There was plenty of interesting media coverage of the Defense Minister’s meeting with the Duma on Wednesday, and plenty of criticism of what he said or didn’t say. Plenty worth covering in a Part II, especially regarding Serdyukov’s effort to shift the blame for another failing GOZ.
Radio Svoboda quoted KPRF deputy Vladimir Ulas putting all the blame for the army’s current state right at Anatoliy Serdyukov’s feet:
“The public clearly understands that the situation in the Armed Forces is far from favorable. Constant scandals which rock this department, the morale-psychological situation in which personnel, first and foremost, the officer corps, find themselves, both the material condition, and the lack of modern armaments – all these problems are completely real. I also hoped to hear answers to questions, how the Defense Ministry intends to solve them, from the minister. But, to my greatest regret, the biggest, in my view, problem of today’s Armed Forces is the absolutely dense incompetence of the military leadership. With people like Serdyukov still heading our Armed Forces, and he, unfortunately, is far from the only one, hoping for some kind of positive shifts is absolutely senseless.”
There was plenty more to be said about problems with the GOZ, the OPK, and the VPK and Defense Ministry blaming each other for what looks like a failing GOZ-2011.
KPRF deputy Anatoliy Lokot told Nakanune.ru:
“I have the impression that these sessions are ‘closed’ to hide the bitterness of the questions and negative results of the work of Military-Industrial Commission (VPK) and Defense Ministry leaders.”
United Russia’s Igor Barinov reiterated what he said he told President Medvedev a year ago:
“I noted then that the lack of competition and incomprehensible system of price formation in the VPK is a deadend path. We’re reaping the fruits of this now. Judge yourself: one, well, a maximum of two enterprises produce this or that type of our armament or military equipment. Meanwhile, enterprises getting money from the federal budget dispose of it as they wish. Prices simply come from the ceiling. No one bears any responsibility for quality. No one invests money in improving types of military equipment, in the end it goes that even in infantry weapons we’ve fallen behind. Our legendary automatic weapon Kalashnikov, the value of which everyone recognized before, now lags the best Western types in tactical-technical characteristics. And so it is in almost every area, with rare exceptions in the areas of missiles and some aircraft.”
“The Defense Ministry announced it won’t buy airborne combat vehicles [BMDs] and infantry combat vehicles [BMPs] from ‘Kurganmashzavod.’ This enterprise was one of the guilty in breaking the Gosoboronzakaz. And here’s the thing in this. ‘Kurganmashzavod’ is part of the United ‘Tractor Plants’ Corporation. Budget money is shared out with ‘Kurganmashzavod’ in a targeted way for the purchase of equipment, but the corporation’s directors dispose of it according to their discretion, and, naturally, BMP and BMD production is the last thing of concern for the owners of this holding company.”
“If they understand that they can be deprived of budget resources, then this enterprise will be forced to invest in quality, and in cutting defects, and in the improvement of product types. In addition, strict supervision is needed. Money was allocated but no one asked anyone about this money, and the result was zero.”
The KPRF’s Lokot also dwelled on the GOZ:
“It’s obvious that if the Gosoboronzakaz isn’t formed in the first half of the year, then nothing will be accomplished in the remaining part of the time since money will only begin coming in at the end of the year. Serdyukov acknowledged that today 13.4% of all contracts in the plan have been formed. Some time ago, Sergey Ivanov gave us other numbers. But I think that this number juggling was caused by competition between the Defense Minister and the Military-Industrial Commission. Ivanov lumps all the blame on the Defense Ministry, Serdyukov – on the defense-industrial complex. He even began his [Duma] speech with this, saying that the military-industrial complex is guilty of everything. They have poor qualifications, technology losses, poor production and so forth. But really at a minimum the Defense Ministry itself bears 50% percent of the responsibility for such a situation.”
“I have given the example of Novosibirsk proving the obvious guilt of the Defense Ministry in breaking the order. One of the enterprises – the Lenin Factory, which puts out very important products for infantry weapons, became a victim of Defense Ministry officials. In January this year, Serdyukov opened a state order tender with his signature, but closed it in March. Now half the year is gone, and there are no results. The enterprise isn’t working, products aren’t coming out, 211 million rubles spent on reequipping won’t bring any returns, and now they’re generally talking about cutting part of the work force.
“Right in Novosibirsk at the Comintern Factory the S-400 surface-to-air missile system is being produced on the enterprise’s own money, and not with government resources. Serdyukov says: ‘I don’t see anything terrible in this, let the enterprise do it on its own money.’ But where does it get its capital resources? What world is Serdyukov living in?”
Vedomosti talked to a former Defense Ministry official who basically said the threat of arms purchases abroad really didn’t scare anyone. And, according to him, although Serdyukov considers defense industry leaders lazy and prone to stealing, everyone understands imports can never replace domestic production. Finally, a source close to the PA told the business daily that Serdyukov himself opposes the Mistral acquisition because of the large expenditures required to build its base infrastructure.