The dissolution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics or Soviet Union did not prevent political leaders to unify the Soviet Armed Forces. Defence Minister Yevgeny Shaposhnikov, the last defence minister of the Soviet Union, was designated commander of the Commonwealth of Independent States in 1991. The Armed Forces of the Russian Federation took the place of the Soviet Armed Forces. It was placed under the control of the Russian Defence Ministry which was created by Boris Yeltsin in 1992.
As of 2010, the Russian Armed Forces consisted of more than 1 million active troops and over 2 million reserves and former conscripts. Before the end of 2013, the Russian military has reached roughly 80 percent of the compulsory manpower. Russia supposedly allocated just about $72 billion on weaponry in 2011. In fact, the Russia government is looking forward to step up military spending until the end of 2014.
The Russian Federation’s Ministry of Defence sits as the administrative body of the Armed Forces. During the USSR’s tenure, it was the General Staff which supervised the Russian military organization. The role of the General Staff has been relegated to that of being strategic planner for the department. The Russian armed forces are composed of the ground forces, navy and air force. Independent arms of service include the airborne troops, strategic missile command and aerospace defence forces. Meanwhile, the Air Defence Troops, which used to be the Soviet Air Defence Forces, were integrated into the Air Force in 1998.
In 2010, ground forces including the Navy and Air Force were spread out among the Western, Eastern, Southern, and Central Military Districts. Said districts also make up four Joint Strategic Commands. The Navy is comprised of one flotilla and four fleets which are the Northern, Baltic, Black Sea, Pacific, and Caspian Flotilla.
Young men with ages from 18 to 27 are recruited into the armed forces by way of conscription for a term of one year service. The Armed Forces is a combination of contract and conscript forces. A reserve force is ready to reinforce permanent readiness forces if these are not capable of suppressing an armed conflict. In 2003, the Russian parliament approved a law that would have allowed the armed forces to use the services of foreign nationals (contract basis) by offering them Russian citizenship after several years of service. However, until 2010, foreigners could only serve in the military after securing Russian passports.
Defence spending continues to increase after it was announced that in 2005, military expenses reached $32.4 billion. According to approximation, overall Russian defence expenditure is now second to the United States. Former Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin declared four years ago that the defence budget was expected to go beyond $50 billion annually.
The new defence minister (Anatoliy Serdyukov), who took over from Yevgeny Shaposhnikov, declared a massive structural reorganisation in 2009. One of the major reforms being undertaken is to reduce the strength of the armed forces to one million soldiers until 2016. It will also cut down the number of officers and downgrade the size of the military’s central command. Cadre strength formations will be abolished and restructured into reserve units. The army will be reorganised into a brigade system while the air force will become an air base system. There will be a mode of centralised officer training reducing the 65 military schools into 10 military training centres. Russia is planning to boost annual defence expenditures by 59 percent which is nearly $97 billion in 2015 from merely $61 billion in 2012.
The state defence organization was modified under the term of President Putin. Procurement of contemporary weaponry became the government’s priority in the aftermath of the Chechnya uprising. The two priority directions were assignments for nuclear deterrence forces and acquisition of traditional armaments which included guided missiles. The latest measures geared towards rebuilding of the Armed Forces were brought about by Russia's economic recovery. These were caused by the increase of oil and gas revenues together with the growth of the domestic market.
At present, the military is in the midst of a vital equipment upgrade. The government is expected to allot some $200 billion (what equals to about $400 billion for the development and production of military equipment until 2015. This is covered by the State Armament Program (2007 – 2015). This has been modified recently and extended up to 2020. With more than $650 billion apportioned to purchase of new hardware within the next decade, the objective is to achieve a growth of 30 percent for modern equipment in the army, navy and air force by 2015 and 70% percent by 2020. The Russian Defence Ministry plans to obtain 250 Inter Continental Ballistic Missiles, 800 combat aircraft, 1,200 helicopters, 44 submarines, 36 frigates, 28 corvettes, 18 cruisers, 24 destroyers, and six aircraft carriers.
Since the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia has undergone a rocky transition toward democracy and a free-market economy. The end of Soviet-era price controls and state-controlled economic planning has created havoc for consumers and for businesses that have suddenly been forced to compete on an open market. Pro-reform President Boris Yeltsin, who led Russia from 1990 to 1999, found that his government was unable to effectively collect taxes, in part because of large-scale embezzlement by corrupt bureaucrats and organized-crime syndicates.
Employees of the government and of many state-run industries now go unpaid for months. Health services have also deteriorated -- the life expectancy of the average Russian has actually declined since the fall of the Soviet Union. Such conditions have created an atmosphere of general social discontent in the new Russia, and some analysts fear that this climate may lead to a return to Communist rule.
Falling standards of living and rampant crime did help Russia\'s communists regain some political influence by the mid-1990s. Nonetheless, Yeltsin was able to win reelection in July 1996 and to hold onto power until the end of 1999, when he resigned and named Vladimir Putin acting president. Putin, who was elected president in March 2000, has pledged his support for the rule of law and market reforms. However, Western observers have adopted a \"wait-and-see\" attitude toward the new president, who has been accused of harboring autocratic tendencies.
Also of great concern to \"Russia watchers\" is the former Soviet Union\'s enormous nuclear arsenal. Russia has signed pacts to dismantle many of its warheads and has cooperated with the U.S. in monitoring the agreements. At the same time, however, the Russian military has been decimated by budget cuts, and many analysts fear that Russia could become lax in protecting its nuclear stockpile from potential theft by terrorists. Meanwhile, U.S. and European leaders have inched slowly toward agreements that would allow Russia to cooperate on military and security issues with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Another source of tension between the West and Russia is the ongoing war in the secessionist republic of Chechnya. Russian forces in December 1994 invaded Chechnya, which had declared its independence following the collapse of the Soviet Union. After a year-and-a-half of fighting, a cease fire agreement was signed but the issue of Chechen independence was left unresolved. Fighting flared up again in Chechnya in July 1999 when Islamic militants seized a number of villages in neighboring Dagestan along the Chechen border. Russia the following month began launching air assaults against suspected rebel bases, and in September 1999 Russian troops invaded Chechnya. By February 2000, Groznyk, the Chechen capital, was under Russian control.
Western governments have criticized Russia\'s campaign in Chechnya, citing reports of human rights abuses in detention camps for Chechen civilians, the bombing of Grozny while civilians were still present, and Russian refusal to allow foreign reporters into the region.
Key Recent Stories:
2000: Russian Submarine Sinks in Barents Sea, Killing All 118 Aboard - A Russian navy nuclear submarine in August sank in the Barents Sea off the northern coast of Russia during a military exercise. The submarine, the Kursk, sank following two explosions that breached its hull, according to officials, and all 118 crew members died. The accident was the worst Russian peacetime naval disaster in history.
Putin Elected Russian President - Acting President Vladimir V. Putin in March won the presidency outright in Russian elections, three months after assuming the post from former President Boris N. Yeltsin.
Russia: Rebels Chased Out of Chechen Capital - Acting President Vladimir Putin in February declared that the Russian military had captured Grozny, the capital of the breakaway republic of Chechnya, from Chechen militants.
1999: Russian President Yeltsin Steps Down; Premier Putin Named Acting President - Russian President Boris N. Yeltsin in December announced his resignation, naming Premier Vladimir Putin acting president. Yeltsin made the unexpected announcement in an address broadcast at noon Moscow time over Russian national television.
Voters Back Centrists in Russian Election - Russian voters favored centrist and pro-government parties over left- and right-wing parties in December elections to the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament. Incomplete official results projected that the pro-government bloc Unity, backed by Premier Vladimir Putin--together with the centrist coalition Fatherland-All Russia and the pro-government Union of Right-Wing Forces--gained over 44% of the party-list vote.
Russia: Air Force Bombs Chechen Capital - Russian military commanders in October announced that they had established a security zone in the separatist republic of Chechnya, an achievement that they said concluded the first phase of a campaign against Islamic militants in the republic. Russian ground forces in September had entered Chechnya to secure a buffer zone that would prevent Islamic militant incursions into neighboring regions. Chechen militants had seized several villages in the region of Dagestan in August.
Russian President Yeltsin Dismisses Premier - In a move that threatened to plunge Russia into deeper political turmoil, President Boris N. Yeltsin in August 1999 dimissed Premier Sergei Stepashin and named Vladimir Putin, a loyal Yeltsin supporter and 15-year veteran of the Soviet-era KGB intelligence agency, as Stepashin\'s successor.
Russian Parliament Fails to Impeach Yeltsin - The Duma, Russia\'s lower house of parliament, voted not to launch impeachment proceedings against President Boris N. Yeltsin. Among other charges, members of the Communist Party, which dominated the Duma, had accused Yelstin of conspiring to dissolve the Soviet Union in 1991 and with starting the war in Chechnya. However, the Duma failed to garner the two-thirds majority vote needed to impeach the president.
Russian President Yeltsin Dismisses Premier - President Boris N. Yeltsin dismissed Yevgeny M. Primakov as premier in May 1999, saying that Primakov\'s political \"caution\" had left Russia \"marking time in the economy\" and was \"beginning to cause damage.\" Some observers suggested that Yeltsin had grown suspicious of Primakov\'s ties to his Communist opponents in the Duma, which, at the time of Primakov\'s dismissal, was set to begin an impeachment debate on Yeltsin. Yeltsin nominated Interior Minister Sergei Stepashin, a Yeltsin loyalist, to replace Primakov.
1998: Russian Parliament Confirms Primakov as Premier; Communists Named to High-Level Posts - The State Duma, the lower house of Russia\'s parliament, confirmed a compromise candidate, former Foreign Minister Yevgeny M. Primakov, as the country\'s new premier, ending a three-week-long period of political paralysis in the face of a collapsing economy.
1997: Russia: Telecom, Nickel Firms Privatized - Russian business magnates accused the government of favoritism in the privatization of two of the country\'s largest firms.
Russia Agrees to NATO Expansion...Nuclear Deployment Limited - Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny M. Primakov and Javier Solana Madariaga, secretary general of NATO, reached agreement on a new treaty that would permit NATO to incorporate Central and Eastern European States into the alliance.
Clinton, Yeltsin Meet at Summit in Finland - Yeltsin and U.S. President Clinton sought to reach an accord on the expansion of the NATO into former Soviet-bloc countries in Eastern Europe. Many Russians viewed such expansion as a threat to their security.
Maskhadov Wins Chechen Election - Aslan Maskhadov, the newly elected president of the separatist Russian republic of Chechnya, vowed to fight for full recognition by Russia of Chechnya\'s independence.
1996: Yeltsin Undergoes Heart Surgery - President Boris N. Yeltsin underwent a multiple- bypass operation.
Yeltsin Fires Russian Security Chief Lebed - Yeltsin dismissed Gen. Aleksandr Lebed, his top security adviser, as a result of a feud with other cabinet ministers. Interior Minister Anatoly Kulikov had accused Lebed of plotting a military coup.
Lebed Signs Chechen Accord - Lebed signed an agreement with the commander of Chechen secessionist troops halting the conflict in the Russian region after 21 months.
Yeltsin Sweeps to Win in Russian Presidential Runoff Vote - The story includes a photograph of Yeltsin and biographies of Yeltsin and his communist opponent, Gennadi Zyuganov.
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