Monthly Archives: January 2012

Cadre Changes

RIA Novosti noted yesterday the new 58th Army Commander is General-Major Andrey Gurulev.  Gurulev was previously its chief of staff.  His boss, General-Major Andrey Kartapolov also moved up to be Deputy Commander, Southern MD.

Krasnaya zvezda published a personnel decree from January 20 that somehow managed to slip past.  It included the following changes.

Relieve of duty:

  • Colonel Oleg Viktorovich Averin, Chief, Missile-Artillery Armament Service, Western MD.
  • Colonel Vyacheslav Nikolayevich Gurov, Commander, 6th Independent Tank Brigade, 20th Army.

Appoint:

  • Lieutenant Colonel Mikhail Vladimirovich Yerofeyev, Chief, Missile-Artillery Armament Service, Western MD.
  • Colonel Andrey Vladimirovich Lipikhin, Commander, 6th Air Defense Brigade.
  • Colonel Vladimir Pavlovich Omelyanovich, Commander, 6th Independent Tank Brigade, 20th Army.

Dismiss:

  • General-Lieutenant Khamit Iskarovich Kamalov.
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VDV Vets Rock Against Putin

The disparate parts of the anti-Putin movement probably couldn’t agree on much except their common desire to see the once-and-future president not win the election and a third term on March 4.

Yesterday VDV veterans from Moscow’s Akademicheskiy rayon appeared on the Internet rocking with hard-edged lyrics against Putin.  Livejournal comments indicate these guys are for real.  They were at Sakharov Square, and someone’s suggested they be on-stage at the February 4 demonstration.

Someone was kind enough to transcribe the lyrics here, and here are some English ones:

If you’re a citizen, if you’re president
There’s a law for you, there’s a prohibition for you
Don’t steal from the treasury and never lie
Be open for all, answer for your words
Eight years president and again a candidate
Look us in the eye and surrender your mandate
We believed you, but you lied many years
Employing in everything your KGB secret

You’re just like me, a man not God
I’m just like you, a man not a lout
Let’s not lie more, let’s not steal
We’re a freedom assault, the Motherland is with us
You’re a typical official, not tsar or God
For you a man is a stupid monkey
The ribbon’s color is freedom, for all positive
And only for you…a condom

I’m looking at you, at your portraits
You’re still lying to us just like your bears
We’re tired of looking at the shame of the entire country
With village poverty next to your castles
You destroyed the defense sector, and retired the army
You put it on soldiers, sent officers away
We won’t forgive all your services
We are demanding peacefully – go away tyrant

You’re just like me, a man not God
I’m just like you, a man not a lout
Let’s not lie more, let’s not steal
We’re a freedom assault, the Motherland is with us
You’re a typical official, not tsar or God
For you a man is a stupid monkey
The ribbon’s color is freedom, for all positive
And only for you…a condom

We remember our granddads who fought the SS
We remember our Guards who jumped from the sky
Berlin and Afghan remain in our heart
But the heart of One Russians is their own pocket
Nowadays honor’s not in respect, there’s no virtue
And only the systemic gleam of coins
Global materialism of machines and wimps
This is rotten systemic cynicism
They’ve forgotten culture in YeGE schools
Diplomas for money and bribes everywhere
An old man can’t be treated for free
This is the deadend of a rotten system

You’re just like me, a man not God
I’m just like you, a man not a lout
Let’s not lie more, let’s not steal
We’re a freedom assault, the Motherland is with us
You’re a typical official, not tsar or God
For you a man is a stupid monkey
The ribbon’s color is freedom, for all positive
And only for you…a condom

Of course, it loses a lot in translation.  But even if you can’t follow the original, its anger and power is palpable.

It seems to this author very unlikely Vladimir Putin will depart the scene any time soon.  But the demonstrations and the protest movement (even this song) signify that politics and activism are returning to Russia.

Longer Combat Duty

Yars in the Field

Seems like standard stuff but there might be something here.  It could be the U.S.-Russian deadlock over missile defense.  It might (somewhat ironically) be the increasing age of Russia’s mobile ICBMs.  There are probably additional or alternative explanations.

Krasnaya zvezda and Mil.ru have dedicated print recently to Russian mobile ICBMs spending more time on their combat patrol routes.

On January 18, KZ wrote that Topol, Topol-M, and Yars units from central Russia and Siberia are in the midst of exercises to implement the highest states of combat readiness and to carry out combat duty on combat patrol routes (in field positions).  Troops are conducting a number of training tasks — system calibration, engineering preparation of field positions, CCD (maskirovka), and combat security.  They also have to react to training “injects” from higher commands.

The Defense Ministry’s daily said units would be deployed to field positions for a longer period, from January 16 to February 3.  It indicated all divisions and units will also institute a new type of training this winter — a “complex practical exercise” in implementing combat readiness.

RIA Novosti’s account indicated this annual training is routine, just with more time spent in the field.

In a December 28 review of the year in RVSN, KZ reported turgidly:

“90 percent of field training measures were conducted with missile launcher regiments and battalions departing for combat patrol routes.  In the summer training period, a test of the order of conducting combat duty in the highest combat readiness states with an increased duration of mobile ground missile regiments on combat patrol routes was conducted.  This allowed for ensuring the readiness of missile launcher regiments for maneuvering actions.  All missile regiments were evaluated positively in the results of the tactical exercises.”

In mid-November, Mil.ru summarized RVSN Commander General-Lieutenant Karakayev’s comments:

“Division, unit, and sub-unit combat training was maintained at a level ensuring their capability to conduct military actions under various conditions of the situation.  A test of the order of conducting combat duty in the highest states of combat readiness with an increased duration of mobile missile regiments on combat patrol routes was conducted.”

“The training of multi-axle chassis mechanic-drivers ensured accident-free operation of nuclear weapons.  Despite the fact that currently more than 70% of missile systems are beyond the limit of their warranty periods, the technical condition, the reliability characteristics of the armaments and military equipment guaranteed maintenance of the required level of combat readiness of missile systems.”

You can find additional relevant info on RVSN combat duty and patrols here.

A Fuller Picture of the GOZ

Yars ICBM (photo: RIA Novosti / Ilya Pitalev)

It’s been customary for some time to get press information on what the Russian military expects to acquire each year.  Rare, however, are occasions when we receive a report on what they procured to compare with the plan from the year before.

This year is one of those occasions.

Why is anybody’s guess.  But the release of this information — which came from the new armaments tsar First Deputy Defense Minister Aleksandr Sukhorukov — could be a Defense Ministry weapon in its running skirmish with the OPK.  Information on how the defense sector performed could bolster the ministry’s somewhat beleaguered position on what it buys, from whom, and for how much.

RIA Novosti covered Sukhorukov’s remarks on GOZ-2011 yesterday.

According to him, in 2011, the military received 30 Topol-M and Yars ICBMs, two special designation satellites, 21 aircraft, 82 helicopters, one proyekt 22380 Steregushchiy-class corvette, and 8,500 KamAZ and Ural vehicles.

The price for GOZ-2011 was about 550 billion rubles.

Now, for comparison, in mid-March, Lenta.ru recapped Defense Minister Serdyukov’s statement to RIA Novosti on 2011 procurement plans.  He said the military planned to obtain 36 ballistic missiles, two SSBNs, 20 strategic ALCMs, five satellites, 35 aircraft, 109 helicopters, three SSNs, one surface ship, and 21 SAM systems.  The media outlet itself noted the submarine plans sounded garbled since two SSBNs and an SSN were more likely.

So what was acquired very roughly approximates what was anticipated.  And these are just high-profile systems rather than an exhaustive list.  As indicated at the outset, it’s a fuller picture not a full one.  There could be an official assessment later of what percentage of GOZ-2011 was completed.   

Sukhorukov also said late last year a contract for Bulava SLBM production out to 2020 was signed, but no acceptance date for the missile or the first Borey-class SSBN was established.

He added that 84 contracts worth 42 billion (8 percent of the money) were not fulfilled, and the Yasen-class SSN schedule was not met.  And defect claims reached 7,100, up from 6,800 in 2010.

Why They’re Empty

Well, mostly empty.  To its credit, Defense Ministry daily Krasnaya zvezda has tackled the issue of why Russian servicemen aren’t racing to take ownership and occupy permanent apartments offered to them.

KZ looked at two major military housing projects outside St. Petersburg — Slavyanka and Osinovaya Roshcha — which between them have over 100 buildings and almost 9,000 apartments.  The paper says only 40 percent of these apartments have been accepted, and only 20 percent occupied.

Slavyanka South and Osinovaya Roshcha North of St. Petersburg

Slavyanka’s construction was complete one year ago, but its streets are empty and one very rarely sees pedestrians.  Its school just opened, but residents are still waiting for day care and have to drive preschool children elsewhere.  The builders claim there are relatively few defects, and they are repaired quickly.

A Street in Slavyanka Last March

Osinovaya Roshcha was built on Defense Ministry land — a former military town, and its apartments were turned over about six months ago.  Like Slavyanka, the dwellings in this development don’t suffer from too many problems.
 
KZ says now on average about 150 apartments are being accepted every week in Slavyanka and Osinovaya Roshcha.  But this is still a slow pace.  Servicemen aren’t in a hurry to relocate because of the undeveloped infrastructure in both locations. 
 
There is no walking access to grocery stores, pharmacies, post offices, or bank branches.  The nonresidential first floors of buildings haven’t been sold or leased to businesses.  Neither the developer nor rayon administration can make arrangements for these commercial spaces because the property belongs to the Defense Ministry.
 
In Osinovaya Roshcha, it’s already clear there will be a major parking problem once the mikrorayon is fully settled.  Some parking was planned but hasn’t been built.  Also, the area depends on narrow two-lane Priozerskoye shosse as a main road.
 
KZ says the biggest headache in Osinovaya Roshcha, however, are nonworking elevators.  Some buildings are 17 stories, and current residents can count on having an operational elevator only one day per week.  The paper describes a Catch-22.  People don’t move in because elevators aren’t working, but there aren’t enough residents there to pay communal fees to cover the work of crews who fix the elevators.
 
The wait for day care centers keeps many families from moving.  They are supposed to open this month in Osinovaya Roshcha.  Older kids go to school in two shifts at an old building while they wait for a new one. 
 

KZ sums up:

“Judging by everything, people don’t intend to give up distant garrisons until life in the new mikrorayony is smoothed out and all essential infrastructure develops.” 

All in all, Internet photos seem to support KZ’s description of Slavyanka and Osinovaya Roshcha as generally well-constructed, livable communities.  
 

Medvedev Visits GRU Headquarters

General-Major Sergun Welcomes Medvedev and Serdyukov

President Dmitriy Medvedev, accompanied by Defense Minister Serdyukov and General Staff Chief Makarov, paid a visit on GRU headquarters yesterday.

Medvedev came to bestow state awards on GRU officers.  Presidential visits to the home of Russian military intelligence are rare, and usually come in connection with its anniversary (November 5).

So we have to suppose the lame-duck Supreme CINC and possible future prime minister went to the GRU to (a) bolster its newly-appointed chief, General-Major Igor Sergun, and (b) try to boost the morale of a service hard-hit by cuts and reorganizations under Serdyukov’s reforms.  Medvedev’s brief remarks seemed to confirm as much.

According to Kremlin.ru, after giving the GRU obligatory praise, Medvedev told its officers that the world situation is changing and “it requires adjustments not just in intelligence priorities, but also methods . . . .”

He continued:

“Consequently, a reorganization of the entire system of military intelligence has also occurred.  These changes have been introduced.  The results of the recent past show that the GRU is successfully coping with its established missions.  And on the whole military intelligence is performing professionally and effectively.”

“Of course, we need to increase the operational potential of the service, and its information potential, and its analytical potential.”  

Medvedev’s “on the whole” was a recognition of a state of affairs that is something less than fully optimal.  How much we don’t know.  He also seemed to be dealing with an audience more accustomed to, and happier with, operations than analysis.

The president went on to note the GRU’s traditional role in monitoring the global political-military situation, forecasting threats, tracking military-technical and defense industrial developments, and, especially, in counteracting international terrorism.

Kremlin.ru provided this video of Medvedev’s remarks.

Special Steel

Yasen Rollout in June 2010

On Thursday, Argumenty nedeli published a short article citing a source claiming Russia’s specialty steel makers aren’t very interested in supplying metal for new submarines planned for the Navy.

Argumenty’s record is interesting.  Sometimes they go out on a limb and don’t quite get a story right; other times they nail it or catch the gist of what seems to be happening.  Can’t say which it is this time.  But the paper has a tradition of looking closely at different parts of defense industry.

The story maintains Sevmash is trying to scrape together the specialty steel needed for new boats, and is short of what it needs for Borey– and Yasen-class hulls.  The paper’s OPK source notes, of course, that those boats already launched were assembled from existing sections of older submarine classes.

The source concludes rather direly:

“If the issue of steel isn’t resolved, then you have to forget about further production of our missile-carrying submarines.”

He continues:

“. . . it’s unprofitable for suppliers to produce.  Their own cost is high, but the Defense Ministry is buying a miserly quantity and trying to drive down the price on the finished item and, accordingly, on the components.”

Argumenty ends its short piece by reminding readers about the conflict between the Defense Ministry and United Shipbuilding Corporation (OSK) on the one hand and Sevmash on the other over pricing and contracts which lasted most of 2011.

That year-long battle ended in mid-November when Prime Minister Putin supervised the signing of seven submarine contracts worth more than 280 billion rubles in Severodvinsk.  There aren’t precise details on what the deal covered except nuclear-powered submarines — the modernized proyekt 955 Borey and proyekt 885 Yasen (or 955A and Yasen-M).

If Argumenty’s story is accurate, it suggests future disputes over submarine production and profit margins for Sevmash’s sub-contractors and suppliers.  Perhaps Putin’s deal was only a temporary end to the government-industry conflict.