Russia’s Superpower Delusions

Russian paratroopers celebrating 60th anniversary of the Great Patriotic War, May, 9, 2005

From Alexander Golts, Moscow Times:  Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin has finally gotten his wish: Russian science has overtaken every other country by apparently figuring out how to clone a fully grown 18-year-old youth. How else would you explain President Vladimir Putin’s recent order to Defense Ministry brass that the army should be fully staffed at 1 million men within two years?

The military would have to draft 600,000 conscripts annually to have 1 million men in uniform. That is the same number of men who turn 18 each year, and some sources predict the number will fall to as low as 470,000 within the next two years. That means every single 18-year-old male would have to be corralled into the army, including those with physical disabilities and chronic illnesses — and even that wouldn’t be enough to reach the magic one-million mark. The only way around the problem would be to clone healthy 18-year-olds as quickly as possible.

The only real way to fulfill Putin’s order is if the Defense Ministry fudged the numbers. That would explain why the ministry reacted favorably to the announcement by several college presidents that they agree to let students do a three-month stint in the army without interrupting their studies.

Putin’s other requirements for the military would also take a miracle to fulfill. At the same meeting with the top brass, Putin ordered that modern weapons comprise 70 percent to 100 percent of all arms by 2020. But considering that modern weaponry represents only 20 percent of the current total and that assembly line production of the new systems has yet to begin, Putin would need a magician to pull that one out of the hat. It is all the more unrealistic considering that 60 percent of current weapons orders are plagued by violations of various types, according to the Defense Ministry, thus delaying delivery times even further. . . .

Russian authorities haven’t completely lost touch with reality. In fact, nobody is planning to ensure the security of the country with the aid of students who would serve one summer in the army. [Defense Minister Sergei] Shoigu has confirmed that the army will be able to sign up 425,000 professional soldiers by 2017. Some of them will be assigned to the airborne troops that are slated to become a wholly professional branch of the military. Vladimir Shamanov, head of the country’s airborne forces, has proudly announced that he has been charged with forming 22 battalions — at least two divisions — of contract servicemen in the near future. The hope is that these rapid deployment forces should secure victory in local conflicts. Only Russia’s nuclear forces would be capable of deterring a more serious opponent.

Alexander Golts is deputy editor of the online newspaper Yezhednevny Zhurnal. (photo: ITAR-TASS)  (via Real Clear World)

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