Commanders of Russia’s ground forces have reportedly reacted bitterly to preliminary Defense Ministry plans for additional manpower reductions in the ground forces. A Russian daily described as "turbulent" an April 25 meeting at which the proposed cuts were discussed. Commander in Chief of Russian Ground Forces General Vladimir Semenov complained that his forces had already been cut five times since 1992 and that a sixth cut could "undermine Russia’s war-fighting capabilities." The newspaper said that the authorized strength of the ground forces is 511,000, while actual strength has risen from 350,000 early last year to about 410,000. It is now being proposed that authorized strength be reduced to 420,000. (Segodnya, April 26)
But the conflict over manpower levels, which are related to the army’s budgetary problems, are evidence of competition for increasingly scarce resources and of a shift of priorities that go beyond the Defense Ministry. According to the newspaper report, military commanders argue that too much money and manpower have been devoted to building up the forces of the internal affairs ministry, the emergency situations ministry, and the border guard. That development, however, reflects the increasing importance to the Kremlin of internal rather than external security threats.
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