Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 32

Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin told Russian legislators yesterday that the country’s Defense Council would make some "fundamental decisions" on the future of the armed forces at its next meeting. "It is high time we stopped talking about military reform and started implementing it," Chernomyrdin was quoted as saying. Despite that pledge, however, the prime minister was able to be no more specific on the date of the next Defense Council meeting than to say that "Boris Yeltsin will be able to convene [it] in the near future." (Itar-Tass, February 12)

That admission underlined once again the extent to which Yeltsin’s absence from the Kremlin has hamstrung Russia’s latest military reform effort. The Defense Council meeting was originally scheduled to take place on January 8, but was postponed following reports that Boris Yeltsin had come down with a cold. That illness proved, of course, to be double pneumonia, and rumors of a deep division between Russia’s Defense Ministry and Defense Council over the military reform program have festered since that time, leading most recently to speculation that Defense Minister Igor Rodionov might soon be removed from his post (See Monitor, January 7, February 11-12) Kremlin press spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky denied that rumor on February 11, and suggested also that Yeltsin was hard at work studying a report submitted by Rodionov. Although Yastrzhembsky did not specify, it seems probable that the report in question was a document drafted by