Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 184

Russian Defense Minister Igor Rodionov told reporters on October 1 that it will be impossible for the military to transition to an all-volunteer force by the year 2000 as President Boris Yeltsin had directed it to do. Like most of the problems currently facing the military, the issue is one of money. According to Rodionov, the armed forces will simply lack the funding necessary even to attract enough contract volunteers to maintain a military of 1.2 million soldiers — the level it is to reach in 1997. A concrete military reform has been drawn up, he continued, but it does not envisage an all-volunteer force until the year 2005. And even this new target date will be met if-and only if-the necessary funds are provided.

In a wide-ranging press conference Rodionov ticked off a number of the most serious financial shortfalls facing his ministry: it needs 9.7 trillion rubles to feed military personnel in accordance with approved standards, but will receive only 7.6 trillion; another 9.6 trillion is required to clothe and supply the troops but only 2.6 trillion is budgeted; civilian employees will be due 13.4 trillion in wages yet only 6.8 trillion is planned in the budget. He explained that even cutting the forces costs money. To disband a motor-rifle regiment requires 48 billion rubles while the cost to maintain it for a year amounts to only 14 billion.

Rodionov could not have been more blunt when he said that if the defense budget is not corrected "Russia may lose its armed forces as an integral and viable state structure with all the consequences that this may have." Yet, he contrasted this dire warning with a remarkably sanguine judgment of the problems facing the military: "the situation is, on the whole, satisfactory, controllable and manageable." All indications are that he will need more support from the government and the Federal Assembly than his predecessor received if it is to remain that way for long. (Krasnaya zvezda, October 2, 1996)

Civilian Defense Sector Workers Prepare Protest Actions.