Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 106

Yeltsin elaborated somewhat on earlier remarks dealing with military reform. He strongly suggested that Russia’s armed forces would be cut further — o make them "more compact and more battle-worthy" — and that the Defense Ministry’s and the General Staff’s respective roles would be clarified. The former is to look more to military-technical matters while the latter will be tasked with managing the troops. Along with maintaining the country’s nuclear deterrent, Yeltsin said that the military leadership would focus on developing its means of information warfare and on deploying high precision weaponry. He intimated that state and civilian control over the armed forces will be increased in accordance with Russia’s transition to a democratic society.

Of particular interest, Yeltsin suggested that increased defense spending would be devoted not to troop maintenance (e.g., salaries and benefits), but to military research and development, improving the army’s equipment, and modernizing its weaponry. (Interfax, May 31) Coming on the heels of a series of measures aimed at propping up Russia’s defense enterprises, Yeltsin’s comments suggest that the balance of influence within the political elite may be shifting back from the uniformed military to the defense industrialists, as was true of the Soviet period. That conclusion is also suggested by Yeltsin’s proposals for a smaller and an all-volunteer army, each of which has generally been opposed by the top brass.

Russia Reaches Agreement on CFE.