Friday Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed a year-ending expanded meeting of the MOD Collegium. Below are highlights from his speech, and from Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu’s. Putin also met separately with Russia’s Military District (MD) commanders, but no transcript was made available.
According to Kremlin.ru, Putin told the Collegium that Russia’s intervention in Syria was prompted not by “incomprehensible abstract geopolitical interests,” nor by the “desire to train [military forces] and test new weapons systems,” although he called the latter “important.” Rather Putin insisted Russian operations in Syria aim to stop the immediate threat ISIL terrorists pose to the Russian Federation.
Putin told his audience Russian assistance has enabled Damascus to take the offensive in several regions. As far as other claims of success, the Supreme CINC said only:
“. . . the systematic employment of the forces of the VKS [Aerospace Forces] and Navy, and the use of the newest highly-accurate weapons systems has enabled us to deliver serious damage to the infrastructure of the terrorists, and therefore qualitatively change the situation in Syria.”
He vowed to protect Russian troops saying, “Any targets threatening the Russian grouping or our ground infrastructure will be destroyed immediately.”
Putin then turned to Russian Armed Forces developments and training. He urged the military not to consider this year’s wartime preparation training by civilian authorities in 14 Russian Federation subjects to be a “secondary” mission. He mentioned five (not surprising) points of emphasis about this year and next:
- The updated five-year defense plan (2016-2020);
- Rearmament and the effective use of the budget;
- Strategic nuclear forces and aerospace defense;
- Increasing the intensity of operational and tactical training;
- Greater cooperation with allies, the CSTO in particular.
Again, he paused to note the need to eliminate shortcomings in territorial defense training in Russia’s regions.
Before turning the mic over to Shoygu, the president stated that the MOD has provided permanent or service housing to 146,000 servicemen over the last four years.
Defense Minister Shoygu outlined first the threat to Russia from an expanding NATO, then from ISIL. He made the following significant points about 2015:
- Russia’s armed forces are manned at 92 percent of their authorized level, including 352,000 contractees (i.e. more than the number of conscripts).
- Six RS-24 Yars (SS-27 Mod 2) regiments were put into service.
- The share of modern armaments in the RVSN is 51 percent.
- Two Tu-160, three Tu-95MS, and five Tu-22M3 bombers were modernized.
- SSBNs carry 56 percent modern weapons.
- Overall, Russian strategic forces are 55 percent modern.
- Eight new brigades of various types were formed in the Ground Troops.
- The Ground Troops acquired 1,772 tanks and armored vehicles, 148 missile and artillery systems, 2,292 vehicles, and two brigade sets of Iskander-M.
- Ground Troops’ arms and equipment are 35 percent modern.
- The VKS acquired 243 aircraft of various types, 90 SAM and 208 radar systems.
- The VKS are 52 percent modern.
- The VKS operate 1,720 UAV systems against only 180 in 2011.
- The Navy received two submarines and eight surface ships.
- The Navy’s modern equipment constitutes 39 percent of its inventory.
- The VDV’s modern arms are 41 percent of its total.
- Overall, the armed forces now have 47 percent modern weapons and other equipment, surpassing the goal of 30 percent by 2015.
- The in-service rate of equipment is 89 percent.
- There were nine candidates for every seat in MOD VVUZy this year.
Shoygu’s annual report contained many other details summarizing the MOD’s activities this year.
In 2016, he expects the following:
- Steps to strengthen groupings in the western, south-western, and Arctic strategic directions.
- Five RVSN missile regiments will go on duty with modern missiles.
- Two Tu-160 and seven Tu-95MS bombers will be modernized.
- Two brigade sets each of Iskander-M and Tornado-S MLRS, and one of Buk-3M SAMs will reach the Ground Troops.
- Six battalions will receive new tanks and BMPs.
- VKS and Navy will get more than 200 new or modernized aircraft.
- Five regiments will receive S-400 SAMs.
- Three Voronezh-DM and Voronezh-M radars will enter service.
- The Navy will get two submarines and seven surface ships.
- The armed forces will conduct strategic CSX Kavkaz-2016.
The reader may wish to look back to this 2014 year-ender to make some year-on-year comparisons.
Turning to Putin’s meeting with his top regional commanders, we don’t know what was discussed, but it’s a good pic and a chance to update the lineup and face recce.
From the extreme left around the table with Putin in the center, attendees included Unified Strategic Command North Commander Admiral Vladimir Korolev, Southern MD Commander General-Colonel Aleksandr Galkin, Eastern MD Commander General-Colonel Sergey Surovikin, Defense Minister Shoygu, Putin, General Staff Chief Army General Valeriy Gerasimov, Central MD Commander General-Colonel Vladimir Zarudnitskiy, and new Western MD Commander General-Colonel Andrey Kartapolov.