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Poor Russian army squanders money

A session of the Russian army officers presided by Supreme Commander-in-Chief Vladimir Putin took place in Moscow November 17. Defense Minister Sergey Ivanov told the generals the Russian army was almost unfit for action.

He explained the deplorable situation in the army with improper financing of purchase and upgrading of weapons and equipment. It is an open secret that today military equipment purchases are as rare as they were in autumn of 1941. However, several experts explain the problem rather with the way priorities are set in the sphere.

Indeed, the governmental defense purchase order for 2005 is in fact unbalanced. Together with T-90 tanks and Iskander tactical complexes that are important for the army, the order also provides for purchase of about one hundred of BTR-80 armored troop vehicles that seem to be outdated today. A year ago, new BTR-90 armored troop vehicles underwent successful testing, but the vehicle is not included into the governmental defense purchase order.

Experts are even more surprised why Tu-160 strategic bomber was not included into the purchase order as well. The bomber’s performance is even better than that of some foreign analogues. But does it make sense to spend money on the symbol? Unfortunately, several superior bombers will not improve Russia’s nuclear control against the background of the wonderful air defense of our probable rivals.

Will Tu-160 help Russia fight international terrorism the way it is being done in this country? In other words, the purchase order seems to be a mere waste of much money. During the Soviet epoch, Tu-160 cost one billion of Soviet rubles; today the price equals to $1 billion.  

The money could have been spent in a better way. Military establishment experts stick to a different point of view. Unlike developed countries of the world, Russia has no research programs for development of unmanned aircrafts that are important for the army and the special service today. Meantime, the US army budget sets priority on unmanned vehicles that are considered to be weapons of the future. Over $700 million is appropriated for such researches, almost the same sum the Russian army supposes to spend on purchase of one Tu-160.     

This is strange that military men are in the habit of squandering money at the time when the army budget is so small. An anonymous participant of coordination of the federal program for switching military units in some military circuit to a contractual basis told PRAVDA.Ru that the error in estimates was $10 million at that. To compare, the vis-а-vis said the error in estimates made just hundreds of thousands of dollars in the investment program of a large holding that had a comparable amount of investments. So it is no wonder that the defense minister requests correcting the army budget twice a year. It seems that the army cannot save money at all. 

That was rather strange that Defense Minister Sergey Ivanov turned out to be dubious as concerning appropriation of extra $2 billion for development of new equipment and military technique approved by President Putin. He said in his turn that defense establishments and research institutions should invest their projects themselves the way it is done everywhere in the world.

Probably Sergey Ivanov builds his opinion on the research recently conduced by law-enforcement authorities. The research says that for several years already the Russian military establishment has been employing effective schemes to seize money the government appropriates for defense programs. The Delovaya Nedelya newspaper reports with reference to the research that directors of research institutions are often at the same time directors of private companies contributing in development of new weapons. As a result, these companies get money for the work done by research institutions. As it turned out, up to 70 per cent of money appropriated by the government was stolen this way. Unfortunately, this has become a really popular way for accomplishment the defense order.

Even though Sergey Ivanov emphasizes the importance of curtailing the financing of defense research institutions, experts are sure the army today is suffering from stealing and incompetence. The situation may be improved with some radical measures that are even more drastic than army reforming.

Sergey Malinin

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