EDITORIAL: Russia’s So-Called “Army”


Russia’s So-Called “Army”

$840 million.

That’s roughly what it would cost the Kremlin in cash alone to honor its obligation to pay $5,600 to each of the 150,000 Russian army officers it plans to discharge in order to avoid the future cost of their upkeep as the Kremlin’s budget revenues plummet in the wake of falling oil prices.  The nation’s hundred-billion-dollar budgetary reserve fund is expected to fully exhaust by the end of next year attempting to make up for the lost revenues even with deficit spending and massive foreign borrowing.

Writing in the Moscow Times columnist and defense expert Alexander Golts (we’ve also translated his piece from the Russian press on the same topic in today’s lead item) says the Kremlin doesn’t have the money to cash them out, and that’s not the Kremlin’s only obligation. It also has to buy each one of them an apartment!

If the Kremlin Welshes on this obligation, as seems inevitable and as the Russian state has done so often in the past, stabbing its citizens in the back whenever the mood strikes, it will be a clear sign of just how low into neo-Soviet mire the Putin regime has already descended.

Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov has announced that officers have undergone comprehensive testing to determine whether they are qualified to serve in the military. The only results that have been made public so far concern top- ranking commanders. Of 250 generals and colonels in generals’ positions, 50 have been declared unfit for their jobs and will be fired. In all likelihood, no less than 20 percent of lower ranking officers will also be deemed unfit to defend the nation.

These numbers are actually low. They don’t reflect the much higher percentage of personnel who are not fit to serve. Because of a lack of funds in the 1990s, combat training was brought to a halt (unless you count the first Chechen war). Ships didn’t leave their bases, individual aircraft flew as few as 20 hours per year instead of the necessary 160 hours, and no training maneuvers were conducted at all. Officers advanced in rank only as a result of how long they had served, not based on their level of qualifications. That is one of the main reasons why there are so many unfit personnel in the armed forces.

Head of the General Staff Nikolai Markarov did not mince words when he spoke at the Academy of Military Science on Dec. 16. “Our pilots’ preparedness level has dropped to dangerous levels,” he said. “During the Georgian conflict, we could literally count on our fingers the number of pilots who were capable of carrying out military tasks under simple, straightforward conditions.”

The situation with the ground forces is even worse. “We had to search through the entire armed forces for individual lieutenant colonels, colonels and generals who were capable of participating in combat operations because staff commanders of “paper divisions” [shell divisions made up only of officers with no soldiers] and regiments were simply in no condition to resolve military challenges. When those commanders were given people and equipment, they simply became disoriented, and some even refused to carry out orders,” Makarov said.

The defense minister’s plan was to cut the number of officers from 305,000 to 150,000 by firing those who do not want to raise their qualifications and those who have become spoiled by a decade of doing nothing. Judging from events, this is the real purpose behind Serdyukov’s decision to conduct the merit review.

All of this would have seemed fair and justified were it not for one circumstance. When Serdyukov announced the planned cuts six months ago, high-ranking Defense Ministry officials affirmed that the process would be carried out in strict accordance with the law. Any officer with 10 years of service was entitled to receive an apartment as compensation plus a one-time payment of up to 185,000 rubles ($5,600).

The problem is that the state cannot afford to compensate dismissed officers, and the crisis made a bad financial situation much worse. When it became clear that the funds for severance packages were woefully low, military leaders thought up the idea of conducting competence testing. After all, officers who don’t pass the test can be fired according to a different article in the law — for having violated the terms of their service contracts. And the beauty of this article is that it allows the military to dismiss officers without any obligation to provide them apartments or other compensation.

The other trick is to tell an officer that he can “voluntarily” leave the armed service. This will still technically keep him on the “active list” for receiving an apartment, but the odds of ever moving up on that list are very low.

It is easy to predict what will happen next. The military is quite skilled at convincing its officers to quit “voluntarily” by bringing their service record into question and placing demands upon them that are impossible to fulfill.

In addition, these manipulations and traps discredit the entire reform process. With the testing program, the military leadership has shown that all abusive and deceptive means are justified in the name of “military reforms.” Who is going to trust the next program that is also presented as another “reform”?

In the end, reforms will be seriously delayed if they don’t grind to a halt altogether. And that is something we have seen happen more than once over the last 15 years

29 responses to “EDITORIAL: Russia’s So-Called “Army”

  1. Stalin dealt with the excessive numbers of his own officers by simply shooting or imprisoning most of them shortly before WWII.

    I heard it’s officially called “effective managing” now.

  2. Don’t forget that Stalin also wiped out his General Staff and more. Perhaps as many as 35,000 officers of the army were “liquidated.” The estimated total of those imprisoned during the purges reaches the fantastic figure of 8,000,000. Especially harsh were the ones that were taken prisoner and spent time abroad.


  3. Goatmeat anyone?

  4. Stalin, Stalin, Stalin…

    Army is in ass, unfortunately. But now situation is much better than 10-15 years ago.

    And if our army is so bad, why are you so frighten by “evil imperialistic Russia”:)))? You can easy to crush it if it will be necessary, don’t you?

  5. Gary Marshall


    It would not take much for the Ukraine and Poland to strike and overrun Russia, especially if it launched an attack on those territories of Georgia it does not occupy.

    Russia can huff and puff at NATO and its exercises in Georgia, but the pitiable nation does not have the resources to threaten so many hostile and belligerent neighbors, a direct result of KGB diplomacy.

    Even the Turkmen, a major gas supplier, is reviewing its relationship with the treacherous Russia and increasingly impotent Russia.

    Gary Marshall

    • Russia are impotent, but we anyway are affraid.
      It’s ridiculous. If we were so weak, your troops should already march on Red Square.

      Russia don’t threaten Nato, Russia just answer on threatening by Nato, like rockets near our frontiers and puppet agressive regimes like in Georgia.

      “KGB diplomacy”
      Do you think that only fools served in KGB, which was the best intelligence in the world?

      • Sure, KGB is the best.. But it was nicely overplayed by CIA in Afghanistan during 80’s, maggot. Russian military intelligence (GRU) is quite professional, but KGB was just bunch of stupid commies.

        • Read for example about Jordan Anthony Walker, mister expert in Russian itelligence.

          May be not the best, but one of the best.

          Rivalry between special services went with variable success.

          • Unlike Russia, western Euope does not go in for violent military expansion and conquest any more, if Europe was wanting to invade Russia they would have done it in the 90’s.

            Russia on the other hand frequently issues blatant threats against its neigbors, and tries to undermine their territorial integrity through the creation of separatist movements, claims it has special rights to a “sphere of influence” and supports ethnic clenasing in those areas its separatist puppets control.

            • “if Europe was wanting to invade Russia they would have done it in the 90’s”
              Europe has been ill with disease of bringing anything (civilization, progress, form of goverment etc) to other world by force of weapon.

              There is an another young country.

              In the 90’s there was testing of Russia’s defensive capacity in Chechnya.

              “Creation of separatist movements”
              Where did you see this?

              • South Ossetia, Abkhazia, Transdenistr are a few examples.
                Funny how Russian hypocrisy always manifests itself in RuSSian actions.
                Support separatism in former subject states, but commit genocide in Chechnya, Ingushetia and Daghestan.
                For your information Algymuff, there was no western support for Chechen independance (although there should have been), your own army was quite happy to nsupply them with weapons due to its corruption.

  6. Actually the stuff like in this joke
    would be relatively easy to pull off.

    Yet of course this very possible Russian reaction makes it impossible:

  7. Andrjuha,
    South Ossetia, Abkhazia, Transdenistr are old conflicts, which originated without interference of Russia. And “Creation of separatist movements” is a outrageous lie.

    You also use double standarts and you are very hypocrisy when you support separatists in Chechnya, which were connected with international terrorizm, and condemn Ossetins, which don’t want to be part of Georgia. It is ridiculous.

    Separatists in Chechnya were supported by international terrorists including talibs. It’s well known that talibs collaborated with special services of US.

    • Actaully Algymuff, you and other Russians are the ones who show hypocrisy, supporting separatist movements in other countries, while brutally crushing them at home.
      In addition, Chechen terrorism in Russia did not occur prior to your brutal second invasion and genocide against the Chechen people.

      For a good description of the Russian creation of the Abkhazian separatist movement refer “Conflict in the Caucasus” by Svetlana Chervonnaya.

      She documents quite well the KGB’s drive to create a separatist movement in Abkhazia during the 1980’s in an attempt to destabilise Georgia and tie it to Russia permanently.

      • Why do you support Chechens and condemn Ossetins?


        Why do you support Ossetians and condemn Chechens?

    • aglyamoff, read this please:

      If you are not under governmental control you can be called terorrist by Russia and it’s friends. Lovely, isn’t it?

  8. aglyamoff,

    Once again you slimebag you type accusations and offer no links, or evidence. Just run the keyboard. If anyone offers “outrageous lies” it is Rashans like you. Andrew already explained to you in a scholarly way that Ossetians fleed to Georgia from Rashans, and now are under the mangy kind again. Are Rashans going to go to Tbilisi to chase the rest of them down?

    • I sad well-known things.

      Ossetins themselves turned out Georgian troops from Tshinval. May be because they very love Georgians.


      Russians just some helped.

      • Really Algymuff, is that why the RuSSian military takes all the credit?
        According to your President, it was a great Russian military victory, and entirely due to the “Glorious” Russian army.

        You also forget to mention that there are more Ossetians living in the rest of Georgia that there are in South Ossetia, and they are violently anti Russian, and the large % of “South Ossetians” who were quite happy living in the Georgian controlled areas of South Ossetia prior to the war, and that the head of the pro Georgian administration in the Georgian zones was an ethnic Ossetian Dimitry Sanakoyev


        • I told about only Tzhinval. Russians combated in other places. Near peacekeeper’s villiage, for example.

          Dimitry Sanakoyev is nobody.

          Georgian–Ossetian conflict originated in at least 1918.

          • Actually Dimitry Sanakoyev is the former PM of South Ossetia, and a former independance fighter who sees the real enemy of his people as Russia.
            BTW, The 1918 fighting was a result of (Russian) Bolsheviks leading an uprising against the Menshevik government of Georgia. So once again, Russians are a cancer.

          • And furthermore it was the Russians who finally drove the Georgians out of Tshkinvali on the evening of the 10th, after the Georgians had captured the whole city.
            The Russian peacekeeping base was in the centre of Tskhinvali, not in a village.

            Really you are a complete muff Algy.

  9. And I find very laughable that any nationalists from neighbor countries pose themselves as any overrussianmen.

  10. Gary Marshall


    The reasons for not invading Russia are obvious.

    What nation would wish to overrun and govern Russia. Russians are already doing a fine job of exterminating themselves with the most incompetent and barbarous leaders and generally the most sheepish citizens.

    Darwin’s theory of natural selection best explains why so few Russians will dare to make a stand on principle. Those that do are quickly murdered or silenced. Survival thus depends upon meekness and silence.

    What a threat Russia is! An economic basket case without a friend in its own backyard, a broken and decaying military, and nuclear missiles of which most would not launch due to negligence.

    But Russians are not afraid, you say. They are probably too drunk to know any better.

    Gary Marshall

    • I don’t understand one thing. Why do you find any dirt about Russia and try to say that this occur only in Russia.

  11. Gary Marshall

    Hello Aglyamoff,

    It is not just one piece of dirt, dear fellow. It is a mountain of it. The horrors that Russians face daily are numerous and occur with impunity.

    This is not some joke or some trifle to be cheaply ignored as you seem to think. People are suffering and you spend your time trying to deflect attention from it with all the intelligence of a simpleton.

    Why? That is what I do not understand.

    What is coming these next few years will push orderly, lawful, democratic, and wealthy societies to the extremity.

    This catastrophe has only started and Russia is already surrounded and mired in failure.

    Wait until next year when things are that much worse the world over!

    Gary Marshall

  12. Haha Chechens are terrorists why would anyone support them? Remember Beslan?
    Ossetians did nothing wrong and deserve our respect.
    La RUSSOPHOBE will no doubt call this “hypocrisy” but the peaceful Ossetians are more worthy. We do not always need to support whoever America deems. Americans would never have heard of the attacks against the ethnic Ossetins and their desire to break-away if it was not for Georgian War.
    Not all separatist movements are as worthy as Ossetia.

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