Russia’s armed forces–already troubled by falling budgets, readiness and morale, continued violence in the barracks, and a host of related maladies–may now be facing a new humiliation: an increasing inability to feed the troops. According to government officials, budgetary shortfalls have left the army unable to buy food, and mounting debts have led food suppliers in Russia’s regions to cut off deliveries to the army. The problem is not new–stories of Russian soldiers begging in the streets have become common. But recent reports suggest that the food shortages may be reaching unprecedented levels (Russian Public TV, September 13; Itar-Tass, September 14).
If Russia’s Defense Ministry is to be believed, many bakeries supplying the army last received payment sometime in the spring. Some twenty-nine of Russia’s regions have demanded that the Defense Ministry immediately clear up these debts. In some areas, the Defense Ministry says, food is simply no longer available to the army on credit. The Defense Ministry claims that the Finance Ministry’s food-related debts to the army over the first six months of this year now amount to more than 800 million rubles, and that the government’s last allocated funding–in May and June–amounted to just one-third of what was planned. No moneys for food have been received since then, the Defense Ministry says (Krasnaya zvezda, September 11).
LONDON MEETING DISCUSSES RUSSIAN ECONOMIC WOES.