The Collapse of the Neo-Soviet Army
We cannot afford to create a fully professional army. If we save funds elsewhere, we will certainly go back to this idea, but well prepared.
— Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, October 2010
As shown in the chart at left, between 2006 and 2010 the number of young Russian men drafted into the army has nearly tripled, from just over 200,000 per year to nearly 600,000 per year.
There are two simple reasons for this shocking increase in conscription: First, the number of young men newly eligible to serve in the Russian army is plummeting along with the general population (from about 900,000 in 2004 to 500,000 in 2011); second, the horrors of dedovschina and other barbaric practices and hardships of the army have led many young men to reject the option of volunteering. The result is that nearly 100% of all newly-eligible Russians were drafted into the army in 2010. If things go on as they are, even drafting every single eligible man won’t be enough to fill out Russia’s ranks — and the Russian army will start collapsing.
A terrific report in the Washington Post exposes the fundamental weakness of Russia’s crumbling, corrupt, impoverished military establishment:
When one-time furniture salesman Anatoly Serdyukov was suddenly named Russia’s defense minister, many career military officers smirked. Now after tens of thousands have lost their jobs under his reforms, the mockery has turned to rumbles of possible mutiny.
A union of veterans from the Airborne Forces, considered the most professional and proud branch of Russia’s military, has set a protest rally against Serdyukov for Sunday. It is unclear whether any serving officers will take part, but the rally in a Moscow park down the road from the Defense Ministry has raised fears of an uprising in one of the world’s largest armies.
Some observers say that the veterans’ campaign against Serdyukov, the first civilian defense minister in 90 years, may have been orchestrated by members of the top military brass and weapons industries who have lost power and money because of his reforms.
“It’s the most radical reform of the Russian military in 150 years,” said Vitaly Shlykov, a retired military intelligence officer who advises the Defense Ministry on the reforms. “And it touches upon huge resources.”