Tag Archives: Military Pay

Kremlin Raising Military Pay

Deputy Defense Minister Tatyana Shevtsova told journalists on Friday that military pay and pensions will increase four percent per annum in 2018, 2019, and 2020. RIA Novosti reported that the defense budget will include 18, 22.6, and 41.2 billion rubles each year for that purpose.

Kremlin Raising Military Pay

Shevtsova said a lieutenant serving as a platoon commander will make 66,100 rubles on average this month. That’s roughly 2,500 rubles more than he earned each month in 2017. A lieutenant colonel battalion commander will add 3,400 rubles making his pay 88,700 per month.

It’s sounds like four percent is being applied to the entire pay package — to rank and duty pay and to supplements [надбавки] that not all serviceman get. If this is the case, four percent won’t have the same monthly impact for officers and contractees not receiving supplemental pay. Past pay increases have typically applied only to rank and duty pay.

Shevtsova’s 18 billion would provide an extra 30,000 rubles a year for 600,000 officers and contractees, but 41.2 billion in 2020 won’t cover that year’s bill. A lieutenant might get an extra 8,000 per month or 96,000 in 2020. Multiply that times 600,000 and the MOD will need 57.6 billion rubles.

Shevtsova says a retired battalion commander will receive an extra 947, 1,932, and 2,956 rubles in his pension every month in 2018, 2019, and 2020. That means the pension for that lieutenant colonel is 23,675 rubles at present. The increase reportedly will go to 2.6 million military pensioners, according to RIA Novosti.

As NVO noted, in June 2017, Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin addressed military pay publicly for the first time since 2012. It hasn’t been indexed for inflation once during the interval according to NVO.

But Putin said he wants to improve the “material stimulus” for the MOD, MVD, FSB, and SVR. With another presidential election looming, he wanted to show he’s still concerned about men in uniform.

This isn’t easy when the federal budgets scarcely have money for it and economic recovery is weak.

Still four percent raises will be welcome. But they won’t make up for the eroded purchasing power of military pay. The CPI in Russia has increased more than 50 percent since May 2012. 

Military men are doing reasonably well in the Russian economic context now.

Shevtsova claimed the average monthly military salary in 2014 was 62,000 rubles, roughly the same as in 2017. She said that was 10 percent more than average pay in Russia’s oil and gas sector, according to RIA Novosti. It also appears to exceed what’s paid to the average worker in defense industries.

As long as that pay arrives on time, their housing needs are met, and their work is the focus of national resources and attention, servicemen should be satisfied with their lot. So it’s interesting that Putin still felt a military pay increase was needed in an election year. But, as some say, campaign promises are made to be broken.


Army’s Protest Mood (Follow Up)

You may recall Prime Minister Putin’s February trip to Kaliningrad, where he heard complaints about the lack of apartments and low pensions for ex-servicemen.  Today Besttoday.ru publicized video of the once-and-future president’s meeting with Kaliningrad veterans’ organization representative General-Major Kosenkov. 

Who knows where this clip’s been until now.  But, at the time, Putin’s handlers apparently decided it wouldn’t be good PR, and kept it under wraps.

The video’s become a minor sensation because it shows Putin dismissively ripping an appeal from former officers and soldiers.  Besttoday shows both a more inflammatory short clip, ending with Putin tearing the paper, and the longer clip above where Putin talks about raising pensions this year. 

As one blogger sees it:

“For the edification of those still expecting something from Putin.  You think someone is reading your complaint letters, petitions, etc.?  Then watch the video closely once more.”

“Enough with sitting by the TV and listening to cheap stories!!!”

A little context is needed . . . Kosenkov doesn’t associate himself with the paper he shows Putin.  It’s just an example, a warning about what’s being said and circulated.  We don’t even know exactly what it said.

Kosenkov represents a domesticated, acceptable group deserving of an audience with the prime minister.  Hence, the former general-major doesn’t bat an eye when Putin tears the paper.  But perhaps Putin’s just a little too quick to take offense at this appeal.  He didn’t have to look at it, or he could’ve just put it down without reacting.

At any rate, the Russian blogosphere is abuzz today because tearing the paper exemplifies and personifies Putin’s disdain for his uncontrolled, noncompliant opponents who are impudent enough to offend him with their manifestoes, placards, demonstrations, and disobedience.

But back to the army writ large . . . yes, parts of it are oozing some discontent, but they still generally don’t fall into the same category as political opponents of Putin’s quasi-authoritarian regime.  They just don’t have much in common with anti-Putin forces.

And Putin’s delivering on his promise to raise military pensions.  The new pay law just passed its third Duma reading.  It reportedly contains, on average, a 60 percent increase for retired servicemen.  This is supposed to take the average military pension from about 10,000 rubles per month (about the same as the average labor pension) to about 17,000.  And retirees have been promised semiannual indexation for inflation in the new pay law.

But one could point out that the new pay system will increase active duty pay by 200 and 300 percent, and will divide former and current servicemen financially, socially, and politically.  But suffice it to say that Vladimir Mukhin’s original article on “candy for the military electorate” was on-the-money.  

Parts of a couple quotes he provided bear repeating:

“‘In 2000, when Vladimir Putin became President, military pensions were on average three times more than civilian ones.  Now they are much lower.  Who stopped the current authorities from keeping our pensions at the previous level?'”

“‘[Increased defense expenditures] will lead to increased problems in the economy.  Or is there a possibility that militarization [i.e. rearmament] simply won’t occur, and this means the military’s negative attitude in society will exacerbate further.'”

Mukhin on the Army’s Protest Mood

According to Nezavisimaya gazeta’s Vladimir Mukhin, Defense Minister Serdyukov has lost the confidence of his bosses, as well as his carte blanche to reform the Armed Forces.  NG’s Kremlin source claims Serdyukov’s initiatives will be vetted at higher levels (i.e. the Sovbez and President) in the future.  But can there really be any initiatives left at this point?  Isn’t it all either implementation or reversal at this point?

President Medvedev’s press-secretary quickly denied that responsibility for military reform is being transferred elsewhere, and insisted it remains with the Supreme Commander-in-Chief and his Defense Minister (but what about Putin?).  She called Mukhin’s report a “lie,” and said only Medvedev and Serdyukov answer for Armed Forces reform, while others just “contribute to it.”

Mukhin covers Putin’s trip to Kaliningrad about military housing where he was told about discontent among military retirees and he promised a 50-70 percent increase in their pensions.  General-Lieutenant Netkachev blames Putin for letting military pensions slip from three times to barely equal to a normal labor pension.

Mukhin’s final interlocutor cites Finance Minister Kudrin on the cost of these political promises to the military increasing Russia’s defense burden from 3 to 4.5 percent of its GDP.

It’s worth including all of Mukhin’s article:

“Election Candy for the Military Electorate.  The Party of Power Struggles for the Votes of Veterans and Servicemen.”

“The fundamental steps connected with reforming the army will now be implemented not by the military department itself, but by the Security Council (SB), where the main director of this work will be the Deputy Secretary of the SB, ex-Chief of the General Staff Yuriy Baluyevskiy.  A Kremlin source has told ‘NG’ such information.  It notes that in its responsibilities, the Sovbez is charged with supervising the general work of the government and power structures in creating a positive image of the main activities of military organizational development, especially in the social sphere for officers and retirees and their family members.”
“So it is that the carte blanche given to Anatoliy Serdyukov several years ago by Vladimir Putin for a radical reorganization of the country’s Armed Forces is now canceled.  Further reforms will be agreed at a higher level and, of course, with the participation of Dmitriy Medvedev’s team.  As an SB source notes, Prime Minister and United Russia leader Vladimir Putin agreed to such steps for two reasons.  First, the image of the country’s military-political leadership was recently severely shaken, and the protest mood among a large number of serving military personnel and retirees is growing.  Taking into account the experience of the Arab revolutions, the tandem, apparently, decided to secure itself.  Secondly, the electoral battle has pushed the party of power to correct steps in the army’s reform and especially in social issues.”

“Vladimir Putin’s 23 February trip to Kaliningrad, where he, along with General Staff Chief Nikolay Makarov, Deputy Defense Minister Grigoriy Naginskiy, and other government officials met about the housing problems of servicemen and where he met with residents as UR leader, was evidently connected to these factors.  These meetings happened at the same moment when on Poklonnaya Gora in the capital, the Union of Airborne of Russia (SDR) demanded the Defense Minister’s resignation, when on the Arbat [location of the Defense Ministry’s buildings] under the flags of [the political party] ‘Yabloko,’ military retirees demonstrated demanding doubled pensions, when on Pushkin Square in Moscow and Lenin Square in St. Petersburg communist-veterans demanded a solution to the housing problems of servicemen.  Television didn’t show these and other protest actions, occurring in many regions, at all.  On the other hand, all central television channels broadcast Putin’s visit to Kaliningrad.”

“Against this background, ‘Finans’ magazine published its latest list of [ruble] billionaires in Russia, where under number 163 current Deputy Defense Minister and United Russia activist Gregoriy Naginskiy was noted.  On the list, he is noted as founder of the engineering firm ‘Titan-2’ which is involved in construction.  His personal wealth is estimated at 20.7 billion rubles.  We note that in the Defense Ministry Naginskiy is also in charge of construction issues.”

“At a meeting with Putin, one of the leaders of the Kaliningrad veterans movement, former chief of the 11th Army’s political department, General-Major Boris Kosenkov handed the Premier a ‘little extremist manifesto’ being disseminated among veterans in Kaliningrad.  At the same time, talking about low pensions for retirees, the general stressed that ‘a very tense situation is being created in our veterans’ organization structures and political parties are even using this problem in the election campaign.’  As is well-known, there’s no such thing as a former political worker, and the veteran precisely seized the moment to enlighten the Premier about the mood among military pensioners.  Vladimir Putin had no choice but to agree with the fact that ‘really the situation with pension support for servicemen doesn’t correspond to the principles on which it was formed in previous years.  And according to recent data, for about 40% of military pensioners (or, maybe, even a little more), the pension is already either equal, or even a little less than a labor pension.’  Putin immediately promised that the ‘increase in military pensions will be substantial.  It will be an increase of about 1.5 times, about in the range of 70%.’”

“‘Let them, of course, raise pensions.  But now this looks like pure PR,’ believes General-Lieutenant Yuriy Netkachev, advisor to the Association of Social Defense for Veterans of ‘Rus’ Special Sub-Units.  ‘In 2000, when Vladimir Putin became President, military pensions were on average three times more than civilian ones.  Now they are much lower.  Who stopped the current authorities from keeping our pensions at the previous level?'”

“Academy of Military Sciences Correspondent-Member Colonel Eduard Rodyukov draws attention to another fact.  ‘In Kaliningrad, Putin promised to allocate another 150 billion rubles to solve all the housing problems of servicemen and military pensioners.  President Dmitriy Medvedev has once again pledged that from 2012 the salaries of officers will increase several times. In Finance Minister Aleksey Kudrin’s opinion, all these transformations, as well as realization of rearmament programs, which the President and Prime Minister proudly proclaim, will require increased defense spending of at least 1.5% of the country’s gross domestic product.  That is the total expenditures in the military budget next year will be 4.5% of GDP.  For comparison:  in the U.S. about 3.5% of GDP is spent on defense.’  Rodyukov draws attention to the fact that in Russia wars are not foreseen in the near future.  But spending on defense will be very great.  ‘This will lead to increased problems in the economy.  Or is there a possibility that militarization simply won’t occur, and this means the military’s negative attitude in society will exacerbate further.’ Rodyukov supposes.”