Was Akhmad Kadyrov a casualty of poor planning and purchasing decisions in the Russian military? An article by Viktor Myasnikov in Nezavisimaya Gazeta on May 21 argued that the federal armed services’ failure to buy modern metal detectors is what made it impossible for Kadyrov’s bodyguards to detect the bomb that killed him on May 9.
Such detectors, which can spot copper and aluminum as well as steel, are now sold commercially all over the world, including Russia. But according to Myasnikov, the mine detectors still used by the Russian forces are essentially the same “first-generation” type as those used during World War II. For example, they can detect anti-tank mines at depths of up to only 40 centimeters; the rebel guerrillas are well aware of this and have long since adopted the practice of burying their mines deeper.
Realizing that they needed to modernize their equipment, Russian army specialists actually conducted tests in Chechnya last year. One new-model “third-generation” detector, manufactured by a Russian firm, was able to pinpoint a rebel mine planted at a depth of 1.5 meters and hidden among tin cans and other metal trash. (The bomb that killed Kadyrov was similarly hidden among the metal structural supports of Grozny’s Dinamo stadium.) But higher authorities decided not to order the new equipment, on the grounds that it was too expensive – and too complicated for Russia’s draftee soldiers to master. Thus if Myasnikov is right, the death of Kadyrov is yet another price which Russia has paid for its failure to reform and modernize its defense establishment.