The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) has painted a dismal picture of the Russian army, concluding that despite Boris Yeltsin’s reelection the "decline in capability in all departments of the Russian armed forces seems set to continue." In its annual report on the world’s armed forces, released yesterday, the highly respected institute also discounted Moscow’s avowed plans to adopt a new military doctrine based on rapid reaction forces. It observed that "organizational changes to develop more mobile formations… have not been put into effect," and described training and equipment levels as inadequate to carry out sophisticated operations." The report also said that Moscow’s poor military performance in Chechnya reflected such weaknesses, and it argued that Russian forces can now hope only "to contain rebel military actions" and "try to retain control of the larger population centers" in the war-torn Caucasus republic.
While the IISS report estimated that military expenditure in Russia had fallen by about 45 percent since 1992, to approximately $82 billion, it noted that Russia nevertheless retained the second largest military budget in the world after the U.S. The report did, moreover, see a few signs of life in the Russian military. Strategic nuclear forces were said to have been kept at operational readiness, and a rise in naval activities was noted. Speaking at a news conference yesterday, IISS deputy director Rose Gottemoeller also suggested that warnings of an impending mutiny by Russian soldiers exaggerated the level of dissatisfaction in the army, and stemmed in part from efforts by some military leaders — including Aleksandr Lebed — to influence Russia’s military budget debate. "There are no signs that troops will drive into the Kremlin in tanks," she said. "Russia is not facing a planned mutiny." (Reuter, AP, October 9)
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