Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 183

Amid reports of growing disgruntlement in the ranks of Russia’s armed forces, President Boris Yeltsin yesterday took steps to address the army’s worsening financial situation. During a meeting with Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin at the Central Clinical Hospital near Moscow, Yeltsin ordered the convening of a special meeting of the Cabinet in order to discuss funding problems in the armed forces. He also asked that Defense Minister Igor Rodionov chair what will be the first session of Russia’s Defense Council. (Reuter, Interfax, ORT, October 1) The Defense Council was created by Yeltsin with much fanfare on July 25. It’s stated purpose at the time was to oversee Russian military reform, but many in Moscow viewed it more as an effort to clip the wings of Security Council secretary Aleksandr Lebed. (See Monitor, July 30) A liberal Yeltsin aide, former national security advisor Yury Baturin, was named secretary of the new body. Baturin said in July that the council would likely meet for the first time in mid-September.

Yesterday’s meeting follows warnings from military leaders that mounting wage and payment arrears in the armed forces have undermined discipline and could even lead to a loss of control over military personnel. Lebed has been among those sketching the most alarmist scenarios. Last week he compared the current situation in the armed forces to that which prevailed in 1917 and warned that the military personnel could soon mutiny. (See Monitor, September 26) Although Rodionov attempted yesterday to dispel such concerns of rebellion, he did describe the situation in the army as a crisis, and he appealed publicly to Yeltsin for the government to repay the backlog of wages. (Reuter, October 1)

Rodionov Links NATO Enlargement to CFE Treaty.