Military authorities continue to tinker with the command relationship of the Ground Forces. From 1967 until the first of this year, these troops constituted one of the five services in the Russian armed forces, with their own commander in chief. When this position was abolished, responsibility for the administration and training of the Ground Forces was turned over to the heads of two main directorates of the General Staff, both supervised by Deputy Defense Minister General Vladimir Toporov. On September 5, military sources reported that acting Defense Minister Igor Sergeev had signed an order placing Chief of Staff General Anatoly Kvashnin in charge of the Ground Forces. They also indicated that a new deputy chief of staff position would be created, with the responsibility for the preparation of the ground troops. (Russian media, September 5)
The earlier demotion of the Ground Forces reflected the increased responsibility given to the commanders of the various military districts. This latest shift seems to be at least a partial step in the other direction, with responsibility for the ground troops now resting one rung higher up the military ladder.
In June there was an interesting report that General Vladimir Semenov–the last permanent commander in chief of the Ground Forces, fired by Yeltsin in April 1997–might return to the Ministry of Defense as a deputy minister serving as the chief military advisor to the minister himself. (Russian media, June 11) It will be interesting to see if Semenov is named to fill the new post mentioned in the latest order.
RUSSIANS IN BALTIC REGION HIT BY RUSSIA’S CRISIS.