Tag Archives: Aleksandr Khramchikhin

Not Denmark

Yes, Russia is definitely not Denmark.  It’s more like the DROC.

Vision of Humanity has released its 2011 Global Peace Index (GPI), which places the Russian Federation as the 147th least peaceful country in the world.  To get your bearings, Pakistan is 146th.  The DROC is 148th, North Korea 149th, etc.

The most peaceful countries were Iceland, New Zealand, Japan, Denmark, Czech Republic, etc.  The United States was 82nd.

The study uses 21 indicators of peacefulness; it doesn’t just count active conflicts.  It looks at societal security and safety issues and militarization.  The results are tested against related indicators on democracy, tolerance, education, etc., things where a country would be expected to score high or low depending on how peaceful it is.

At any rate, add Russia’s 147th on the GPI to its “Not Free” rating by Freedom House, its 154th on TI’s Corruption Perception Index, and its 140th on RWB’s Press Freedom Index.

Some Russian media coverage of the GPI . . .

Novyye izvestiya quotes Sergey Karaganov:

“A steady negative background is following Russia in recent years.  And this influences the evaluations of experts.”

He says not to believe such semi-artificial research fully, but:

“It’s true Russia doesn’t appear to be a peace-loving country.  Because we have quite an impressive history of using armed forces and a quite strong power element in our domestic and foreign policy.  So there’s nothing offensive or surprising in this.  We actually use force in conflict situations.  We conducted two ‘victorious’ wars in the last decade.  One of them civil in Chechnya, the second in Georgia.  Therefore, it’s not appropriate to talk about needing to compare us with Denmark.  And the fact that we’re in such company [Pakistan, DROC???] should make us think.”

Aleksandr Khramchikhin doesn’t think this assessment of peacefulness is objective:

“From a scientific point of view, such ratings are bogus because a green square sums it up.  No kind of strict scientific assessments could be done this way.  Therefore, if this rating in some way coincides with reality, it’s completely accidental.  In general, it’s incomprehensible why such indicators, as, for example, corruption are included there.  It seems to me that everything’s very artificial in the indicators.”

Chaskor.ru notes that Russia’s 147th rating on a list of 153 countries is a drop of four places from last year.  Looking into the report, it concludes Russia’s high level of crime and terrorist threat along with its significant spending on its power ministries explain its low ranking for peacefulness.  It also rated high for the ratio of police and internal security personnel to total population.

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Russia Not Likely to Buy Ukraina

Slava-class CG Ukraina

Will Russia buy the aging, semi-finished Slava-class CG Ukraina?  Probably not, unless the price is really right, i.e. basically zero.  It’s unlikely Russia will pay Ukraine to complete the cruiser because Russian shipyards have suggested towing it to Russia, refurbishing, and updating there. 

The questions are compelling only because of a recent video, varying reports about the ship and a possible deal, and what this all says about Moscow’s military procurement.

Military parity highlighted Podrobnosti.ua’s video.  Like the photo above, the video shows a major combatant in declining condition.

Nevertheless, according to recent ITAR-TASS, Ukraine’s Defense Minister is optimistic Kyiv and Moscow will finish Ukraina together.  And he claims the ship is 95 percent complete.

By way of review, Ukraina is a 1970s- or 1980s-vintage design being constructed as Fleet Admiral Lobov at Nikolayev’s [Mykolayiv’s] 61 Communards Shipbuilding Plant when the USSR collapsed.  Kyiv failed to find a foreign buyer for the ship, and reportedly spends $1 million every year maintaining it.  So that doesn’t mean a plethora of options or a very strong negotiating position for the Ukrainian side.

Talk of Russia buying Ukraina peaked last year in the wake of the base agreement extension between Moscow and Kyiv.  News outlets noted that the acting chief of the Russian Navy’s Technical Directorate inspected the cruiser and declared it 50 percent ready.  He said Ukraina would need 15 billion rubles for repairs and 35 billion for modernization — $1.7 billion in all.  The Navy’s 50 percent sounds a lot more like the 70 or 75 percent we’ve been hearing for many years than the Ukrainian Defense Minister’s 95 percent.

Reported pricetags for Ukraina, in its current shape, start at $70 or $80 million and run to ridiculous numbers.  In January, Argumenti.ru reported the Russian Defense Ministry would not pay scrap metal prices for Ukraina, but commented that Moscow would accept the ship as a gift.

Then there’s also the issue of whether the Russian Navy really needs it.  It’s an issue often forgotten in procurement debates.  Granted Ukraina is a something of a special case.  But it should also be a pretty easy decision.

Novyy region quoted a couple opinions last May.  Former Black Sea Fleet Commander Vladimir Komoyedov said:

“The ship hasn’t aged 15-20 years yet according to its capabilities.  However, it needs, of course, to be deployed in the ocean, in open theaters, and not in the Black Sea, not in the Baltic — there just isn’t sufficient space for it there.  The ships [Slava-class] are very good, not at all badly designed.  It can’t be said this cruiser belongs just to Ukraine alone.  Ukraine’s share of it, as far as I remember, is 17, a maximum of 20 percent.  Therefore the question’s about the purchase not of a full ship, but of a share — all the rest belongs to Russia.  The purchase issue has stood for a long time, and it needs to be resolved once and for all.  If such a decision is made, it’ll be the right one.  It’s better than the tin can Mistral by a factor of two.”

Defense analyst Aleksandr Khramchikhin, on the other hand, said:

“It’s very hard to understand who needs this ship now.  Undoubtedly, for our fleet which is shrinking into nothing, now such a cruiser has already become pointless.  We have to begin, so to speak, from below, and not from above, not with cruisers, but with frigates at least.  Moreover, these cruisers have a very narrow anti-aircraft carrier mission.  They were built exclusively for war with American carrier battle groups.  It doesn’t seem to me that this mission is all that acute for us now.  Therefore, it’s hard for me to comprehend why we need this ship, and where to put it if it is finished.”

All that said, the Russians might buy Ukraina anyway.  If they do, it’ll indicate a new State Program of Armaments gone awry in its first year.

More on the Military Personnel Zigzag

Wednesday’s Argumenty nedeli looked briefly at the reversal of Defense Minister Serdyukov’s cuts in the Russian officer corps, as well as plans to increase officer pay.

AN said Serdyukov said 70 thousand officers were needed to establish Air-Space (Aerospace) Defense (VKO), but noted he didn’t say where he would find so many officers for such a complex and specialized military field.

Those thrown out of the service in the course of implementing the “new profile” can’t be brought back, and training new officers will take 10-12 years following the reform of the military education system and the liquidation of the Mozhayskiy Military-Space Academy.

And, says AN, radically increasing pay won’t be so simple.  The budgets for 2011 and 2012 have been approved, so pay raises will have to wait until 2013 and 2014, after a new Duma and president have been elected.  And increasing the number of contractees [also with higher pay] will be another factor in army financing problems.

A General Staff source told AN:

“The approximate manning of VKO in all duty positions, including conscripts, contractees, and officers, will be 20-22 thousand.  This means the majority of duty positions will transfer there from Space Troops (KV), air defense troops and missile defense.  But after the mass cuts there aren’t enough commanders on the level of company, regiment and even brigade commanders.  And in all services and branches of the Armed Forces at that.  Therefore, it’s incorrect to think that all 70 thousand are going into VKO.”

According to him, the establishment of any new service [if it is a service rather than a branch], especially one as high-tech as VKO, requires “decades of work by all staffs.”

AN also cites Aleksandr Khramchikhin:

“It seems to me that constant casting about on the size of the officer corps just says that military reform issues haven’t been worked out in a strategic plan.”

A short item that says a lot . . . just a couple comments:

  • This piece is saying that VKO officers and specialists will be taken from the ranks of those currently serving in KV, PVO, and PRO.
  • The 70,000 additional officers will plug holes in command positions throughout the Armed Forces.
  • It would be difficult to bring back dismissed officers.  But there are lots of serving officers living in limbo outside the shtat (штат), outside the TO&E at the disposition (распоряжение) of their commanders, who could be called back to their units.
  • Military education’s been hammered, but it looks like Mozhayskiy’s still operating.
  • Delivering the promised new higher pay system in 2012 will be difficult under current and projected budgetary constraints.  So it’s another opportunity for the regime to fail.  But the Kremlin and White House don’t really need to worry about military votes anyway.
  • Kramchikhin’s right on.  Serdyukov’s idea to cut the officer corps in half – from more than 30 to 15 percent of Armed Forces personnel – was right.  But he failed to plan properly for it, and he tried to do it too fast.  Without accounting, or compensating, for the myriad historical, economic, and cultural reasons Russia had so many officers in the first place – reliance on conscripts and the lack of a strong NCO corps being first and foremost.  So another correct step is discredited by hubris, lack of foresight, and poor execution.  Serdyukov didn’t need to measure seven times before cutting, but twice would have been nice.
  • Taking “decades” to put VKO in place would certainly be the old-fashioned speed of Russian military reform.  But if it’s to be done quickly and successfully, it has to be done with more care than Serdyukov’s demonstrated over the last four years.

The Results of Reform

Trud’s Mikhail Lukanin offered an interesting one last Wednesday . . . with help from other frequent commentators, he takes a swag at describing the results of Anatoliy Serdyukov’s nearly 4-year tenure as Defense Minister.

It’s interesting because it’s unclear if Lukanin’s article is intended to damn by faint praise, to be sarcastic, or was ordered by someone.  Maybe he intends to say these are just results, the good and the bad.

It’s easy to see some good in Lukanin’s first five, but his final three are pretty much unleavened.

The Army’s Become More Mobile

Lukanin quotes Vitaliy Shlykov:

“Until 2008, our army looked like fragments of the old, Soviet one, weighed down with heavy weapons, oriented toward global nuclear war with practically the entire world.”

He says even in the August war against Georgia the army was still “Soviet” — slow to stand up, with an archaic command and control structure.  But now the situation’s changed with mobile brigades that can answer an alert in 1 hour instead of days.

The Army’s Rid Itself of the Spirit of the Barracks

Valentina Melnikova tells Lukanin that the soldier’s life has changed cardinally under Serdyukov.  She says, until recently, one-third of soldiers were typically involved in nonmilitary work every day.  Now soldiers are gradually being freed from such duties as commercial firms take them on.

New Equipment Has Come to the Troops

Lukanin writes that finally a start’s been given to the largest rearmament of the army in post-Soviet times.  One that will take new weapons and equipment from about 10 percent of today’s inventory to 90-100 percent [official sources only claim 70 percent] by 2020.

Lukanin quotes Ruslan Pukhov:

“The Navy alone will receive 40 submarines and 36 new ships, and the Air Forces 1,500 aircraft in the next decade.”

Officer Pay Has Grown

Lukanin says lieutenants and majors made 14 and 20 thousand rubles per month respectively before Serdyukov’s reform,  but now 50 and 70 thousand if they receive premium pay for outstanding combat training results.  And from 2012, premium payments will be included in their permanent duty pay, and 50 thousand rubles will be the minimum base pay for officers.

Lukanin quotes Aleksandr Khramchikhin: 

“The officers of our army are actually comparable with the armies of developed countries in pay levels. “

They Didn’t Talk Reform to Death

Lukanin says experts think it’s good Serdyukov’s reform was pursued energetically, without lengthy discussion and debate.  Pukhov gives the cut from 6 to 4 military districts as an example:

“At one time, it would have taken years to transfer a huge quantity of officers and generals from place to place, but the Defense Ministry did this in just 4-5 months.”

They Stopped Training Officers

Lukanin refers to Serdyukov’s halt to inducting new cadets into officer commissioning schools until at least 2012.  He says 2010 graduates were either released or accepted sergeant positions.  This led to the departure of experienced instructors, and their replacement with younger officers lacking the necessary experience.

Sergeants Almost Ceased to Exist

Contract sergeants were dispersed in 2009-2010.  The Defense Ministry considers them poorly trained, and in no way superior to ordinary [conscript] soldiers.  Now it’s counting completely on conscripts with an even lower level of training.

There’s Nothing to Defend Against China

Here Lukanin notes that some results of reform have put people on guard.  Anatoliy Tsyganok tells him tank units have been practically eliminated: 

“Now only 2,000 tanks, old models at that, remain in the army.”

In Tsyganok’s opinion, tanks are still very relevant for the defense of Russia’s border with China.

What do we make of all this?

  • It’s good that the Russian Army was restructured into smaller, more combat ready formations, i.e. brigades, and sub-units. 
  • We really have no clear picture of the extent and success of outsourcing nonmilitary tasks in the army.  Meanwhile, the “spirit of the barracks” is alive and well when it comes to dedovshchina and violence in the ranks. 
  • The promise of another rearmament program shimmers on the horizon, but it’s not delivering much yet, and there are plenty of serious obstacles to completing it. 
  • The officer pay picture has improved, but the Defense Ministry has real work to do this year to implement a fully new pay system next year.  Meanwhile, several years of premium pay have caused divisions and disaffection in the officer corps. 
  • Moving out smartly on reform was a change over endless talk, but there are areas where more circumspection might have served Serdyukov well. 
  • The Defense Ministry definitely had to stop feeding more officers into an army with a 1:1 officer-conscript ratio.  We’ll have to see what kind of officers the remaining VVUZy produce when the induction of cadets restarts. 
  • Aborting contract service cut the army’s losses on the failed centerpiece military personnel policy of the 2000s.  But something will have to take its place eventually to produce more professional NCOs and soldiers. 
  • Russia is probably right to deemphasize its heavy armor.  It doesn’t appear to have much of a place in the coming rearmament plan.  And tanks really aren’t the answer to Moscow’s largely unstated security concerns vis-a-vis China anyway.

So what’s Serdyukov’s scorecard?  A mixed bag.  Probably more good than bad, but we’ll have to wait to see which results stand and prove positive over the long term.  Definitely superior to his predecessor’s tenure.  Expect more Serdyukov anniversary articles as 15 February approaches.

Return to Cam Ranh?

Russia Departs Cam Ranh in 2002 (photo: ITAR-TASS)

The Russian Navy’s possible return to Vietnam became the latest military rumor floated in the media last week.  If it happens, it won’t have exactly the same purposes as in 1979, and it probably won’t be on the same scale.  But it will be part and parcel of the issue of being, or wanting to remain, a naval power.  Moscow might have to ask itself if it still is one, or will be one in the future.

On Wednesday, former Navy Main Staff Chief, Admiral Viktor Kravchenko told Interfaks the Navy is proposing to reestablish a material-technical support base (PMTO or ПМТО) at Cam Ranh.

The news service quotes Kravchenko:

“Without a system of bases for deployment, full support of Navy ships in distant waters is problematic.  Navy surface ships and submarines need repair, resupply, and crew rest to fulfill a wide range of missions on the world’s oceans.  If as before Russia considers itself a naval power, the reestablishment and creation of basing points like Cam Ranh is unavoidable.”

A Defense Ministry source told Nezavisimaya gazeta that:

“The [Navy] Glavkomat has finished work on the documents considering and substantiating the need to reestablish a basing point to support Russian ships in the Asia-Pacific region.  If there is a political decision, then the Navy is prepared to reestablish a working base in three years.”

The base would support ships on antipiracy missions in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, according to the source.

The Chairman of the Duma Defense Committee’s Subcommittee on Military-Technical Cooperation, former Captain First Rank Mikhail Nenashev told Interfaks:

“The rent for a naval base at Cam Ranh, in the end, would cost Russia less than regular support of combatants on the world’s oceans using auxiliary ships, tankers, and repair ships.”

And:

“Reestablishing a base at Cam Ranh would help strengthen and develop cooperation with Vietnam and the Asia-Pacific region countries not only in military, but in many others spheres of activity.”

Izvestiya says, Moscow doesn’t intend to return to a Cold War-style global military confrontation with Washington – it has not the forces, means, or desire for it – but the ‘Cam Ranh initiative’ shows that a gradual reanimation of specific military bases abroad could happen.

According to Newsru.com and Vremya novostey, in 1979, Moscow and Hanoi signed a 25-year agreement by which the Soviet Pacific Fleet’s 17th Squadron gained access to Cam Ranh.  Vietnam allowed the Soviet Navy to base 10 surface ships, 8 submarines with a submarine support ship, and 6 auxiliaries at the port.  Later, the 922nd PMTO was established at the Vietnamese port.  The Soviets had POL storage, an ASW and missile armaments base and technical service unit, a Naval Infantry sub-unit, and an air regiment at Cam Ranh.

The base was initially free, but Hanoi asked for $300 million in rent in 1998.  In 2001, Moscow decided not to extend its agreement with Vietnam, and the last Russian elements departed Cam Ranh in mid-2002.  The decisionmaking around the Cam Ranh withdrawal (likewise for Lourdes, Cuba) is anything but clear-cut.  But then President Putin probably made the decision, reportedly against the advice of many senior uniformed officers, in an effort to save money for the military at home, and to make nice with Washington.  Former high-ranking General Staff officer Leonid Ivashov claims the $300 million rent, at least, shouldn’t have been an issue since it could have been written off against Vietnam’s $10 billion debt to Moscow.

Prime Minister Putin’s December 2009 Hanoi visit and major arms deal, including six proyekt 636 diesel submarines, with Vietnam may have started movement on a return to Cam Ranh.  Defense Minister Serdyukov went to Hanoi in February and told Rossiyskaya gazeta the Vietnamese were very interested in constructing a Navy repair plant and Russian help with naval logistics.  However, Serdyukov claimed the Vietnamese didn’t propose anything about Cam Ranh.  But NG’s Vladimir Mukhin speculates a deal for a renewed Russian presence at the base might be inked during President Medvedev’s late October trip to Vietnam.

Izvestiya quotes independent military analyst Aleksandr Khramchikhin:

“Theoretically, I welcome the reestablishment of a Navy base at Cam Ranh.  For Russia, it is a very composite and most useful facility abroad. Without it, the operations of the Pacific Fleet are impeded.  Also very little remains of the Pacific Fleet.  This fact, however, doesn’t change the usefulness of the base at Cam Ranh.  Such a step could, of course, create certain foreign policy difficulties for Russia.  I suppose the U.S. and China will express dissatisfaction, but this will hardly have any real effect.  As concerns Vietnam, it would pay to view it as our most important ally.  Russia largely cast it aside after the collapse of the USSR.  This was a gross mistake worth correcting.”

It’s worth recalling Khramchikhin may view Vietnam through a slightly Sinophobic prism.

Talking to NG, Duma Deputy, and former Black Sea Fleet commander, Vladimir Komoyedov worries there won’t be anything to deploy at Cam Ranh:

“The Pacific Fleet, whose ships need to control the waters of South-East Asia, has hardly received any new units for the last two decades.  And what will we deploy to Cam Ranh?”

New Commander, Old Fleet

Vice-Admiral Korolev (photo: Novyy Region)

As expected, Northern Fleet Chief of Staff and First Deputy Commander, Vice-Admiral Vladimir Ivanovich Korolev (Королёв) officially replaced Vice-Admiral Aleksandr Kletskov as Commander of the Black Sea Fleet on 2 July.  

Turning 55 next month, Kletskov retired on age grounds, but, as only Kommersant bothered to note, Korolev turned 55 in February, so President Medvedev has either officially extended his service a couple years, or plans to give him another star, allowing him to serve to 60, under the law. 

Novyy Region quoted Navy CINC Admiral Vysotskiy introducing the new BSF Commander: 

“Vice-Admiral Korolev is a competent leader, possessing good personal knowledge and work habits, both in the staff and in command duties.” 

About Korolev’s background . . . after finishing officer commissioning school in 1976, he was assigned to a Northern Fleet nuclear submarine, serving as a division head in the navigation department.  

According to Kommersant, in the mid-1980s, he served in the Gadzhiyevo-based 24th Division of Submarines (24th DiPL).  He eventually served as executive officer and commander of Victor II-class (proyekt 671RT) SSNs  K-488 and K-387.  He completed mid-career Higher Specialized Officer’s Classes in 1987. 

In 1993, he became Deputy Commander of the 24th DiPL, and completed his advanced education at the Kuznetsov Naval Academy in 1995.  He then moved to the Northern Fleet’s Operations Directorate as chief of an unidentified department, then chief of fleet ASW.  

By August 2000, he was Commander of the 24th DiPL, and in 2002 became Commander of the Sayda Guba-based 12th Squadron (24th and 18th DiPLs). 

On 19 November 2007, Korolev became Deputy Commander of the Northern Fleet, and was appointed Chief of Staff and First Deputy Commander in August 2009. 

Media reports haven’t mentioned whether he’s married or has children. 

Korolev faces a large number of unresolved military and social issues in his fleet.  It has an extremely high percentage of old ships that aren’t combat capable.  Some problems with Ukraine persist despite the recent improvement in relations and the Kharkov agreement extending Russia’s Crimean presence to 2042, as well as the promise of 15 new ships and submarines which followed it. 

Independent analyst Aleksandr Khramchikhin told Novyy Region Korolev inherited a fleet in bad shape: 

“The fleet is in a state of disappearance, complete collapse.  It’s obvious the commander needs to stave off this collapse somehow.  But I don’t understand very well how this can be done.  Because these promises of numerous ships don’t correspond very much to the record of recent decades, and it’s extremely hard to believe in them.” 

“The basic mission of the fleet commander is to try to keep the fleet from dying, even though its service life is close to zero.  He can’t do anything because he doesn’t build ships.  The Black Sea Fleet has gone to the limit of obsolescence.  It’s the very oldest of our fleets.  It’s the only one of the fleets in which there are still ships built in the 1960s.  It’s the only one in which there’s been practically no kind of renewal in the post-Soviet period.” 

“It’s hard to understand what missions are being given to the BSF.  Let’s say it can’t even be closely compared with the Turkish Navy in forces, it is so much weaker.  I repeat, our entire Navy is in a state close to collapse, but the Black Sea Fleet is in first place in this regard.” 

An anonymous BSF staff source told Novyy Region Korolev’s first task is to replenish the fleet with new ships, not just secondhand Baltic Fleet units.  His second job is placing orders for repair and construction of ships not just at the BSF’s 13th Factory, but at Ukrainian shipyards as well.  

The fleet’s social problems are next.  It has hundreds of officers whose duties were eliminated, but they can’t be dismissed since they don’t have apartments.  The source says these guys are walking around in uniform, but have no jobs.  Korolev’s fourth task is a related one–returning Moscow Mayor Luzhkov to full engagement in Sevastopol.  Luzhkov is no longer building apartments there as he has in the past owing to a dust-up with the Defense Ministry over the handling of property in Sevastopol.  

Lastly, Korolev has some real naval missions to worry about like securing southern energy routes, the 2014 Winter Olympics, antipiracy operations, and keeping a Russian presence in the Mediterranean. 

Regarding Admiral Vystoskiy’s promise of new ships and submarines for the BSF, Moscow Defense Brief analyst Mikhail Barabanov told Kommersant the civilian and military leadership may see the fleet’s reinforcement a priority because it may more likely see real combat action than the Northern and Pacific Fleets.  

A Kommersant BSF staff source describes Korolev’s main mission not as planning for new ships by 2020, but simply supporting the combat capability of a fleet contracting before our eyes.

Makarov Meets the Press

Chief of the General Staff Nikolay Makarov

General Staff Chief Nikolay Makarov spoke at length to the press yesterday. In no particular order, here are some of the impressions and reports that followed in his wake.

RBCdaily quoted Makarov on the possible Mistral purchase:  “Ships of the Mistral type have very great multifunctionality, and they surpass our ships in all parameters by three times.”  He went on to say that Russian shipbuilders would only be able to produce helicopter carriers of this quality in 5-10 years.  Aleksandr Khramchikhin commented that, in the first place, Russia doesn’t currently have comparable ships and, in the second, it will take 50 years.

Makarov said the final decision on buying the Mistral had not been made.

According to Rossiyskaya gazeta, Makarov said the Russian Army went to brigades vice divisions to avoid the previous need to flesh out units with reservists and take days to bring them to combat readiness.  ‘Modular’ battalions by contrast are permanently ready for battle in an hour.

Makarov didn’t rule out establishment of some type of ‘rapid reaction forces,’ though these are closest in nature to today’s VDV.  And this wouldn’t mean VDV would simply change its name. And other services need rapid reaction capabilities too for action in the air, on the sea, etc.  Aren’t permanently ready brigades rapid reaction forces already?

On the Navy headquarters move to St. Petersburg, Makarov claimed Moscow is overflowing with army and navy leadership [but haven’t they just cut 200,000 officers and lots of excess command structures to create a personnel pyramid?].  And with today’s networks the fleet can be commanded from thousands of kilometers away from the Genshtab and other main commands.

Makarov doesn’t foresee any change to the one-year conscription policy, but there may be changes in NCO acquisition.  Instead of six months training in MD training centers, they may only get 3, so they can serve 9 months in troop units.  Makarov thinks they’ll cut back on conscript sergeants once their professional ones start to appear.

Moskovskiy komsomolets quoted Makarov on the new strategic arms agreement with the U.S. to the effect that it’s 97 percent complete, and it only remains to agree on the relationship between offensive and defensive weapons, and there will not be anything in the treaty to Russia’s detriment in this regard.

On Mistral, Makarov said, after study, we’ve concluded we need this type of ship, which can be an amphibious assault ship, hospital, command ship, and helicopter carrier.

On the Navy and Piter, MK notes Makarov wanted to avoid Baluyevskiy’s fate and didn’t contradict his superiors.  He expounded on his vision (perhaps dream) of Russian netcentric warfare:

“Earlier it was like this:  the closer to subordinates, the more reliable the command and control.  Now all leading countries, including us also, are going to netcentric command and control systems.  This allows completely remote means of reconnaissance, command and control, electronic warfare, fire, command posts–all spread over an enormous distance, but located in a single information-communications space and capable of solving tasks in real time.”

On a related note, Makarov said the new Sozvezdiye tactical level command and control system will be part of the netcentric structure toward the end of the year.

Gazeta’s coverage focused on Makarov’s comments about establishing the personnel pyramid, i.e. going from armed forces with about 500,000 officers and warrants to one of 150,000 officers and 720,000 soldiers in the space of a year.  It also noted Makarov’s remark that brigade commanders in their training assembly at the General Staff Academy are learning new warfare and command and control principles.

Izvestiya quoted Makarov at length on the Navy Main Staff’s move to Piter.

“Presently all command and control organs are concentrated in Moscow, but we want these command and control organs to be as close as possible to the troops they control [didn’t he also call this the old way of doing business?].  The dispersal of command and control and fire means at great distances doesn’t have any great significance, what’s important is maintaining uninterrupted and clear command and control of troops and weapons.  Therefore, the transfer of the Navy Main Staff to St. Petersburg won’t place any kind of extra burden on the command and control system, with the exception perhaps, only in the initial period of its functioning in a new place.”

Viktor Baranets in Komsomolskaya pravda focused on Makarov’s words on the U.S. and Iran, noting his statements that the U.S. has a plan to strike Iran, and, if it occurs, it’ll be terrible for Iran, the region, and the U.S.

Krasnaya zvezda covered the Iran issue.  It noted that Russia’s need for ready units forced the shift to brigades.  It also covered Makarov’s comment that the Voronezh conference agreed on changes needed in the Sozvezdiye C2 system, and that it would be received this July and fielded in November.  KZ also quoted Makarov at length on the capabilities of the 5th generation fighter aircraft.

KZ also indicated that Makarov noted the U.S. as an example where units and commands are often separated by great distances when he talked about the Navy Main Staff and Piter.

Generally, it seems those invited to this press availability only asked Makarov ‘soft ball’ questions.