Little progress has been made of late in reorganizing the armed forces in accordance with the program announced last year by Russian defense minister, Marshal Igor Sergeev. At the same time, new senior military appointments appear to have been put on hold. Gen. Petr Deinekin, fired a month ago as head of the Air Force following the crash of a military cargo plane in Irkutsk, remains at his post. (Russian media, January 14) Although the headquarters of the Ground Forces was to have been eliminated last September, the Defense Ministry has just gotten around to forming the supervisory bodies that are to replace it, and have put interim appointments in charge. Col. Gen. Yury Bukreev has been named temporary head of the new ground troops’ Main Directorate, while Col. Gen. Anatoly Golovnev will have a similar mandate in the Main Directorate for Combat Training. These two new offices and several other departments were to have been supervised by a new deputy minister of defense — a position yet to be filled. (Krasnaya zvezda, January 13)
Such delays stem from a failure by the highest political leadership to sign off on the military’s reform plans. These plans are in principle being considered by a Defense Council commission headed by Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. Last month Andrei Kokoshin — the new presidential Chief Military Inspector and also secretary of the Defense Council — indicated that work on drafting a concept for military reform might be finished within 2 to 3 months. (Itar-Tass, December 8) One Russian newspaper has speculated that substantive military reform has been blocked because civilian leaders fear that the military’s plans would concentrate too much power in the Defense Ministry. (Segodnya, January 13)
A Troubled Fleet to Regain a Cruiser.