Tag Archives: Dmitriy Rogozin

Is Such a Ship Needed?

Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin has concluded another week of meetings with military leaders and defense industry officials.  Some significant statements appeared in the media, but none more interesting than those from Deputy Prime Minister Dmitriy Rogozin.  He, of course, oversees the defense industries, and serves as Putin’s deputy on the government’s Military-Industrial Commission (VPK).

Rogozin contends the new state armaments program (GPV) will include innovative weapons systems rather than modernization of existing platforms.  He buries Navy hopes for a modern aircraft carrier, and — worse for the Navy — he’s down on big ships that make great targets.  And he expounds at length on transport aircraft programs (which his son Aleksey now directs as vice-president of OAK).

Dmitriy Rogozin

Dmitriy Rogozin

Vesti asked Rogozin what will or won’t be in the next GPV.  He answered:

“We are gradually moving away from the modernization of old types of armaments, although, we must say, modernization is just as normal as the development of new types.  But there can’t be an endless amount of modernization.  Let’s say, three-four times, not more.  Otherwise this stops the development of new weapons systems. Therefore the new program of armaments is, in essence, an innovation program which includes completely new approaches. Above all, it is the development of smart weapons, and automated command, control, communications, and reconnaissance systems. We’ll have modern troop communications, which has always been a weak point.  We’ll have robotic systems, we have almost completed development of new unmanned vehicles, both ground and air.  And, of course, a strong renewal of our satellite network is in progress.  High-quality navigation, reconnaissance, and many other things.”

Asked if the Navy was favored over the Ground Troops in the current arms program, Rogozin responded:

“No, we won’t have some kind of imbalance, that is something favoring the Navy, favoring the Aerospace Forces or favoring new smart systems.  This is the emphasis of the new program of armaments.  The Navy will receive new ships.  Today we are stressing ‘muscular’ ships — frigates, corvettes of near and distant ocean zones, that is what doesn’t provide a great target for the enemy, but nimble, maneuverable, and capable of responding just like a large ship.”

Vesti inquired about delaying investment in new aircraft carriers and strategic bombers.  Rogozin answered:

“If we talk, let’s say, about aircraft carriers, then technologically and technically today Russian defense industry is capable of developing a ship of such displacement.  But it’s a question for the military whether such a ship is needed.  After all, we have to remember that, unlike the United States, we are not a great maritime power, we are a great continental power, and we have several other priorities.  As far as a strategic bomber goes, we have completed unique work at the Kazan Aircraft Plant, reestablished, but on a new technological basis, electron beam welding that is needed to develop the titanium fuselage on which the technology of the Tu-160, our great strategic bomber, was always based.  And we will recreate this aircraft, undoubtedly, on a new technical basis, with new electronics, new weapons, but this doesn’t mean that we have abandoned plans to develop the future aviation system of long-range aviation [PAK DA].  Work on it is beginning, as on the future aviation system of military-transport aviation [PAK VTA], and on a medium military-transport aircraft.  Decisions were made recently in Sochi.  We will produce it, and we’ll have it around 2023-2024.  At the end of this year, we are planning for a small, light transport aircraft to fly.  For our army, which is compact, it’s important to have the possibility of being instantly redeployed to another theater of military operations where some threat is growing. In this way we’ll repulse any aggression by potential enemies not with great numbers, but with the great skill and mobility of our Armed Forces.”

Moscow’s made a start in this direction, but Rogozin might be exaggerating its progress.  More interesting is his intimation that the MOD is making trade-offs in the process of cobbling together GPV 2018-2025.  Are large (and expensive) ships out in favor of neglected military transport aircraft?  Rogozin rails against “endless” modernization but, practically in the same breath, insists the MOD won’t forget about PAK DA as it prepares to produce updated Tu-160 bombers.  Perhaps someone will remind him there are things besides modernization which interfere with the development of new weapons.

Re-Industrializing for Military Modernization

Golts

Golts

It’s been Golts overkill.  Despite the risk of overdosing, he has an article in Ogonek from 25 September which merits attention.

One could do much, much worse than to pick him, if you could read only one commentator.

Golts tries to explain why Russia’s OPK, its defense sector, has failed.

He gives prominent examples of defense industrial shortcomings including the most recent Bulava and Proton-M failures.  Interestingly, he says all serially produced Bulava SLBMs are being returned to Votkinsk for inspection.

Calling the list of failures “endless,” he concludes, “Production standards are falling uncontrollably not only in the space sector.”  He continues:

“The thing is not only particular failures.  Experts from the military economics laboratory of the Gaydar Institute suggest that defense order 2013 will be disrupted just as it was in previous years.  According to their data, defense order 2012 was revised and lowered at least three times.  And still it was unfulfilled by approximately 20 percent.  Accounting Chamber auditor Aleksandr Piskunov was extremely forthright in the Duma hearings:  ‘Almost one hundred percent fulfillment of state defense orders for the last 20 years hasn’t interfered with the failure of all armaments programs, with fulfilling them at 30, 40, 50 percent.'”

You may recall reading Piskunov here at the start of April.

Then, Golts notes, Putin himself cast doubt on the OPK’s ability to fulfill the current GPV.  He recalls the late July meeting when Putin indicated he’d entertain slipping ships and submarines due after 2015 into the next GPV (to 2025), so that there aren’t more “failures.”

Putin said work should be organized so producers’ capabilities coincide with the allocated funding.  Money, he said, shouldn’t be hung up in accounts [and stolen] while we wait for ships.  Golts reads this as Putin recognizing that the state of domestic industry is such that it can’t assimilate the gigantic sums allocated to it.

The defense sector has structural problems that endless calls for mobilization to face an aggressive West can’t resolve (i.e. a workforce that’s almost reached retirement age, continued aging of basic production equipment).

Golts again turns to Piskunov, who said only 20 percent of defense enterprises approach world standards in terms of technical equipment, and nearly half are in such a poor state that resurrecting them is senseless — it would be better to start from a “clean slate.”

But Golts focuses on poor coordination and cooperation among enterprises, government customers, and sub-contractors.  He turns to the familiar case of Bulava — 650 different enterprises reportedly have a hand in turning out this missile.

Most damning, Golts compares today’s “so-called united state corporations” unfavorably to Soviet-era defense industry ministries.  Ineffective and bureaucratized, the latter still managed to manufacture massive numbers of weapons.  And Gosplan matched prices for products and production by fiat.  Today’s goskorporatsii can’t.

There’s another important difference, Golts points out.  All Soviet “civilian” industries also produced arms, or parts for them.  Average citizens buying civilian goods helped finance military production with their purchases.

But the largest part of this permanently mobilized industrial system died in the 1990s and surviving parts retooled for other production.  Many in the latter category no longer wanted part of the defense order which would only make them less competitive in their main business.

Then Golts concludes:

“But it’s impossible to begin serial production of armaments without serial production of components.”

Today’s OPK chiefs don’t have the talents of some of Stalin’s industrial commissars, says Golts.  They are, however, good at blaming ex-Defense Minister Serdyukov for “destroying” the voyenpred system.

Golts really gets to it here:

“In reality producers of complex military equipment have a choice.  They can either make components in final assembly plants in a semi-artisan fashion.  Or they can buy them on the side, risking getting crap made in some tent.  It stands to reason the problem isn’t confined to recreating the military acceptance office in enterprises.  Complex chains of sub-contractors have to be established.  And, we note, even with money — this isn’t a banal task.  We’re really talking about new industrialization, the construction of new enterprises.  But just what kind?”

Golts recommends a policy of targeted and specialized re-industrialization.  Because of the expense, he says build specialized component factories to support production of critical systems where Russia is decades behind developed states — communications, reconnaissance, UAVs, precision weapons.  Russia will have to prioritize and Golts doesn’t see tanks, ships, and heavy ICBMs as priorities.  Those who pick the priorities have to withstand attacks from lobbyists for these weapons.

Golts believes Deputy Prime Minister and OPK tsar Dmitriy Rogozin knows the bind he’s in . . . and that’s why he says put off the beginning of serial production of many armaments until the next armaments program (2016-2025).

Golts concludes:

“Generally, the rearmament of the Russian Army is entering a new cycle.  Without any kind of results.”

Clean Slate

It took a brave man to tell the State Duma what department chief Aleksandr Piskunov said in the Audit Chamber’s annual legislative report in February.  Voyenno-promyshlennyy kuryer published excerpts of his remarks.

Piskunov’s a government official.  Not a powerful voice, but an authoritative one in his specialty.

Auditor Aleksandr Piskunov

Auditor Aleksandr Piskunov

To say he’s well-equipped for his work is an understatement. 

Sixty-one or 62 years old, Piskunov graduated from the RVSN’s Dzherzhinskiy Military Academy with a radio engineering degree.  He served on active duty to the rank of general-major, spending many years at the Plesetsk cosmodrome.  He later trained in the RF Government’s Financial Academy and a business school in London.  He has a PhD in economics.

Piskunov served in both the RSFSR Supreme Soviet and State Duma in the early 1990s, and was deputy chairman of the Defense Committee for each body.  He also chaired the Defense Ministry’s Military-Technical Policy Committee.  In the mid-1990s, he moved to the staff (apparat) of the RF Government and was deputy chairman of its Committee on Military-Industrial Issues.

He returned to the Duma briefly in 1999, and became deputy chairman of its “Regions of Russia” faction.

He went to the Audit Chamber in 2001, and is currently in his third term of service.

Piskunov thinks Russia can’t produce new, better, or more weapons and military equipment without modernizing its badly neglected defense industrial base.  But he has pretty much nothing but scorn for the current management of the state defense order.  And he sees little but failure in the GPV over the last 20 years.  In particular, Piskunov calls for incorporating life cycle costs into the GPV.  Ultimately, however, he says auditors and accountants can’t fix the GOZ or GPV, but lawmakers could.

Enough preamble.  Here’s VPK’s excerpt of Piskunov’s remarks.

“STRICT CONTROL OF FULFILLING THE ARMAMENTS PROGRAM IS NEEDED”

“I represent a department that performs strategic audits in the Audit Chamber.  We’ve done a lot of work in evaluating the condition of practically all 1,350 enterprises of the defense-industrial complex, their financial stability and real contribution to equipping the Armed Forces.”

“We looked at how balanced the program of defense-industrial complex modernization and State Program of Armaments were.  A gap of 700 billion rubles was observed.  At the same time, 1 trillion 200 billion is built into the budget to guarantee compensation to enterprise directors who go to commercial banks for credits.”

“Similar credit practices are leading to the growth of OPK enterprises with an unstable financial situation.  More than 30 percent are like this.  Only 20 percent come close to world standards in technical equipping.  More than half are in a condition where their restoration is already senseless — it would be better to build from a clean slate.”

“In preparing the law on the state defense order we tried to correct this situation.”

“From my point of view, our system of administering the state defense order is uncompetitive.  The adopted law preserved the situation under which  management amounts to a lag in the state defense order.”

“The deputy prime minister, responsible for the defense-industrial complex, reported that the state defense order was fulfilled by 99 percent as in past years.  But almost one hundred percent fulfillment of state defense orders over the last 20 years has not prevented the failure of all arms programs or fulfilling them at 30, 40, 50 percent.”

“Dmitriy Rogozin himself noted that fulfillment happened because of the appearance of realization.  During the execution of the arms program 7,200 changes were introduced into it, that is the real result is being slanted to agree with this fact.”

“Meanwhile Rogozin recognized that the arms program has gotten old.  The task of preparing a new State Program of Armaments stands before him.  So the problem of forming a legislative basis and management of the State Program of Armaments is more acute than ever.”

“Our opponents in government, having considered it inexpedient to include the management of the acquisition program life cycle in the GOZ law, said it was necessary to include this management in the law on the State Program of Armaments.”

“To me it seems necessary in this instance to hold them to their word — to propose that the government prepare a draft law on the State Program of Armaments.  It’s possible this will allow us to compensate for not realizing it in the GOZ law, and meet the president’s demand to create essential management of the life cycle of weapons systems.  But today the state of affairs is seriously complicated by the fact that the life cycle is really torn into several parts in the Defense Ministry itself.”

“Those who’ve served understand:  you can’t modernize armaments without the experience of using them.  Who really tracks all this life cycle?  It would be logical if Rosoboronpostavka were occupied with this, but it is located at the junction of the functional orderer — a service of the Armed Forces and a contracting firm.  It would be more appropriate to subordinate this department to the government.  It’s perfectly clear that the main risks are connected not to corruption, but to the low qualifications of the orderer.  Someone needs to “hang” over the orderer from the point of view of its responsibility for how both the program and the contract as a unitary whole are being executed.  Juridical responsibility is not rebuilt only through the contract.”

“The level of project management in our ‘defense sector,’ unfortunately, is also very low, especially the quality management system.  We are all witness to what is happening now in space.”

“It’s frightening that it’s impossible to create new equipment without metrics.  We lost the project management culture and stopped training specialists in military academies and schools.  The very best on this plane is OOO ‘KB Sukhoy’ and it used the American experience-plan for metrics on developmental aircraft.  The Americans seized and simply closed the issue — this project is no longer being supported.  To rewrite project documentation now in some kind of domestic variant is complex, therefore the development of these systems is essential.”

“The participation of commercial banks in providing credit for the state defense order is an important question.  Now in the government they are discussing how these 23 trillion will go — through commercial banks, for free or for money?  It’s understood that banks simply don’t work that way.  There is a precedent — the government resolution on the Mariinka, the Bolshoy [theaters], the M-4 [highway].  If you calculate it, then 20 percent received from 23 trillion over these years, it’s necessary to take an additional amount from the taxpayers or cut the defense order by this sum.”

“Not less sensitive is the issue of intermediaries.  If the Defense Ministry and government don’t put transactions under the strictest control, then there are all the calculations on the defense order, life cycle and cooperation levels, we will mess up this program of armaments also.  This, undoubtedly, is one of the most dangerous questions for the Defense Ministry — too large lobbyist forces participating, too large sums going.”

“Questions of managing the life cycle and control of finances are the most fundamental.  The treasury is incapable of resolving this task.”

GPV 2016-2025

Dmitriy Rogozin

Dmitriy Rogozin

Last week Rossiyskaya gazeta’s Sergey Ptichkin reviewed Dmitriy Rogozin’s comments on the formation of the next state armaments program, GPV 2016-2025.  Rogozin is Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the Military-Industrial Commission (VPK) attached to the RF Government.

Rogozin indicated the next GPV will be very different from the current one, according to Ptichkin.

Rogozin said fulfillment of GPV 2016-2025 will be tracked with a new automated system GAS-GOZ, or the State Automated System of the State Defense Order (or perhaps State Automated Defense Order System?).  It’s supposed to allow for “quickly reacting to the smallest failures” in the GOZ.

The Future Research Fund (FPI or ФПИ, the emerging Russian DARPA) will effectively develop the most promising military and civilian technologies in 2016-2025.

Systems now in RDT&E are supposed to be in serial production.  There may be some weapons based on “new physical principles.”

The PAK DA, a new strategic bomber, should be developed and produced during this GPV.  The fifth generation fighter, PAK FA, will be in production.

There will be new missiles, from operational-tactical to strategic, hypersonic ones too.

It’s “not excluded” that aviation-carrying formations (aircraft carriers) will appear in the Navy.

Rogozin said the “active inclusion of the Military-Industrial Commission in developing the future GPV” is a first, and will allow for avoiding “many problems and collisions” along the way.

Rogozin criticized the “former Defense Ministry leadership” for refusing to accept the BTR-90, not ordering the BMD-4, not taking delivery of assembled BMP-3s, and not testing Obyekt 195 (a future tank) after GPV 2011-2020 was already finalized.  Instead, rushed orders for developing and producing the wheeled Bumerang, light tracked Kurganets-25, and heavy tracked Armata ensued. 

These armored vehicles are supposed to enter the force in a year or two, but this seems unlikely.  They will probably become part of GPV 2016-2025.

Rogozin promised the next GPV will be the most balanced, most well-calculated, most innovative, and, at the same time, most realistic.

It’s very early to talk about the next GPV.  Traditionally, this is a sign things aren’t going well in the GOZ or the current GPV.  The overlap in consecutive GPVs makes it difficult (perhaps impossible) for anyone — citizens, lawmakers, bureaucrats, military men, and, defense industrialists — to understand exactly what’s been procured (or not) under each GPV.  This state of confusion probably serves the interests of some of the same  groups.  Rogozin makes it sound as if defense industry, rather than the military, will drive the train this time around.

Shoygu’s Inherited Dilemmas

Shoygu and Serdyukov

Shoygu and Serdyukov

Before Russia’s holiday topor fully enshrouded military commentators, Gazeta’s Sergey Smirnov published an interesting piece on the situation in which Defense Minister Shoygu finds himself.  There isn’t a lot of great comment on Shoygu yet, but it might be cranking up.  Smirnov looks at how the popular Shoygu could mar his well-regarded career while tackling the same accumulated military structural problems that faced his predecessor.  He writes about possible bureaucratic and personal conflicts with Sergey Ivanov, Sergey Chemezov, and Dmitriy Rogozin.

Leftover Problem One:  Contract Service

According to Smirnov, Russia’s military added virtually no contractees in 2012, but still has to recruit 50,000 of them every year until 2017 to reach its assigned target of 425,000.  The obstacles are the same.  Eighty percent of them don’t sign a second contract because the army doesn’t offer living conditions more attractive than barracks.  Undermanning is a related problem.  Smirnov says the military’s manpower is certainly below 800,000.  And Shoygu may have to acknowledge this problem.

Leftover Problem Two:  Bureaucratic Competitors

Smirnov describes Serdyukov’s conflict with Rogozin over the OPK and its production for the military.  He claims the “Petersburg group” of Sergey Ivanov, Chemezov, and Viktor Ivanov wanted one of its guys to take Serdyukov’s place at the Defense Ministry.  But Putin didn’t want to strengthen them, so he took the neutral figure Shoygu.

According to Smirnov, Serdyukov wanted out, and wanted to head a new arms exporting corporation to replace Rosoboroneksport.  That, of course, conflicted directly with Chemezov and the interests of the “Petersburgers.”  And Smirnov makes the interesting comment:

“But that appointment [Serdyukov to head a new arms exporter] didn’t happen precisely because of the big criminal cases which arose not by accident.”

Was Serdyukov done in for overreaching rather than for corruption scandals in the Defense Ministry?

Shoygu, writes Smirnov, was not thrilled at the prospect of continuing the “not very popular” army reforms.  Smirnov is left at the same point as everyone else:  will it be a “serious revision” of Serdyukov’s reforms or a “course correction?”

There’s lots of talk to indicate the former rather than the latter.  The new VVS CINC has bloviated about returning to one regiment per airfield instead of large, consolidated air bases.  He claims the Krasnodar, Syzran, and Chelyabinsk Aviation Schools will be reestablished.  He babbles about going to a three-service structure and retaking VVKO.  Shoygu will allow Suvorov and Nakhimov cadets to march in the May 9 Victory Parade.  He stopped the Military-Medical Academy’s move out of the center of Piter.  Other commonly mentioned possible revisions are returning to six MDs and transferring the Main Navy Staff back to Moscow.

Leftover Problem Three:  Outsourcing

Serdyukov’s outsourcing policy led to scandals, and didn’t work for the Russian military’s remote bases.  Gazeta’s Defense Ministry sources say the structure and activity of Oboronservis will likely be greatly modified or, less likely, Oboronservis will be completely disbanded if some workable entity can take its place.

Leftover Problem Four:  Military Towns

The military wants municipal authorities to take over the vast majority (70-90 percent) of a huge number of old military towns (that once numbered 23,000) no longer needed by Armed Forces units.  The army only wants some 200 of them now.

The local government wants the military to provide compensation to restore and support these towns, but the latter doesn’t have the funds.  The army is laying out billions of rubles in the next three years, but only to outfit 100 military towns it wants to use.  There is also the problem of who gets, or has the power to give away, legal title to this military property.

Leftover Problem Five:  Officer Housing

Shoygu, says Smirnov, has to solve the unresolved problem of officer housing, especially for officers “left at disposition” of their commanders (i.e. not retired but lacking duty posts and apartments).  The Defense Ministry still doesn’t know how many need housing.  Smirnov writes:

“Despite the fact that the military department daily reports on the handover of apartments, the line of officers retired from the army who are awaiting receipt of living space is not becoming smaller.  At present from 80 to 150 [thousand] former officers are awaiting the presentation of housing.”

More than enough lingering headaches for one Defense Minister.

Power Couple

Putin Congratulates Knyazeva

No, not newly-minted General-Major Yelena Knyazeva and President Putin.  The couple is Knyazeva and her husband, Deputy Chairman of the Moscow City Duma, Andrey Metelskiy.

It’s not surprising Kremlin.ru published this picture of the Supreme Glavk shaking Knyazeva’s hand instead of some run-of-the-mill male general’s.

When Putin elevated the fiftyish Knyazeva to one-star rank last month, the Russian press noted his decree gave the Armed Forces a female general for the first time in a number of years.

The last one was the world’s first woman in space, Valentina Tereshkova, who reached general-major in the 1990s.  Media reports added that several women currently hold general officer ranks in the MVD and other uniformed federal services.

This year the Russian Armed Forces indicated having 3,000 female officers in the ranks, a 50 percent increase over 2011.  There were 28 (now 27, of course) women colonels.  There were only 12 female O-6s in 2011, according to RIA Novosti.

Yelena Georgiyevna is Deputy Chief of the Defense Ministry’s Main Directorate for International Military Cooperation.  Before that, she headed the English Department at Moscow’s Military University.  That university now encompasses the Military Institute of Foreign Languages (VIIYa) where she graduated and taught for many years.

She became chief of VIIYa’s English faculty in 1995.  Her participation in international projects during the heyday of Russia-NATO cooperation provided a logical segue to her current duties.  But her timing was fortuitous too.

Under Serdyukov, women emerged in various top Defense Ministry posts, although Knyazeva’s case was somewhat different because she rose inside the military department.

At VIIYa, Knyazeva met her future husband, Andrey Metelskiy, according to Krasnaya zvezda.  Some eight or nine years her junior, Metelskiy studied Farsi and French at the military institute.

Andrey Metelskiy (photo: Volgorad.er.ru)

Metelskiy’s an interesting figure.  In a Bratishka.ru interview, he indicates he was an 18-year-old lieutenant (!?) serving in Afghanistan when he was wounded in 1986.

After finishing VIIYa and leaving the army, Metelskiy was a businessman with a somewhat confusing political biography.  One observer claims he was a Derzhava supporter who only emerged in the youth section of Unity in early 2000.

But Metelskiy’s mainline biography says he was a deputy chairman of the Moscow city branch of Unity before the December 1999 State Duma elections.  He went on to be first deputy of the Moscow regional branch of Unity’s successor, United Russia.

Metelskiy was elected to the Moscow City Duma in 2001, and is currently in his third term.  He has been a Duma Deputy Chairman since 2004, and heads the United Russia faction which holds an overwhelming 32 of 35 seats in the municipal legislature.  Metelskiy represents the Izmaylovo area in northeastern Moscow.

The observer above recounts a legal dustup in late 2005 between Metelskiy and Rodina’s Dmitriy Rogozin who accused him of sporting military awards he didn’t earn.  But Metelskiy won a defamation case against today’s deputy prime minister for the OPK.

On Medvedevu.ru, a man tells his version of a 2009 car accident with Knyazeva, Metelskiy, and their Lexus.  According to him, Metelskiy denied causing the crash, threatened him, and advised him to forget the whole incident.  Nor did the victim get satisfaction after wending his way through the court system for a couple years.

Knyazeva and Metelskiy are an interesting and well-connected Moscow power couple.  Putin was probably just renewing his acquaintance with Knyazeva since it’s more than likely they’d already met given her husband’s position.

Not a Fish, But a Crawdad (Part I)

It’s nice when you send yourself on a sabbatical.  But it’s terrible when your first post of the month doesn’t come until the 24th.  Seriously, this author should be flogged for neglecting the reader.  And he isn’t exactly prepared to dive back into frenetic posting either.  Only to hang more text out here now and again.

Serdyukov with Putin (photo: AFP)

This topic and title were stolen from Topwar.ru.  The site picked up on Kommersant’s examination of why Anatoliy Serdyukov was one of only five ministers to retain his post in the first Putin 2.0 government.

Kommersant claims Serdyukov came somewhat close to being retired in December when, at then-Prime Minister Putin’s behest, FSB Director Bortnikov searched out potential replacements.  Bortnikov looked at Rostekh’s Chemezov, Roskosmos’ Popovkin, and Deputy PM and OPK steward Rogozin.  The former pair convinced Putin of the “inexpedience” of making either of them Defense Minister in Serdyukov’s place.  Rogozin reportedly was willing, but, of course, already had a higher-ranking post.

Kommersant’s Ivan Safronov cited Aleksandr Kanshin and a Defense Ministry apparat source to the effect that Putin decided it’d be better to have Serdyukov see the military reform process through to its conclusion.

For its part, Topwar.ru also attributes Serdyukov’s “unsinkability” to a desire to avoid changing leadership in the midst of reform.  It also writes that Anatoliy Eduardovich turned out to be, at least in some ways, the best available and most willing candidate.  Topwar sums Serdyukov’s position up with this adage:

“When there aren’t any fish, even a crawdad is a fish.”

But Anatoliy Rak isn’t likely to replace Taburetkin as a nickname for the Defense Minister.

The most interesting part of Topwar’s account, however, may be the large number of commentaries, which we’ll look at in part II of this post.