Publication: Fortnight in Review Volume: 6 Issue: 15

Missile defense was also to some extent involved in the ugly row which erupted publicly on July 12 between Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeev and General Staff Chief Anatoly Kvashnin. The struggle centered on Kvashnin’s call to radically restructure Russia’s armed forces–which would involve liquidating the country’s strategic missile forces as an independent service branch and incorporating their assets into the Russian air force. The proposal appeared more than anything else to be a naked grab for power by Kvashnin and the General Staff and it was denounced in the harshest terms by Sergeev, a former rocket forces commander himself and a long-time protector of the Strategic Missile Troops. The row reflected Putin’s failure to resolve long-brewing tensions in the armed forces and particularly his equivocation over matters related to funding priorities for Russia’s strategic missile troops and the country’s bedraggled conventional forces.