PART 5: STABILITY AND SECURITY |
58. Senior Russian officials expressed to the
Committee their interest in the ESDP (European Security and Defence
Policy) as having "a very promising future." The
Committee concluded, however, that fruitful collaboration depends
upon the reform of the Russian military. Thorough reform, which
is expensive, will have to await an economic renascence. In
compelling evidence to the Committee General Shalikashvili emphasised
how devastating the cuts to Russian military capabilities had
been in the past decade. An equally sober assessment was given
by Ms. Oksana Antonenko and Colonel Langton of the International
Institute of Strategic Studies. In this they were joined by Dr
Roy Allison of the Royal Institute of International Affairs.
As a result of reduced expenditure, only 20 per cent of the equipment
is still modern. The special forces and the submarine ballistic
missile forces alone appear to have emerged relatively unscathed.
Recruitment has plummeted. Russia now has little more than one
million men under arms (such a low figure was last seen in the
USSR in the first years of Stalin's personal dictatorship). Waste
is rampant, as is corruption at the top. In the words of General
Shalikashvili: "Their training is dismal; in many cases it
is really non-existant except for the few élite units,
the airborne units and a few others, Spetsnaz. (Q552) Lack of
necessary training and the resultant use of what amount to mercenaries
on short-term contracts have had a disastrous impact on the war
in Chechnya, the appalling conduct of which the EU has condemned.
In this context former ambassador to Moscow Sir Rodric Braithwaite
characterised the army as both "brutal and incompetent."
59. Moreover, as was confirmed to the Committee
in Brussels, Russians attached to NATO have subsequently been
marginalised on returning home. Since 9/11, more effort has been
made to accommodate Russian concerns and to respond positively
to President Putin's western orientation. But this has not proved
easy. Even Russian legislators have had cause to complain at military
secrecy. Deputy Chairman of the Duma's Defence Committee Dr. Alexei
Arbatov complains that the greater part of the contents of the
military budget are still concealed from legislators.
60. It will take many years and huge expenditure
before the Russian armed forces are able to play a significant
role alongside NATO or EU armed forces in any major complex operation.
In this General Shalikashvili and former US Secretary of Defense
Dr. William Perry agreed.
Requirements encompass a change of ethos, the development of a
cadre of highly trained officers and non-commissioned officers,
a major re-equipment programme and a core of professional servicemen.
Moreover, and as a pre-condition for success of such a programme,
the Russian government will have to make a fundamental political
decision. They must decide, and perhaps decide soon, what role
they wish their armed forces to play in the new strategic environment.
40 See, for example Q552, Q290, Q288, and Q289. Back
See paragraph 14 for detail. Back
Alexei Arbatov, "Komu nuzhna voennaya taina? [Who needs military
secrecy?], Moskovskie Novosti, No 37, 24-30 September 2002. Back
See General Shalikashvili Q552, and Dr Perry Q554. Back