• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Prospects of Military Reform in Russia Are Bleak

    Russian military (Photo by Newscom)

    MOSCOW — The drastic military reform plans articulated by Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov in mid-October are meeting with a sweeping opposition in the armed forces. The planned cuts among officers more than twofold — from 315,000 to 150,000 — are a matter of grave concern among mid-ranking officers that are going to be the reform’s main victims. Unrest in the officer corps is translating into open protest here and there.

    What measures is the Russian military leadership taking to ease the situation? They are typical of the Soviet-era approach to addressing problems — classifying all information about adverse developments. In mid-November Chief of the General Staff, Army General Nikolay Makarov signed a directive titled “On Prohibiting Disclosure of Information Concerning Revamping the Russian Military.” In fact, it introduces harsh censorship over disseminating and publishing information about the military reform and prohibits unveiling the data concerning the military’s problems and the troops’ attitudes.

    Clearly, classifying the information about the opposition to the military reform will hardly contribute to pushing it through. The overhaul is affecting the interests of the military elite by clipping their influence and opportunities. Russia’s economic crisis will only exacerbate discontent and protest moods among officers. With the military and secret services serving as the principal pillars of the incumbent regime, abusing their interests could undermine its social base. It is worth recalling that it was Nikita Khrushchev and Mikhail Gorbachev-initiated radical military cuts deprived them of the top brass backing and eventually resulted in their demise.

    Both Medvedev and Putin could be fully aware of the lessons. Thus, the chances that the military reform in its current format will be implemented are bleak. But should Medvedev unexpectedly show too much zeal in pressing ahead on the reform, it could cost him dear. Then Putin’s comeback as president could occur much faster than anticipated.

    Posted in International [slideshow_deploy]

    3 Responses to Prospects of Military Reform in Russia Are Bleak

    1. Dale Herspring, Kans says:

      You were obviously limited by space in your comments. I follow this issue probably more closely than anyone else in the West. Ihave a piece coming out in Problems of Post-Communism this month on the issue of Military Reform.

      It is clear that there is opposition, albeit far less than I anticipated given the draconian nature of the reform (comparable in a structural sense to Ogarkov's 'Revolution in Military Affairs.' I would not rule out this reform (ie. making the Russian armed forces look more like the US military) being carried through to the end.

      Dale Herspring

    2. nick ratet, mn says:

      i hate russia

    3. Percy Jackson, Greec says:

      I hate Prussia.

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.

    ×