Armed Forces of the Russian Federation
The Armed Forces of the Russian Federation is the military of Russia, established after the break-up of the Soviet Union. On 7 May 1992 Boris Yeltsin signed a decree establishing the Russian Ministry of Defence and placing all Soviet troops on the territory of the RSFSR under Russian Federation control. The Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces is the President of the Russian Federation (currently Vladimir Putin).
The Ministry of Defence serves as the administrative body of the military. Since Soviet times, the General Staff has acted as the main commanding and supervising body of the Russian Military Forces. However, currently the General Staff's role is being reduced to that of the Ministry's department of strategic planning, the Minister himself, currently Anatoliy Serdyukov is now gaining executive authority over the troops. Previous Defence Ministers were Pavel Grachev from 1992 to 1996, Igor Rodionov from 1996 to 1997, Igor Sergeyev from 1997 to 2001 and Sergei Ivanov from 2001 to 2007. Other departments include the personnel directorate as well as the Rear Services of the Armed Forces of Russia, railroad troops and construction troops. The Chief of the General Staff is currently General Yury Baluyevsky.
The Russian military is divided into the following branches: Ground Forces, Navy, and Air Force. There are also three independent arms of service : Strategic Missile Troops, Military Space Troops, and the Airborne Troops. The Troops of Air Defence, the former Voyska PVO, have been subordinated into the Air Force since 1998. The Armed Forces as a whole seem to be traditionally referred to as the Army (armiya), except in some cases, the Navy.
The Ground Forces are divided into six military districts: Moscow, Leningrad (not St Petersburg), North Caucausian, Privolzhsk-Ural, Siberian and Far Eastern. The name Leningrad remains for the district in the north-west of Russia in honour of the estimated 1.5 million who gave their lives during the German siege of the city in 1941-44. The Transcaucasus Group of Forces is part of the North Caucasus Military District.
The Navy consists of four fleets:
* Baltic Fleet (HQ at Baltiysk in the enclave of Kaliningrad Oblast).
* Pacific Fleet (HQ at Vladivostok).
* Northern Fleet (HQ at Severomorsk).
* Black Sea Fleet (HQ at Sevastopol, Ukraine. (In 2005, the Ukrainian government agreed that Russia would be allowed to lease several base areas around Sevastopol until 2017.)
There is also the Kaliningrad Special Region, under the command of the Commander Baltic Fleet, which has a HQ Ground & Coastal Forces, formerly the 11th Guards Army, with a motor rifle division and a motor rifle brigade, and a fighter aviation regiment of Sukhoi Su-27 'Flanker', as well as other forces.
Russian armed forces not under the control of the Ministry of Defence include the Border Guards, Internal Troops, the Federal Security Service, the Federal Protective Service (Russia), the Federal Communications and Information Agency, and presidential guard services.
Men available and fit for the various branches of the Armed Forces were estimated to number 21 million in 2006. As of 2005, some 330,000 young men are brought into the army via conscription in two call-ups each year. Young men do everything they can to avoid conscription. Conscripts are supposed to serve for two years, but officials complain that they are able to draft less than 11% of those who are required to. Those that are actually caught by the military net meet neither health nor intelligence standards. The conscription obligation is set to be reduced to one year in 2008. Russian officials say that they plan to achieve a 70% volunteer force by that year. However, well-respected military journalist Alexander Golts says that 'military officials anticipate that only 15% of the armed forces will be staffed by volunteers by 2008'. Golts says instead that top officials plan to use kontractniks to fill the 'demographic hole' that is anticipated to open between 2006 and 2008, due to population decline. Eighty-eight Ministry of Defense units have been designated as permanent readiness units and are expected to become all-volunteer by end 2007; these include most air force, naval, and nuclear arms units, as well as all airborne and naval infantry units, most motorized rifle brigades, and all special forces detachments.
From 2004, alternative service is being introduced for those who can prove that serving in the Armed Forces runs counter to their religious or personal beliefs. Thirty-six months service will be required of those performing alternate service in military agencies, though those with a higher education will have to serve only for 18 months.
Women also serve in the Russian military, though in far lesser numbers than men. As of 2005, there were approximately 90,000 women serving in the various branches. Women usually serve in support roles, most commonly in the fields of nursing, communications, and engineering. As of 2003, there were 138,000 contract soldiers, and while the reference is not clear, it seems that women accounted for 48 percent of that sum total.
The ranks of the Russian military are also open to non-Russian citizens of the Commonwealth of Independent States, of which Russia is the largest member. Non-Russians enlisting from these states cannot serve in elite or secret units but are in many cases entitled to Russian citizenship after their term of service.
The Russian Armed Forces still use the traditional forms of reference of Comrade to help solidify the service personel as part of something larger than themselves. During the second inauguration of Putin as President he was referred to by military officers as Comrade Commander.
Estimating Russian military expenditure is beset with difficulty; the annual IISS Military Balance has underscored the problem numerous times within its section on Russia. The 2006 Edition says that taken at face value, the 2004 budget corresponds to 2.5% of GDP, and with the inclusion of other military spending in different budget sections, it reaches just over 4%. It goes on to say that translated at the market exchange rate, this would amount to $23.6 billion. 'By simple observation.. this would appear to be lower than is suggested by the size of the armed forces or the structure of the military-industrial complex, and thus neither of the figures is particularly useful for comparative analysis'.
While noting that Purchasing power parity methods have significant limitations, using the World Bank PPP rate the IISS estimates that Russia's total military-related expenditure would measure US $61.5 billion in 2004. Note the significant discrepancy that figure creates with the Globalsecurity.org figure in the table above - probably derived by a market exchange rate calculation of the official budget.
According to Russian reports, in FY 2002, there was about a 40% increase in arms procurement spending. However, even this increase is not enough to make up for the budget shortfalls of the previous decade. Russia's struggling arms producers will therefore intensify their efforts to seek sales to foreign governments.
About 70% of the former Soviet Union's defense industries are located in the Russian Federation. A large number of state-owned defense enterprises are on the brink of collapse as a result of cuts in weapon orders and insufficient funding to shift to production of civilian goods, while at the same time trying to meet payrolls. Many defence firms have been privatized; some have developed significant partnerships with firms in other countries.
In 2006, Russia announced plan to spend about $200 billion in development and production of military equipment (what equals to about $400 billion in PPP dollars).
Russian military doctrine has called for the reliance on the country's strategic nuclear forces as the primary deterrent against attack by a major power (such as NATO forces or the People's Republic of China). In keeping with this, the country's nuclear forces received adequate funding throughout the late 1990s, to a great degree during Igor Sergeyev's term as Minister of Defence. Sergeyev was the former commander of the Strategic Rocket Forces, which is responsible for Russia's nuclear weapons that are land based. (The Navy control submarine missiles and the Air Force the small nuclear-armed bomber force.) Meanwhile the rest of the military was cash-starved and decaying. Russia currently, with around 16,000 warheads possesses the largest stockpile of nuclear warheads. The number of intercontinental ballistic missiles and warheads on active duty has declined over the years, in part in keeping with arms limitation agreements with the U.S. and in part due to insufficient spending on maintenance, but this is balanced by the deployment of new missiles as proof against missile defences. The ICBMs it has available would be more than sufficient to cause great damage, thus serving as a credible deterrent. Russia possesses new SS-27 Topol-M missiles that are stated to be able to easily penetrate any missile defence on the planet, including the U.S. National Missile Defense. The missile can change course in both air and space. It is projected to be launched from mobile Topol-M units and submarines. Russian nuclear forces are confident that they can carry out a successful retaliation strike if attacked.
Because of international awareness of the danger of Russian nuclear technology falling into the hands of terrorists or rogue officers who might want to use it to threaten or attack the West, the United States Department of Defense and other agencies have provided considerable financial assistance to the Russian nuclear forces in recent years. This money went in part to finance decommissioning of warheads under bilateral agreements, but also to improve security and personnel training in Russian nuclear facilities. This may be one of the reasons why no terrorist nuclear incidents have so far occurred in the world despite the existence of many terrorist organizations and rogue states' intelligence services who would have been interested in acquiring nuclear technology from Russia.
Since the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russia has discussed rebuilding a viable, cohesive fighting force out of the remaining parts of the former Soviet armed forces. A new Russian military doctrine, promulgated in November 1993, acknowledges the contraction of the old Soviet military into a regional military power without global imperial ambitions. In keeping with its emphasis on the threat of regional conflicts, the doctrine calls for a Russian military that is smaller, lighter, and more mobile, with a higher degree of professionalism and with greater rapid deployment capability. Such a transformation has proven difficult, not least because - even shorn of worldwide ambitions - the sheer scale of Russia's land borders makes even a defensive military posture an immense undertaking.
The challenges of carrying out reforms and modernizing have been magnified by difficult economic conditions in Russia, which have resulted in reduced defence spending. This has led to training cutbacks, wage reductions, and severe shortages of housing for other social amenities for military personnel, with a consequent lowering of morale, cohesion, and fighting effectiveness.
One of the more unorthodox ways in which the command authorities have sought to compensate for poor conditions and morale is through an annual beauty contest in which female soldiers compete for the title of "Miss Russian Army".
There are also widespread problems in the Russian military of hazing incidences, known as Dedovshchina and other forms of bullying against first-year draftees by second-year draftees, a practice that was common in the Soviet Union and continues to be in the militaries of former Soviet republics. Attempts to stop the abuse has largely failed in large part due to apathy held by both poorly paid and housed junior and senior officers.
In 2005 Russia's spendings on new military weapons surpassed overseas sales, which were about US$6.5 billion. For 2006, there is about $9 billion budget for military equipment purchases. Cost of production of comparable weapons in Russia is three to five times less than in the United States.
When Putin officially assumed the presidency in 2000, the state of the Russian military remained much the same as it did when the Soviet Union collapsed. Many of the weapons and equipment used by the armed forces were nearly a decade old, but reliable and powerful, such as the AK-74 and the Dragunov Sniper Rifle, and wouldn't really need to be replaced soon. Corruption was also a problem, seen among both officers and enlisted men. During the First Chechen War, the Russian military had insufficient funds to purchase more up-to-date military equipment, such as the Kamov Ka-50 "Black Shark" attack helicopter. Paratroopers were also unable to adequately train jumping due to a lack of fuel for planes. Putin, realizing these shortcomings, characterized the Russian military as "an unwieldy and extravagant military machine." At the time, military and law enforcement expenditures were accounting for more than a third of the country's budget. Early in his first term, Putin sought to reduce the military size by up to 30%. Putin also sought to improve and better organize the command structure of the 12 individual agencies that maintained their own establishments in 2002.