Tag Archives: GU MVS

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.

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Civilians Now Top Military Diplomats

There’s great interest in the new civilian chief of the Defense Ministry’s Main Directorate for International Military Cooperation (GU MVS).  With yesterday’s decree, President Medvedev appointed career diplomat Sergey Mikhaylovich Koshelev to this post.  Koshelev had been Deputy Director of the Foreign Ministry’s Department of Security and Disarmament Issues (DVBR or ДВБР).

Koshelev’s appointment followed that of former DVBR Director Anatoliy Antonov to be Deputy Defense Minister for International Military Cooperation.  So presumably close colleagues Koshelev and Antonov will collaborate again to promote Russia’s military interaction with foreign armies, with the former acting as the latter’s right hand.  The burgeoning “reload” or “reset” with the U.S. Defense Department and with NATO will be a principal preoccupation. 

According to ITAR-TASS, Koshelev has concentrated on strategic negotiations — including START, INF, missile defense, and military space issues — during his diplomatic career.  Today’s Rossiyskaya gazeta notes Koshelev had an active hand in negotiating the new START Treaty with the U.S.  The paper forecasts  he will be active on the issue of European missile defense.

Kommersant writes that Koshelev was born in Moscow on 26 June 1957.  In 1983, he graduated from the Institute of the Countries of Asia and Africa, proceeding to work in the diplomatic service in India.  From 1995, he worked on export control in the DVBR.  In 1998-2003, Koshelev was a counsellor in Moscow’s permanent mission to the U.N. Disarmament Conference in Geneva.  In addition to serving as DVBR Deputy Director, he was also chief of its multilateral disarmament section.  He was promoted to Russia’s third highest diplomatic rank — Envoy Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Second Class — in 2008.

Gazeta.ru and Gzt.ru postulate, not without some basis, that Antonov and Koshelev will be part of a new negotiating team for the Mistral purchase.

It’ll be interesting to see what Koshelev and Antonov do with GU MVS, a storied organization somewhat adrift in recent years.  Koshelev relieves acting chief, Colonel Yelena Knyazeva, an interesting character in her own right.  The press notes that General-Major Aleksey Sukhov was dismissed in 2010.  His predecessor was General-Lieutenant Vladimir Fedorov, who had headed the UVS — External Relations Directorate, charged with supervising foreign military attaches in Russia and Russian ones abroad.  We’ve noted on these pages that General-Colonel Anatoliy Mazurkevich left in a hurry when Defense Minister Serdyukov arrived, and General-Colonel Leonid Ivashov discovered the Defense Ministry wasn’t big enough for him and Sergey Ivanov.

So GU MVS once got its leadership from the ranks of Russia’s military diplomats, its military attaches, i.e. from its military intelligence officers and the GRU.  In Gzt.ru, Ivashov described the old GU MVS as an “instrument for warning of military dangers and threats to the USSR and Russia” [i.e. the GRU’s strategic military intelligence mission], but he acknowledged those days are gone and this main directorate has been “reformed” in recent years.

Ivashov’s Inevitable Revolution

Leonid Ivashov

Ex-GU MVS Chief, retired General-Colonel Leonid Ivashov was apparently either asked or inspired to comment recently on the revolutions in North Africa.  And his comments got some press play beyond the blog where they originally appeared.  Ivashov is an inveterate conservative who always has sharp jabs for the U.S., NATO, and globalization.  But he’s an interesting guy whose anti-Western commentaries usually end up criticizing the Kremlin and Russian policies as well.

They apparently asked Ivashov whether Russia needs to fear a repetition of Tunisian, Egyptian, or Libyan events.  He goes on for a couple paragraphs with his view that the Arab world’s lagging behind in economic and social development explains what happened in North Africa.  Then he turns to its relevance for Russia:

“The situation is much more complex in Russia.  A revolution here is unavoidable.  It will become an attempt to find its own future and course of development that preserves Russia as a unitary state, both Russian and remaining native peoples – as a national-social formation.  Under the current course and regime, Russia has no future.  Catastrophe looms ahead – the country’s division and collapse, the departure of the Russian world from the historical arena.  These are objective data – when you look at government statistics even, your hairs stand on end.  There are approximately one hundred million Russians, 23 million alcoholics, 6 million drug addicts, 6 million sick with AIDS, 4 million prostitutes.  We have the very highest percentage of disadvantaged families, for every thousand marriages, 640 divorces.  Revolutionary transformations are simply necessary.  Let’s hope to God they come in a peaceful way.”

“What is happening now in the Middle East gives us reason to talk also about our degradation.  Yes, Mubarak, Qaddafi and the rest stole, hoarded riches for themselves, however there has never been in the history of a single state such complete plunder as is occurring now in Russia.  Two oligarchic clans, privatizers of resources and bureaucrats have sucked everything out of the people and the country.  Real incomes of the population in January compared with January of last year have decreased by 47%.  Oil gets more expensive — our gas gets more expensive.  Oil gets cheaper — our gas still gets more expensive.  Prices for food and other things constantly increase.”

“A handful of powerful bureaucrats and oligarchs close to them understand perfectly that there’s no avoiding a revolution.  Therefore they’re hurrying to suck everything up and tie their business to foreign structures.  So that when they start taking their assets away, they can call on NATO to defend them.”

“Russia doesn’t have its own Middle East geopolitical project.  We are extremely inconsistent — we sign military agreements with Israel, we institute sanctions against Iran, irritating the Islamic world.  Medvedev calls Qaddafi a criminal for firing on his own people.  At the same time, they put up monuments to Yeltsin who fired on his own people and his own parliament.  Such a contradiction shows the complete cynicism of our current vlasti.”

“The fighting in Russia will undoubtedly begin, and it will be, unfortunately, much more severe — since the country is multinational.  In the Middle East, they call their own Arab presidents occupiers, but we also have other peoples.  And if anti-Semitism in the Arab East is aimed beyond the borders of their own countries, at Israel or the U.S., then Russian anti-Semitism is directed inward.”

Serdyukov’s Anniversary

Putin Welcomes Serdyukov as Ivanov Looks On

The fourth anniversary of Anatoliy Serdyukov’s appointment came and went quietly enough on 15 February.  But WikiLeaks has come through as if to mark the occasion.  

On Friday, it posted an Amembassy Moscow assessment of Defense Minister Serdyukov a month and a half after he arrived in the “Arbat Military District.”  Mindful of hindsight bias, one can’t judge this cable too harshly.  But it’s an interesting retrospective on what was expected of the man going in, and what has happened since.

As stated all over the Russian media, Amembassy anticipated Serdyukov would impose discipline on the “Ministry’s notoriously loose financial control system,” and not otherwise initiate major changes.

Aleksandr Golts told Amembassy:

“Serdyukov’s inexperience on military issues would undermine his credibility with the General Staff and other senior officers, hindering his ability to push through needed reforms.”

A bit silly in retrospect.  Yes, he had no credibility with the Genshtab, nor it with him.  But he didn’t care and pushed right through the Genshtab, cutting the Genshtab (it suffered first in the reforms) and building his own bureaucratic machinery in the Defense Ministry.

Amembassy claimed that Serdyukov dismissed then-Chief of the Main Directorate of International Military Cooperation (GU MVS) General-Colonel Anatoliy Mazurkevich, and that Serdyukov’s auditors might be driving other corrupt officers into resignations or dismissals.

The cable describes the Defense Minister aptly as a “detail-oriented micromanager and ruthless policy administrator.” 

But what it doesn’t note (and what has become patently obvious over the last four years) is that the Defense Ministry, and the Russian military, is an unwieldy and untidy establishment not well-suited to micromanagement.  Talk about trying to turn an aircraft carrier on a dime . . . not gonna happen here. 

A couple stories come to mind . . . Serdyukov trying to put new uniforms on the troops, one of his first initiatives.  Now maybe only 20 percent of the troops have them, and the parents of those that do say the new uniforms aren’t as good against the cold as the old ones.

Also, Serdyukov talking about one new brigade commander who didn’t implement his directives.  It’s a big country and a big army.  What Moscow says isn’t always relevant in Chita, etc.

Next, Amembassy summarized the views of Ivan Safranchuk this way:

“He thought the Ministry establishment would try to ‘outlast’ any reforms that Serdyukov sought to impose, with the brass counting on Serdyukov to adjust to their way of thinking — or at least to stay out of their way.  Safranchuk told us that former DefMin Ivanov ultimately had not made a significant impact on how things functioned within the Ministry, despite his reform efforts, and predicted the same fate for Serdyukov.”

This one turned out to be pretty wrong, didn’t it?  There may still be some elements awaiting Serdyukov’s departure and a return to the way things used to be, but too much has changed.  The military establishment can’t ever be exactly what it used to be.  And the brass was definitely no match for Serdyukov, and he didn’t stay out of their way, but rather sent many of them down the highway.  And this Defense Minister has had a greater impact in four years than Sergey Ivanov in nearly six.  Ivanov’s fate was not to be Putin’s successor, and to muddle around in his next job, i.e. First Deputy PM.  As for Serdyukov’s fate, we’ll have to see.  As for his impact, at least some is likely to be lasting.  How long?  Only until the next determined reformer arrives.  None of this is to say Serdyukov’s impact is all positive, mind you.  Some changes may have messed things up worse than they were.  But he got reform off the dime in a way Ivanov never dreamed.

Here’s video of Putin’s meeting with Ivanov and Serdyukov on 15 February 2007.

The cable continues:

“Sergey Sumbayev, a former journalist with Krasnaya zvezda (Red Star), told us that management and accountability within the Ministry were dysfunctional and fostered inefficiency and corruption.  He referred both to financial accountability and responsibility for policy implementation.  Sumbayev thought the Ministry’s entrenched bureaucracy resisted, mostly successfully, institutional change, which generated considerable waste and delayed delivery of modern weapons systems to the armed forces.”

Sumbayev also told Amembassy:

“. . . management experience and tenacious work ethic make [Serdyukov] the ideal ‘technical’ manager that the Ministry needs.  While acknowledging Serdyukov’s political connections, Sumbayev did not think Serdyukov harbored any political ambitions.  He was chosen mainly for his managerial expertise, loyalty, and willingness to please his political bosses.  Serdyukov could probably make progress in streamlining the Ministry’s management structure, reducing waste, and exerting more control over its financial accounting systems.  One year, however, would not be sufficient to accomplish these tasks.”

“Sumbayev speculated that keeping the General Staff off-balance and focused on internal matters over the next year was one of Putin’s objectives in appointing Serdyukov. In this respect, he suggested that Serdyukov had a mandate to shake things up in the Ministry without sparking too much discontent.”

Amembassy concluded that:

“Serdyukov has his work cut out for him in bringing order to a Ministry badly in need of reform.”

Serdyukov’s made progress, but this final assessment probably remains true four years on.

New Deputy Defense Minister

Antonov with Medvedev and Serdyukov (photo: Kremlin.ru)

Today President Medvedev made Anatoliy Ivanovich Antonov Deputy Defense Minister for International Military Cooperation.  He’ll bear responsibility for organizing and conducting the Ministry’s contacts with foreign military departments.  Kremlin.ru notes Antonov was one of the negotiators for the new Treaty on Strategic Offensive Arms.  Medvedev said Antonov’s experience in this successful negotiating process will enable him to fulfill his new duties effectively.

Anatoliy Antonov

PIR-Tsentr’s short biography of Ambassador Antonov says he’s been serving as Director of the Foreign Ministry’s Security and Disarmament Issues Department.  He was born in 1955.  In 1978, he graduated the USSR Foreign Ministry’s Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO or МГИМО).  In 1983, he completed graduate study at the same institution.  Antonov’s worked in the Foreign Ministry since 1978.  He’s headed government delegations in G8, NPT, Inhumane Weapons Convention, and multilateral export control negotiations.  He’s a member of the U.N. Secretary General’s Consultative Council on Disarmament.

In mid-2007, Antonov helped then-President Putin unveil his offer to use Russia’s Gabala and Armavir radars in NATO missile defense, according to Novosti KM.RU.

Antonov makes nine deputies to Serdyukov; a tenth deputy slot for finance-economic work has been vacant since Vera Chistova’s departure in the fall.

Antonov’s quite different from his predecessors in this job.

International military cooperation seemed to fall off the Defense Ministry’s radar for a while after Anatoliy Serdyukov took over.  You may recall, former Main Directorate for International Military Cooperation (GU MVS) Chief, General-Colonel Anatoliy Mazurkevich fled the Defense Ministry when Serdyukov arrived.  GU MVS essentially disappeared from the military department’s organizational chart.

GU MVS’ roots stretch back to the General Staff’s old 10th Main Directorate, which had a long history of involvement in arranging arms sales and providing military advisors and training to Soviet client states in the bad old days.

Moscow Upgrading CSTO?

Nogovitsyn to be First Deputy Chief of CSTO's Joint Staff (photo: http://www.1tv.ru)

Several days ago, the Russian press reported General-Colonel Nogovitsyn, a deputy chief of the Genshtab and Russian military spokesman during the war with Georgia, would be moving to the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).  Nogovitsyn’s an air defense fighter pilot and former deputy CINC of the Air Forces who lost out to Zelin in the bidding to become CINC.  He will replace General-Lieutenant Oleg Latypov, who was not an operator, but a military diplomat who came from the Russian Defense Ministry’s Main Directorate of International Military Cooperation (GU MVS) and had experience in arranging arms sales, supplies, and military activities with former Soviet states.

Nogovitsyn’s move could be a pre-retirement posting or it could mean a little more emphasis on the Russian-led grouping.  Today, Interfaks-AVN reports that an operations center will be established for the Collective Rapid Reaction Force within the CSTO’s Joint Staff.  The chief of the center will be a general-lieutenant and deputy chief of the Joint Staff.  These changes follow decisions on a new structure and functions the CSTO made at its meeting last June.