Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 188

This sort of analysis raises some obvious questions. Russian political leaders have made clear–and this principle is apparently enshrined in the new security documents–that defense spending in Russia is set to rise. What is unclear is how these documents, meant to serve as guidelines for defense policy, will help the still cash-strapped Russian government prioritize its security related spending. It seems unlikely that federal authorities will be able to afford anything but token military reforms if they attempt–as did their Soviet predecessors–to meet such a wide variety of threats simultaneously.

In that same vein, the new military doctrine at least appears to do little to address mounting tensions over funding policy between Russia’s strategic and conventional forces. In recent years the Defense Ministry has tended to prioritize funding on the strategic missile troops in the belief that this would be the most cost-effective way to ensure Russia’s security in the near-term. But the continued degeneration of the country’s conventional forces, and particularly their poor equipping, has become a contentious issue since military operations began in the Caucasus. The issue has political overtones, moreover, insofar as it also reflects an attack on Defense Minister Igor Sergeev, a former strategic rocket forces commander who embodies the current emphasis on prioritizing support for Russia’s nuclear deterrent (see the Monitor, September 28).

In addition, the draft military doctrine, when taken together with recent statements by a number of senior government and defense officials, suggests that the government hopes to optimize defense spending-and improve general military capabilities–by streamlining command and procurement within the defense and security establishments. A top General Staff officer involved in drafting the military doctrine has suggested that the armed forces will be the top dog within this consolidated system (Krasnaya zvezda, October 8). But any effort to carry out this sort of streamlining is sure to meet with opposition–whether public or behind the scenes–from the independence-minded heads of Russia’s other security agencies. Indeed, the need to consolidate the operations, training, and arms acquisition policies of Russia’s disparate military and security agencies has been raised again and again over the past decade by Russian Defense Ministry officials. They have had no success in this endeavor to date, and there is no reason to believe that success will be more easily attainable today.