Tag Archives: Konstantin Makiyenko

Not Enough Resources (Addendum)

Ruslan Pukhov

In Friday’s NVO, CAST Director Ruslan Pukhov expounded on Konstantin Makiyenko’s thoughts about whether Russia’s current military modernization plan is doable.  And he offered ideas on how to make it more doable.

Pukhov points out that, in addition to 19 trillion rubles for military modernization, the Kremlin is footing bills for higher military pay, better living conditions, and housing as well as intensified combat training.  Liberal critics question whether the government can afford a greater defense burden at a time when it also needs to modernize infrastructure, health care, and education.

The planned military expenditures seem, Pukhov continues, balanced and acceptable, following 15 years of army underfinancing.  They shouldn’t threaten the country’s development.

Still, he says, skeptics have a point.  Vladimir Putin’s plan presupposes a decade of growth in the economy, perhaps not dynamic, but growth.  However, it’s also highly possible we’ll see stagnation or even recession in an economy which, with oil prices over $100, shows meager (for a developing market) growth of four percent.

Then Pukhov really gets to it.

With the slightest decline in hydrocarbon prices, “Putin’s preelection promises, including also in the military sphere, will become unfulfillable.”  And the Finance Ministry is developing plans to trim defense spending by 0.5 percent of GDP.

Pukhov asserts the Defense Ministry can continue transforming the armed forces if it sacrifices quantity for quality and foregoes more “metal” for human capital investments.

First, he says abandon the official but never explained million-man army manning level in favor of 700,000 or 600,000 personnel.

Second, the state should meet all its social obligations to servicemen and continue training by skipping some procurement.  The only “holy cow” would be strategic nuclear deterrence forces.

Third, Pukhov suggests sacrificing some planned naval development.  He offers that, as the world’s fifth or sixth largest economy, Russia simply can’t afford to recreate a global navy.  First on the chopping block, Mistral and renovated Kirov-class CGNs.

But Pukhov doesn’t sound fully convinced himself.  Some points not made need to be noted.

Pukhov should know Moscow has already gone well below one million men, if only semi-officially.  There isn’t much savings in reduced conscript numbers.  Pukhov doesn’t mention the huge “human capital” expense of trying (once again) to recruit professional contract soldiers.  The word corruption — the proverbial elephant in this room — isn’t uttered either.  The state already accepts 20, perhaps 40, percent less military than it pays for.  That’s where real savings are.  Foregoing some “metal” is a good idea, but Pukhov has scarcely begun to sort out what Russia’s acquisition priorities should be.

Mr. Pukhov should be commended for addressing this topic, but his critique is pretty mild.  He may still be attacked for it by some.  A much more radical restructuring of Russia’s military development program than Pukhov’s may eventually be needed to save it.

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Not Enough Resources

Konstantin Makiyenko (photo: Radio Mayak / Kirill Kurganov)

Still parsing reaction to Prime Minister Putin’s manifesto on the army . . . there are lots of positive reviews and recapitulations.  But commentators who don’t exactly agree with Putin are far more interesting and illuminating.

One particularly fitting this description is Konstantin Makiyenko, who makes succinct, obvious, and bravely ventured points.

Makiyenko, Deputy Director of CAST, is by no means anti-regime.  He is, however, honest.  His observations appeared in Interfaks-AVN, and you can read them courtesy of VPK.name.

He concludes simply that Russia may not have the resources for the plan of major army and defense industry modernization Putin laid out in his campaign article:

“The Russian economic system, which, with oil prices at 100 dollars a barrel, provides only four percent GDP growth, isn’t capable of being the base for realizing the plans outlined.”

AVN says Makiyenko doesn’t exclude that, owing to insufficient budgetary resources, the Finance Ministry will have to work out plans for future cuts in spending on national defense.  But, at the same time, he apparently said Putin’s manifesto on the army wasn’t populist, and he has “no objection” to majority of the Premier’s proposals.

But Makiyenko lays down a sharp, if understated, critique of Putin’s stewardship of Russia’s defenses since 1999.  Agreeing that nuclear deterrence has been the only guarantee of Russia’s security, Makiyenko continues:

“In this relation, the current situation is in no way different from the state of affairs in the 1990s, when, as it’s justly noted in [Putin’s] article, ‘other weighty material arguments didn’t exist.'”

“. . . adequately evaluating the situation now, one has to admit that even today other ‘material arguments’ haven’t appeared for Russia during the last 12 years.”

“In this connection, the thought about how one should particularly attentively follow the appearance of new technical means, for example MD systems and long-range, precision non-nuclear means, capable of devaluing Russia’s nuclear deterrence potential, are very important.”

So, conventional weakness drives Russian objections to MD, one supposes.

AVN also indicated Makiyenko is skeptical of Putin’s call for public-private partnerships and more private capital investment in the OPK given that the once-and-future Supreme CINC nationalized first-class companies like Irkut and Saturn.

GOZ War Winding Down?

Vedomosti’s Aleksey Nikolskiy sees a possible end to the conflict between the Defense Ministry and industry over the production of strategic nuclear systems.  His OSK source claims a multiyear Defense Ministry contract with Sevmash for proyekt 955 Borey-class SSBNs will be concluded in the coming week.  This would reportedly leave OSK with just one contract remaining to be completed.

Conclusion of a 40-billion-ruble contract for three proyekt 11356M frigates was announced Wednesday.

Vedomosti’s source said the Defense Ministry and OSK also finished a deal for proyekt 885 Yasen-class SSNs several days ago.  The paper once again cites Konstantin Makiyenko’s 500 billion ruble price tag for the new SSBNs and SSNs.

An industry source tells Vedomosti that all MIT’s ballistic missile contracts are complete.

While deals for renovating Russia’s strategic forces are apparently done at last, not all contracts for conventional armaments are finished, particularly those involving Rostekhnologii and its enterprises, according to the director of one of them.

What’s this mean?

The conclusion of submarine / SLBM / ICBM production contracts would be a relief to both sides since their absence has been the biggest GOZ news story.  If all this is done, or almost done, one would expect a major government or Defense Ministry press announcement soon.

If the submarine deals are worth 500 billion rubles, that is, once again, apparently closer to Defense Minister Serdyukov’s price than to OSK’s.

The proyekt 11356M frigates are updated Krivaks (or Talwars for India), and they aren’t exactly cheap.

The issue of incomplete contracts with Rostekhnologii’s enterprises is significant given the size and breadth of their work on weapons and military equipment.  People will ask which enterprises and systems are in question.  It also contradicts Serdyukov’s recent claims that only OSK deals needed to be inked, and implies there are lingering problems and issues in areas other than shipbuilding.

Nikolskiy on GOZ-2010 Failures

On Tuesday, Vedomosti’s Aleksey Nikolskiy wrote about breakdowns in last year’s State Defense Order (GOZ).  He notes that concern about failures started with Roskosmos, but it isn’t limited to that part of the defense sector.

Nikolskiy recounts Deputy Prime Minister Sergey Ivanov’s session with the Roskosmos collegium.  The space industry only produced five of 11 satellites specified in GOZ-2010, and 6 civilian launches were postponed.  The three GLONASS satellites lost to a “childish mistake” [in filling the rocket’s tanks] cost 2.5 billion rubles.  But we’ll return to Russia’s space woes another day. 

A Defense Ministry source tells Nikolskiy GOZ failures are constant. 

Bulava SLBM delays kept Yuriy Dolgorukiy from entering service [remember the new SSBN itself had to return to Sevmash for work while it awaits the next Bulava test].  Introduction of the new Severodvinsk SSN has been put off until much later because of construction defects.  A United Shipbuilding Corporation (OSK) source tells Nikolskiy the Defense Ministry has stopped financing completion of a proyekt 677 diesel-electric sub, and work on two others laid down at Admiralty Wharves is in question.

Nikolskiy says the Air Forces’ assimilation of Yak-130 trainers is delayed by last March’s crash.  And there’s a serious delay in the testing of the Su-35 fighter, according to a Defense Ministry officer [Sukhoy was reportedly testing two Su-35s last August].  One enterprise manager claims reforms in the Defense Ministry purchasing system are holding back contracting for aircraft deliveries this year. 

CAST’s Konstantin Makiyenko says government and Defense Ministry criticism of industry for its GOZ failures could be followed by personnel changes.  In Roskosmos’ case, the situation is almost “overripe.”  But Makiyenko defends other Russian arms producers by noting that delivery delays are common even for U.S. and European manufacturers.

Mistral — For and Against

Last Friday, Nezavisimoye voyennoye obozreniye’s Viktor Litovkin covered a round table discussing Russia’s likely purchase of the Mistral helicopter carrier.  He was also one of the main speakers.  CAST sponsored the meeting, and Konstantin Makiyenko set the table with a general talk about amphibious assault ships and the world market for them.

Igor Korotchenko spoke in favor of purchasing the French ship, but not very convincingly.

According to Litovkin, Korotchenko made the following argument.  The Mistral purchase is part of a political-economic agreement between Moscow and Paris.  And so France will obviously win the Defense Ministry’s coming international tender.  This French ship will be extremely useful to the Russian Navy, and strengthen its combat capability.  Then Korotchenko seemed to imply that Mistral is less important as a naval platform than as a symbol of Franco-Russian military-technical cooperation, and France’s independence of the United States.

This view is a bit Cold War, and not particularly reflective of Moscow’s current effort to buy military capabilities abroad, and use them to improve the armed forces and defense industrial production at home.

Litovkin said the Mistral purchase raises a series of questions.  First, why does Russia need it?  The expeditionary missions for which it’s intended aren’t tasks for the Russian Navy under the new military doctrine, according to him.  If, as First Deputy Defense Minister Popovkin has said, Mistral is based in the Northern and Pacific Fleets, it’s senseless because Russia’s not very likely to land its troops on Norwegian, Japanese, or Chinese shores.  Second, Mistral needs to be part of a multipurpose naval grouping by virtue of its weak self-defense.  And Litovkin says Russia isn’t exactly laying down lots of other ships to escort and protect it.  Third, it’s not clear that a new base to support Mistral will be built.  Soviet-built proyekt 1123 and 1143 helicopter carriers (Moskva, Leningrad, Kiev, and Minsk) bobbed at anchor, lacked support, and were ultimately sold for scrap.

Aleksey Bezborodov starts from the state of the state of Russian shipbuilding.  Even if Russia tries to build the third and fourth Mistral units, shipyards won’t be able to manage it because they’ve lost many technical capabilities.  He maintains Russia doesn’t have an enterprise that can make engines for Mistral.

Makiyenko and Ilya Kramnik took issues with these ‘pessimists.’  The former noted that GPV 2011-2012 may include 15 frigates, 20 corvettes, etc.  The latter argued for acquiring Mistral because the Navy’s missions and requirements and Russia’s doctrine could change over the ships’ lives.  He sees it as a good platform for showing the flag and defending Russian interests abroad, and a hedge against future problems.

Litovkin says the discussion only went two hours, and it’s a shame General Staff and Navy representatives weren’t there to share their opinions.

Tender for Helicopter Carriers May Just Be Formality

Mistral Schematic

Kommersant reports today that United Shipbuilding Corporation (OSK) has gotten the Defense Ministry’s permission to hold an open tender for procurement of helicopter carriers.  The paper concludes the Defense Ministry is refraining from a sole-source purchase of the French Mistral, and will consider similar proposals from OSK’s shipyards.  But the military [at least some military officials] haven’t hidden the fact that they prefer Mistral [but Defense Minister Serdyukov has always maintained they’ve been talking to other suppliers], so the tender could just be a formality. 

OSK President Roman Trotsenko says a special commission from the Ministry of Industry and Trade will conduct the tender, but details are sketchy.  A Defense Ministry source told Kommersant that, without a tender, a deal to buy a helicopter carrier [presumably Mistral] would be considered illegal.  So there won’t be a sole-source buy despite a year of government-to-government talks.

The paper reminds readers of OSK’s recent unsuccessful antimonopoly complaint in regard to the government’s consideration of Mistral.  Although the complaint was not reviewed, it must have had some impact on the decision to compete the helicopter carrier purchase.  Kommersant sources say OSK Board Chairman Igor Sechin also had something to do with it.

Trotsenko says far east shipbuilding plant ‘Zvezda,’ Petersburg’s ‘Admiralty Wharves,’ and Kaliningrad’s ‘Yantar’ will bid for the ships.  ‘Zvezda’ already has a joint venture in place with South Korea’s Daewoo – builder of the Dokdo helicopter carrier.  The OSK President says ‘Admiralty’ and ‘Yantar’ might work with ‘Northern’ shipyard or a foreign builder. 

Kommersant has a letter sent from Sechin to Prime Minister Putin this spring saying not only is Dokdo an alternative to Mistral, but Dutch and Spanish helicopter carriers are as well.

Trotsenko says OSK yards can build a helicopter carrier in 30 months for $500-700 million against a Mistral pricetag of €420-680 million.

Kommersant concludes the tender won’t end the conflict between OSK and the Defense Ministry.  Mistral will remain the latter’s priority.  The paper’s sources don’t know if the military wants to buy Mistral itself or place an order for a new unit in a French shipyard (STX).  OSK hasn’t been able to arrange a cooperative agreement with STX.

Mezhprombank-controlled ‘Northern’ and ‘Baltic’ shipyards will participate in the tender according to a representative of the bank. Kommersant’s sources think Mezhprombank, its owner Sergey Pugachev, and shipyards are the favorites among Russian contenders.  Pugachev was an early supporter of buying French, then building other units in his shipyards.  And, according to Kommersant, the Defense Ministry supports Pugachev.

Alongside Pugachev and Mezhprombank, OSK feels its chances to win the tender aren’t great.  Moscow Defense Brief analyst Mikhail Barabanov also says Mezhprombank yards are the favorites to build Mistral in Russia.  Such a deal’s been reached at a political level between Paris and Moscow, so the tender might just be a formality.  CAST’s Konstantin Makiyenko agrees.  But he thinks Mistral orders will go to ‘Baltic,’ since ‘Northern’ is loaded with frigate and corvette orders.  Meanwhile, OSK would like to buy both yards from Mezhprombank, but the sides haven’t reached agreement on a price.

Kramnik on Vostok-2010 and Military Reform

This is complete finally.

Ilya Kramnik’s RIA Novosti piece about the exercise has been quoted by others, but it hasn’t gotten attention as a whole on its own.

So what does Kramnik think?  He cites Makiyenko to the effect that Vostok-2010 showed that reform has been positive for the army, but there are, of course, problems.  Troops aren’t uniformly well-trained, and the failure of contract service has really hurt.  But Kramnik gives Defense Minister Serdyukov a lot of credit, on the order of being a 21st century Milyutin.  But back to the problems again.  Things like contract service, tension over officer cuts and premium pay, military education cuts, and the failure to deliver new weapons have to be fixed.  But Kramnik believes Serdyukov is the kind of guy who’ll go back and fix what he didn’t get right or get done.  Then Kramnik shifts to the type of conflict the military reform is preparing the Russian Army to fight.  Obviously [?] not a nuclear one, but rather, again turning to Makiyenko, a Central Asian local war scenario that might threaten the RF’s internal stability.  The conclusion is that, if reform stays on track and occurs quickly, the army will be able to meet this challenge.  Some, however, might well argue that even a properly and rapidly reformed Russian Army might not be enough to contain and damp down the kind of conflagration Makiyenko describes.  Finally, Kramnik concludes that even the U.S. front isn’t secure; an American regime in 2012 or 2016 might take to renewed active support of new ‘color revolutions’ in Moscow’s back (or front) yard.

Here’s a verbatim text:

“The official results of the just ended ‘Vostok-2010’ exercise are still being reckoned, and this will be done by the Defense Ministry.  Meanwhile, it’s already possible to make some conclusions.” 

“‘Vostok-2010’ was the largest of all in the post-Soviet period of Russian history.  More than 20 thousand men, 75 aircraft, 40 combat and auxiliary ships took part on the ground, in the air, and at sea in maneuvers conducted from Altay Kray to Vladivostok.”

“The aim of the exercise was to check the three-level command structure — operational-strategic command – operational command – brigade, and other new elements in the Armed Forces command and control and support system, and to uncover deficiencies needing correction.  An expert of the Russian Center for the Analysis of Strategies and Technologies Konstantin Makiyenko expressed his opinion on the recent maneuvers:  ‘The recent maneuvers fully refuted the propagated myth about how the army is being destroyed as a result of the actions of the current Defense Ministry leadership.  It’s obvious the army is alive and developing.  Units participating in the exercise demonstrated their combat capability, despite the fact that they are not in the ranks of the best military districts, and scarcely armed with the most modern equipment.'”

“‘It’s especially worth focusing on the good morale of the officer personnel — it’s not possible to speak of general enthusiasm, of course, but I didn’t see dim eyes among the officers.  As a group, they are interested in the success of the current reform and hope for its success.'”

“While agreeing with this point of view, one has to note that the situation with soldiers looks a little different, both RIA Novosti’s reviewer [Kramnik] and Konstantin Makiyenko have also noted this.  Very much depends on the branch of troops and the basic training of the soldiers themselves.  Contract-servicemen in a ‘Tochka-U’ operational-tactical missile launch battery look and are trained much better than conscript-soldiers in motorized rifle units.  In the words of motorized rifle officers up to the battalion commander level, the reduction in the number of contractees has negatively affected platoon and company training.  Ideally, the service term of a specialist-soldier (mechanic-driver, weapons system operator, etc.) needs to be three years, that is achievable only on the contract manning principle for these positions.”

“Speaking about the attainability of the announced goals of the reform, one can say the following:   the will of the military leadership which certainly exists, is the main component of success, a firm understanding of the goal is also obvious, and the possession of authority — it’s not possible to doubt this.  As a result, the current Defense Ministry leadership needs only time to realize its ideas.  Overall, the military reform being conducted is the most significant event of Russian history in the last ten years — since the suppression of the separatist rebellion in the North Caucasus.  The Serdyukov-Makarov reform in the military sphere is the most radical and deepest since the time of Mikhail Frunze’s reforms in the 1920s, if not since Dmitriy Milyutin in the 1860s and 1870s.”

“As proof, it’s possible to note the fact that the Defense Ministry leadership is constantly searching and ready to correct those steps which, when checked, turn out to be incorrect or unattainable in real political-economic conditions.  So, the current principles of manning the army will undergo a serious correction:  it’s obvious that neither the organization of contract service, nor, even more, the existing format of conscript service corresponds to the demands of the time.”

“Evaluating the correspondence of the Defense Ministry leadership to its missions, it’s possible to say, that at present Russia has the most appropriate military leadership since the collapse of the USSR.  At the same time, it’s obvious that the radicalism of the reform, the compressed time of its implementation, unavoidable resistance in the environment and hard economic conditions didn’t allow for avoiding a large number of mistakes and excesses.  Among the most fundamental failures it’s possible to name the collapse of the army’s transition to the contract manning principle, serious social tension arising in connection with the rapid reduction of officer personnel, the ambiguous situation with the scale of servicemen’s complaints after the introduction of the differential pay system [premium pay or Serdyukov’s Order No. 400?], the hurried and not completely thought out reform of military education and many, many other things.  It’s  particularly worth focusing on the implementation of the state armaments programs which fail one after another, not being executed in a significant part.  As a result, the lag of Russia’s Armed Forces behind the most developed countries in the level of  technical equipping continues to grow such that in conditions of a quantitative lag it could become very dangerous.  All these mistakes have to be corrected, since they impact on rudiments of the army’s combat capability.”

“For what type of wars does Russia’s new army need to prepare?  Obviously, the time of long wars between the great powers has gone into the past — nuclear weapons haven’t left chances for such a development of events.  The most probable type of conflict in which the Russian Army will be involved is a local conflict on Russia’s borders and the territory of the former USSR, in the course of which there could be clashes with the most varied enemy:  from a regular army to many bandit formations and terrorist groups.”

“In Konstantin Makiyenko’s opinion, Central Asia presents the greatest danger in the future of a possible hot conflict with Russia’s direct participation:  ‘The U.S. and NATO, obviously, are less and less controlling the Afghanistan situation, and it’s not excluded that in the foreseeable future they may have to abandon this country.  The return to power in Afghanistan of the ‘Taliban’ movement looks most realistic in the event of such a development of events.  The arrival of Islamic radicals in power would unavoidably be a catalyst for conflicts on the territory of former Soviet republics of the region already riven by contradictions.  Weak authoritarian regimes in Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, not to mention what’s become the ‘failed government’ in Kyrgyzstan, could be easy prey for the Taliban.  As a result, Russia might be forced to consider the likelihood of a large Asian conflagration which it would have to prevent, or if it didn’t succeed — extinguish, at a minimum with the aim of preserving its own internal stability.  One very much wants to believe that the reform will bear fruit before the described situation becomes a reality.'”

“Besides the described scenario it follows to study also the probability of another development of events:  as experience has shown, on the territory of former USSR republics, the rise of openly anti-Russian regimes with external support at their disposal can’t be excluded.  For today, such a situation is a low probability due to the fact that the current administration in the U.S. — the main sponsor of ‘colored revolutions,’ is clearly not inclined to continue the policy of George Bush.  However by 2012, if President Obama loses the election, the situation could change, and this risk is even greater in 2016 when the administration will change in any case.  Meanwhile, you have to note that even the Democrats remaining in power in the U.S. is not a guarantee of a peaceful life:  Obama’s point of view on a coexistence format with Russia is hardly shared by all his fellow party members.  In the worst case, a return to the next variant of Cold War and new spiral of the arms race isn’t excluded.”

“The coming decade isn’t promising Russia an easy life.  The success of military reform is all the more important.”