Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 69

The commander in chief of the Russian Air Force, Col. General Pyotr Deinekin, was quoted April 6 as saying that Russia requires the creation of special reconnaissance-and-strike groups — composed of spy planes, assault aircraft, bombers and fighter-bombers — in order to deal more effectively with local, Chechnya-style conflicts inside Russia. "It is particularly difficult to launch strikes on bandit formations in population centers, whose civilians and dwellings must not be affected," he said, adding that careful study of the use of reconnaissance-and-strike groups should precede their creation. (Interfax, April 6) Deinekin’s remarks were revealing both for their implicit admission that Russia’s "surgical strikes" in Chechnya have been anything but that, and because they suggested that the military leadership may anticipate having to conduct additional localized military operations in other parts of the Russian Federation.

In other remarks, Deinekin warned that the current underfinancing of the air force could lead to a 25 percent reduction in its size by the end of the decade. He said that aviation accounts for only 15-17 percent of the defense budget and urged that allocations be increased by 7-8 percent. He also portrayed Russian aviation as heavily outgunned by U.S.-led regional military groupings in Europe and Asia, and, for some reason, by the combined air forces of the United States, Pakistan, Iran, and Saudi Arabia.

The Army and the Election.