Kulikov also said on January 17 that the MVD’s current troop strength is 230,000 and that the government should think carefully before making any cuts in those forces. (AP, Itar-Tass, January 17) Various military reform proposals now being considered by the Kremlin call for significant manpower reductions to be effected in military units not subordinated to the Defense Ministry. They would parallel cuts being carried out by the regular army.
The same defense reform proposals also envisage enhancing the authority of Russia’s General Staff, and granting to it a coordinating role over the activities of all of Russia’s military forces — including non-Defense Ministry troops. But the Russian minister for emergency situations, Sergei Shoigu, who also commands the country’s Civil Defense Forces, argued on January 21 that consolidating command authority in this way was unlikely to yield any beneficial results. Shoigu intimated, for example, that his own troops are already better-dressed and better-fed than those in the regular army, and suggested that any effort to centralize the supply system for all of Russia’s military forces would be detrimental to his own troops. (Itar-Tass, January 21)
The remarks by Kulikov and Shoigu are an indication of the opposition likely to be faced by Kremlin leaders should they try to extend proposed force reductions and restructuring from the regular army to Russia’s various other security forces. Yet Shoigu’s remarks hint at precisely the sort of inequities that have so angered the leaders of Russia’s cash-starved, ill-fed, and poorly-clothed regular army, and that are a part of the reason why discussion of defense reform was launched in the first place.
Luzhkov’s Claims to Sevastopol Pick Up Political Support Across Russia’s Political Spectrum.