Russian defense minister Igor Rodionov warned on October 25 that chronic under-financing has created a crisis situation in the armed forces and intimated that it could lead to a loss of political control over Russia’s soldiers. On a day when President Boris Yeltsin called for an end to Kremlin in-fighting, Rodionov said to a meeting of Russian veterans that the funding arrears are "taking the armed forces to the brink of undesirable, and even uncontrollable developments." The Russian Army General also said that social conditions for Russian military personnel have become especially intolerable, and he cautioned that a failure to increase defense spending in the 1997 state budget could lead to a breakdown of the armed forces "as an integral and active state structure." Rodionov claimed that the level of defense spending contained in the current draft budget would cover only one-third of the army’s essential needs. He also restated his now familiar argument that budgetary funds need to be freed up by subjecting Russia’s other "power structures" to the same sort of restructuring and down-sizing planned for the regular army. (Interfax, Itar-Tass, Reuter, AP, October 25)
Prior to being sacked on October 18, former Russian security chief Aleksandr Lebed had issued dire warnings of an imminent "mutiny" by disgruntled military personnel, but Rodionov had downplayed the danger at that time. (See Monitor, September 26, October 2) His remarks on October 25, however, came as the Duma moved to discuss the revised 1997 budget, and Rodionov may be hoping that his alarmist remarks will influence that debate in favor of the army. The draft budget allocates approximately $18 billion for military spending for 1997. In addition to winning an increase in that figure, Rodionov is also aiming to recover funding earmarked for, but not received by the army in 1996. More than $1 billion has recently been set aside to finance military reform.
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