Russia to Parade Military as Defense Industry Decays

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), April 9, 2008 | Go to article overview

Russia to Parade Military as Defense Industry Decays


Byline: David R. Sands, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Russia next month will stage its first Red Square parade of missiles, tanks and soldiers since the Soviet times, but the country's military faces massive crises in manpower, equipment, training and strategy despite the energy revenue windfall of recent years.

A panel of U.S. and Russian defense experts yesterday painted a deeply pessimistic portrait of the state of Russia's military and defense industries, plagued by collapsing morale, inferior arms, a decaying industrial base, and deep divisions among top-level civilian and career military officials over the future.

"When you read about new deployments or overflights of U.S. ships, I believe there's quite a lot less here than meets the eye," said Eugene B. Rumer, a senior research fellow at the National Defense University's Institute for National Strategic Studies.

"Yes, they are spending more on defense, but it really does not amount to the significant strategic change of Russia's military posture that some have been led to think," he said at a briefing at the Heritage Foundation.

"This is a military in crisis; there's no other way to describe it," said Stephen Blank, a security expert at the U.S. Army War College. "And it's a crisis 17 years in the making."

Mr. Putin has adopted a more bellicose tone since taking office in 2000, aggressively prosecuting a war against separatists in Chechnya while denouncing U.S. and NATO plans to install a missile defense system in Eastern Europe and expand the alliance to former Soviet states such as Ukraine and Georgia.

Officially, the Russian defense budget is set to grow 20 percent this year to $40 billion, although some analysts say the real purchasing power of the budget will be much higher. …

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