Yeltsin did not neglect the uniformed portion of Russia’s military complex yesterday. He told a meeting of senior commanders that the West remained a military threat to Russia and that NATO enlargement was part of a broader push by the West to consolidate its world leadership. Yeltsin also lauded current military leaders — including embattled defense minister Pavel Grachev — saying that he was "satisfied on the whole" with their performance.
But Yeltsin’s assessment of the tasks before the armed forces belied at least partially that praise. The Russian president said that cuts of more than one million men in the armed forces had nevertheless failed to reduce the total number of uniformed personnel in Russia, and that a lack of coordination among the various ministries and agencies commanding troops had led to a broader disintegration of combat capabilities. He called for the army to reduce its large numbers of undermanned "paper" divisions and to consolidate the armed forces into "several dozen divisions manned by professionals." Yeltsin also asked why "poorly-prepared first-year draftees" were sent to fight in Chechnya.
Yeltsin suggested he would elevate the role of the General Staff, making it responsible for coordinating military reform and the interaction between the regular army and other military agencies. He added that he would soon submit a message to the parliament on national security that would be part of a broader effort to clarify the 1993 basic provisions of Russia’s military doctrine. (Interfax & Itar-Tass, May 29)
All-Caucasus Summit Scheduled for Next Week.