Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 55

Russian president Boris Yeltsin signed a decree last week subordinating the airborne forces to the ground forces, a Defense Ministry source revealed on March 17. The airborne forces will remain "an independent armed service" like army aviation and army missile troops, the source added. Although the headquarters of the airborne troops said on the same day that it had not yet received the relevant implementing documents, the transfer was confirmed by Defense Minister Igor Rodionov. (Interfax, March 17, 18)

While often listed as part of the ground forces, the elite airborne troops were in fact directly subordinate to the General Staff, the minister of defense, and the president (as armed forces commander-in-chief). The resubordination has been mooted for more than 2 years. Former defense minister Pavel Grachev seemed to put the matter to rest in March 1996 when he announced that the transfer would not take place. Later in the year, however, several airborne units were subordinated to the commanders of the military districts where they were stationed, a step that provoked a strong protest from retired general Aleksandr Lebed. The Defense Ministry’s latest action is in line with a growing emphasis on "territorial" defense as the basis of Russia’s new military doctrine. Regional commands — currently the military districts — will be the key players under the new scheme.

Belarusan Authorities Clamp Down on Demonstrators.