06MOSCOW12595, PRESIDENT PUTIN, DEFMIN IVANOV ADDRESS RUSSIAN

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW12595 2006-11-22 15:41 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO6689
PP RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #2595/01 3261541
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 221541Z NOV 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5392
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RHMFISS/CDR USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 012595 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/22/2016 
TAGS: MCAP PREL PGOV PHUM RS
SUBJECT: PRESIDENT PUTIN, DEFMIN IVANOV ADDRESS RUSSIAN 
MILITARY'S INTERNAL PROBLEMS 
 
REF: MOSCOW 12457 
 
Classified By: Minister-Counselor for Political Affairs Alice G. Wells. 
 Reasons 1.4 (B/D). 
 
1.  (C) SUMMARY:  Putin and Defense Minister Ivanov candidly 
acknowledged many of the military's internal problems during 
a 16 November senior commanders conference in Moscow.  The 
two leaders promised various remedies ranging from higher 
salaries and better treatment for soldiers to steep increases 
for military hardware.  Defense analysts praised the 
leadership's frank appraisal but remain skeptical whether the 
proposed changes will outlast the 2007-08 electoral cycle. 
END SUMMARY. 
. 
----------------------------------------- 
FRANK ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF SERIOUS PROBLEMS 
----------------------------------------- 
 
2.  (SBU) President Putin and Defense Minister Ivanov 
participated in an annual senior commanders review conference 
in Moscow 16 November.  Military commanders, chiefs of 
military districts, admirals, and heads of the Defense 
Ministry's main departments listened as the President and 
DefMin candidly addressed many of the internal challenges 
facing the military. 
 
3.  (SBU) Ivanov acknowledged hazing and abuse of conscripts, 
poor housing and working conditions, and high suicide and 
accidental death rates among soldiers.  He reported several 
positive trends; for example, incidents of hazing and 
accidental death have declined over the past year, while the 
army has increased its contacts with media, human rights, and 
other public organizations.  On the negative side, corruption 
remains a serious issue, while low-quality training and poor 
logistics management continue to plague the military.  Other 
issues that Ivanov addressed: 
 
-- The military can anticipate a significant increase in 
budgetary outlays for armaments during the 2007-15 period. 
Ivanov commented that the military could expect to receive 
five trillion rubles for hardware (roughly USD 180 billion). 
To complement the increased spending, the Ministry of Defense 
will inaugurate a new purchasing system and establish a 
federal agency, led by civilians, to supervise acquisition 
and delivery. 
 
-- Armed forces must be prepared to fight several conflicts 
simultaneously and be fully capable of operating globally, 
regionally, and locally. 
 
-- Military districts will be reorganized into joint regional 
commands or, in some cases, eliminated. 
 
-- Transformation from a conscript military to contract 
personnel will continue. 
 
-- There will be more civilian control to improve 
transparency, including support for a proposal by the Public 
Chamber to establish a Public Council under the MOD. 
 
-- Construction battalions, notorious as the vehicle of 
choice for corrupt officers to misuse military personnel, 
will be disbanded by the end of 2006.  MOD has already 
dismissed three general officers for misuse of soldiers and 
has launched investigations against three others. 
 
-- Quality of training will improve and incorporate greater 
use of computers and other information technology. 
 
-- There will be greater transparency in keeping parents 
informed of the welfare and whereabouts of their children in 
the military.  MOD will encourage military personnel to 
report instances of abuse -- "no more punishment for 
whistle-blowers." 
 
4.  (SBU) Putin focused on greater investment in military 
hardware, strengthening strategic forces, developing new 
strategic weapons, and promising steep pay raises to military 
personnel (50 percent by the end of 2008).  The 
Commander-in-Chief emphasized that Russia's armed forces 
would soon emerge from their "bare survival phase" and be 
fully capable of confronting any type of threat through a 
combination of weapons modernization and revamping of the 
personnel system. 
. 
-------------------------- 
BUT WILL REFORM TAKE HOLD? 
-------------------------- 
 
MOSCOW 00012595  002 OF 002 
 
 
 
5.  (C) Defense analysts told us that the goal of Putin and 
Ivanov was to motivate senior commanders during a difficult 
transition period.  Boris Makarenko, Deputy Director of the 
Center for Political Technologies, and Pavel Felgengauer, an 
independent analyst, were impressed with the frank 
acknowledgement of internal problems in the military but were 
less sure that the proposed solutions, especially those that 
promised to improve conditions for rank-and-file soldiers, 
would survive the 2007-08 electoral cycle. 
 
6.  (C) Felgengauer, in particular, was more pessimistic.  He 
agreed that the Russian military was badly in need of weapons 
modernization.  However, the greatest challenge that the 
military establishment faced in implementing the solutions 
proposed by Putin and Ivanov was bureaucratic inertia.  He 
welcomed the analysis of the military's internal problems and 
appreciated that the media had been permitted to publici
ze 
them, but more than rhetoric was needed to push the changes 
through a resistant senior officer corps.  Felgengauer 
emphasized that, rather than a handful of prosecutions to 
reduce corruption and misuse of soldiers, perpetrators of 
hazing incidents needed to be convicted and sentenced to 
harsher prison terms.  Otherwise, the message would not 
filter down through the ranks. 
 
7.  (SBU) A more poignant reminder of public perceptions of 
the military came from an ordinary Russian citizen.  Sitting 
next to a poloff at dinner, the middle-aged woman commented 
that conditions for today's soldiers had declined 
significantly.  She noted sadly that "even in Moscow we see 
how poorly their uniforms fit, and we can see how hungry they 
look.  This was not the case during Soviet times." 
BURNS

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