told senior officers on Monday that the armed forces are not up to the job. Morale, discipline and technical competence are lacking, he said, and the number of senior commanders with battlefield experience “can be counted on one hand.” The top leadership suffers from “inertia” and poor education, while the Ministry of Defense is hidebound and bureaucratic. The condition of the army rules out a policy of “victory at any cost” in Chechnya, Putin said, implying a long struggle yet in the campaign that began in October 1999.

A few days earlier General