|RUSSIA SHOULD RENEW ITS NUCLEAR
MOSCOW. (Military commentator Alexander Bogatyryov for
As everyone knows, the level of technical equipment
determines the army’s combat readiness. Until now, Russia’s limited
resources prevented it from overhauling military equipment, most of which
was developed over 20 years ago.
However, the situation has been
gradually improving, and increased defence spending has largely
facilitated Moscow’s efforts to supply its Armed Forces with modern
weaponry and equipment.
Michael Maples, director of the Pentagon’s
Defence Intelligence Agency, recently said the Russian Army’s combat and
theater-level training is now at its highest since the break-up of the
Soviet Union. The United States is somewhat concerned because the Russian
Defence Ministry is focusing on rearmament, modernisation of available
weapons and efforts to revive the defence industry. This only proves that
the Russian Armed Forces have now started improving.
On February 7,
Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov
addressed the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, at the Government
Hour and said his Ministry would receive 821 billion rubles ($30.98
billion, or €23.87 billion) in 2007. This is a great improvement on 2001,
when Russia’s defence budget stood at just over 214 billion rubles ($8.08
billion, or €6.22 billion).
Russian defence spending still accounts for
3% of the country’s GDP. The Armed Forces are spending more on
development, and this trend will persist in the future. Such allocations,
which totaled about 44% of the defence budget in 2006, will increase to
50% by 2011. Most of this money will be used to buy large batches of
weaponry and military equipment.
The 2007 state defence order
stipulates 300 billion rubles ($11.32 billion, or €8.72 billion), of which
over 144 billion rubles ($5.43 billion, or €4.19 billion) will be spent on
the acquisition of new weapons.
For instance, the Armed Forces are to
buy 17 inter-continental ballistic missiles, four spacecraft and four
launch vehicles. There are plans to re-equip one Strategic Air Command
squadron, six Air Force and helicopter squadrons, as well as seven tank
and 13 motorized-rifle battalions.
There are also large allocations for
purchasing, repairing and upgrading telecommunications and troop-control
systems, artillery pieces and anti-tank guided missiles, airborne infantry
fighting vehicles and other motor vehicles.
As for long-term prospects,
the 2007-2015 State Armament Programme, due to receive almost 5,000
billion rubles ($188.68 billion, or €145.35 billion), stipulates for a
complete re-equipment of Russia’s strategic nuclear forces. The Defence
Ministry plans to commission 34 silo-based missile launchers and command
centres and 66 mobile Topol-M ICBM systems, as well as to increase the
number of strategic bombers.
The Strategic Air Command is to operate a
total of 50 Tupolev Tu-160 Blackjack and Tu-95 Bear missile
There are plans to build and commission up to eight Mk
955/955A strategic missile submarines, to develop space-based
reconnaissance, telecommunications, data-relay, mapping, surveying,
early-warning and troop-control systems.
It is intended to complete
launch facilities for orbiting Angara and Soyuz-2 rockets, to fully
restore the early-warning radar configuration, and to boost the Air
Defence Force’s combat potential by 20%.
The Russian Army is to fully
re-equip 40 tank battalions, 97 motorized-rifle and 50 paratrooper
battalions. Five missile brigades are to receive state-of-the-art
Iskander-M tactical missile systems. Two multiple-launch rocket system
(MLRS) regiments are to get the revamped Uragan (Hurricane)-1M
In addition, 116,000 motor vehicles will be purchased.
Navy is to receive 31 new warships.
In all, about 45% of available Army
and Navy military equipment will be replaced under the new armament
The incipient Federal Agency for the Procurement of Weapons,
Military and Specialised Equipment and Material Resources is to play an
important part in this process.
The reorganised Defence Industry
Commission now oversees both the Defence Ministry and Russia’s defence
industry with good results. This concept has improved coordination between
military-equipment suppliers and their clients.
Sergei Ivanov discussed
military development and its prospects, efforts to improve the
combat-training system, and to enhance the social security of military
personnel and their families. He also spoke on the Defence Ministry’s
interaction with different public organisations.
It is obvious that
Russia’s theoretical opponents are worried about its enhanced defence
capability, but this only confirms the fact that Ivanov’s statements are
not a mere assertion.
At the same time, it should be noted that Russia
spends a lot on defensive weapons and equipment in line with its military
doctrine. Consequently, the West should not fear Russia’s upgraded defence
potential because this, rather than a reversion to the Cold War, matches
common security interests.
But practical experience shows that some
Western politicians would like to see Russia as a theoretical rival,
rather than a strategic partner.