The Navy seems to have won a turf battle to see who will command the military forces on the Kamchatka Peninsula in the Far East. Last week, Navy commander-in-chief Admiral Vladimir Kuroyedov announced a new joint force to be created later this year, built around the strategic nuclear submarine force based near Petropavlovsk, and subordinate to the Pacific Fleet. Other local naval forces — and the region’s ground, air and air defense forces — will form part of the new joint command. Its mission, explained Kuroyedov, will be to protect the strategic submarines. He said that the new force is patterned after Russia’s only other joint command — oddly enough also under Navy leadership. This second command, operating out of the Kaliningrad Oblast, is made up of the former 11th Army and the air forces and is subordinate to the Baltic Fleet.
Far Eastern Army leaders have been none too happy with the plan. Two months ago Lieutenant General Mukhamed Batyrov — commander of Kamchatka’s 25th Army Corps, to provide the ground forces component of the new command — reportedly blasted the idea and proclaimed that "only a ground general will command troops" in the region. His superior — Far East Military District commander Colonel General Viktor Chechevatov — reportedly ordered him to stop turning over facilities to the Navy and then made an urgent trip to Moscow where he was said to have convinced the General Staff to scuttle the plan. Apparently Moscow has now had second thoughts. (Russian media, February 19-April 8)
These two efforts are but timid steps in a direction mapped out several years ago. In 1993 then Defense Minister Pavel Grachev announced that several joint territorial commands reminiscent of the Soviet TVDs would be established. The first was to have been in the Far East, encompassing the Far Eastern Military District, the Pacific Fleet and all other military forces in the region, except those belonging to the Strategic Rocket Forces. Chechevatov was touted as the first commander. The plan was put on hold in May 1994. In October of that year, however, Grachev said that it was going ahead again.
Workers’ Day of Protest Passes Peacefully.