Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 219

Government and military officials met in Moscow on November 19 at a conference on ensuring food supplies for the armed forces. As with most problems in Russia today, funding shortfalls were identified as the biggest hurdle. Deputy Economics Minister Ivan Starikov told the conference that the military had been granted 6.2 trillion rubles in the 1996 budget for feeding the troops, although it had requested 8 trillion. Thus far this year the armed forces have received less than half the allocated amount. As a result, the military had by November 1 gone into debt to its food suppliers by 2.3 trillion rubles. Starikov noted that the Defense Ministry had asked for 10 trillion rubles for food in the 1997 budget–an amount it is unlikely to receive. (Nezavisimaya gazeta, November 20, Itar-Tass, November 19)

The government hopes that centralizing all food procurement in one agency will be more economical, and has made the Agricultural Ministry’s Federal Food Corporation "fully responsible for providing food supplies" to the armed forces. It is to use only domestic sources for its purchases. (Itar-Tass, November 19) The Federal Food Corporation, however, has itself been hamstrung by underfunding since its creation two years ago. It also lacks storage facilities of its own and has been criticized for improperly managing the money it has received. (Interfax, October 31, Russia TV, October 20) As in the Soviet days, the military devotes a considerable effort to feeding itself — often at the expense of military training. The Defense Ministry manages a number of large farms, and nearly every unit engages in agricultural activities on a smaller scale. (Interfax, October 31; Russia TV, October 20)

Russia Turning Up Pressure on Sevastopol.