficial Defense Ministry figures, the proportion of conscripts with a criminal record in this year’s spring draft campaign totaled 170,000 – that is, more than half of all conscripts (the conscription plan was for 305,000). In this context, the increases in crime, corruption and dedovshchina being reported are hardly surprising, and the top brass are bracing for worse figures this autumn.

    • @What especially troubled the procurator was that officer crime had apparently tripled in 2008. (…) Crimes related to officer corruption mostly involved bribe-taking, official forgeries and embezzlement.

      Of course, no war crimes in Georgia whatsoever (officially).

  9. “Some conscripts with criminal records were drafted in the autumn of 2008. ”

    I don’t get it, what is this fixation with other people’s problems, we as a country and a people got a whole bunch of issue that’ll take decades to fix, especially corruption.

    What ever the scale of Russian corruption really is, it is simply dwarfed by our very own, since so far our own government “lost”, “unaccounted”, “misallocated” over four TRILLION dollars, and its just the fund which simply vanished, not including the massive dept.

    As for the army also got out own massive issue, like “Prisoners to Private” recruitment and so on.

    US army recruits illegal aliens – http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=9a0_1192120263

    Exclusive: Gangs Spreading In The Military – http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/07/28/eveningnews/main3107316.shtml

    I’d rather see our own problems taken care of then pointing figures all the way across the ocean to the other side of the planet.

    • @“Some conscripts with criminal records were drafted in the autumn of 2008. ”

      Not “some”, but the majority of them.

      @I’d rather see our own problems taken care of then pointing figures all the way across the ocean to the other side of the planet.

      I live on this “other” side of the planet.

      @What ever the scale of Russian corruption really is, it is simply dwarfed by our very own

      Really? Hundreds of Russian soldiers were SOLD INTO SLAVERY by their officers – I mean, literally this, it’s not a hyperbole, they’re than kept as slaves (and thousands are just being rented for labour). Thousands of other conscripts are forced by officers and older soldiers to beg/steal/prostitute themselves.

  10. “I live on this “other” side of the planet.”

    Which one would that be? I’m in Seattle and on the FRAEC board, and after doing business with the Russians for a decade and having lived there I “kind” of have first hand experience of what’s going on there.

    “Really? Hundreds of Russian soldiers were SOLD INTO SLAVERY by their officers – I mean, literally this, it’s not a hyperbole, they’re than kept as slaves (and thousands are just being rented for labour). Thousands of other conscripts are forced by officers and older soldiers to beg/steal/prostitute themselves.”

    You got any credible sources on that? Maybe statistical data of some sort, or is it all just conjecture? Because I do know I thing or two about Russian military structure and recruitment practices, which are just as brutal as in any other country at war. Israel imports their front line cannon fauder by the way, and these days mostly from Ukraine.

    And again, who gives a crap what they do, we got gangs with military training who coming back from active war zones, now that’s a problem because they are no longer punks with guns that deal dope on the corner, they are trained killers with trigger time and head on the swivel. Mexican gangs are already ambushing cops in Texas/Nevada/Arizona Baghdad style, so who gives a crap how the Russians fill their ranks, we got major drug cartels which are literally armies and not some characters from movies.

    • @You got any credible sources on that?

      Russian ‘factory soldiers’ exposed

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/3240866.stm

      Russian soldiers ‘used for sex’

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6356707.stm

      And so on.

      @Because I do know I thing or two about Russian military structure and recruitment practices, which are just as brutal as in any other country at war.

      According to them, they were never at war. Chechen “campaigns” were “restoriation of constitutional order” and “counter-terrorist operation” and Georgia was “peacekeeping”.

      @Israel imports their front line cannon fauder

      Cannon what?

      @And again, who gives a crap what they do, we got gangs with military training who coming back from active war zones

      And it’s something new to any modern war ever? (Maybe besides the Israelis, who seem to be copying with this – but they have unique armed forces.)

  11. Yes, I said “credible” sources, not James Rodgers. Is he a member here btw? You are aware that he is statistically biased and anti-Russian?

    http://www.journalisted.com/james-rodgers?allarticles=yes

    I’m sure it works for you, but I prefer reason and logic, basically things that scare you because then you wont be able to hide behind your paranoiac fears.

    The pictures are not even captioned, give me a break. You know what captions are and what they are for?

    The other article is not even authored, it’s a “monitoring”! LOL!

    That’s what happens when people feed on FOX, they’ll eat sh!t and ask for seconds.

  12. Zack is an American CPUSA and you are
    giving him an ulcer by badmouthing
    anything soviet…he worship
    Vlad the Impaler on his knees every night!!!

  13. By the way, flying for Arrow Air in Jarujelski days,
    we got the Lot Polish contract because their Ilushins kept crashing…6 in one year!!!
    One thousand deaths!!!

    With ONE DC-8, we flew two years non stop EVERY days, doing the work of ten VC Tenskis
    (the IL-62 was a poor imitation of the
    British VC-10) The Polacks where swearing that we had three DC-8 with the same tail number!!!

    Three crews of three and two mechanics in Warsaw…while the communist Poles needed three hundred folks to do the same flying!!!

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