Russia: The Revival of the Military-Industrial Complex

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April 4, 2006: Russia will no longer try to maintain nuclear warhead, or missile, parity with the United States. During the Cold War, Russia spent billions to build more, or at least as many, nuclear weapons and missiles as the United States. The new policy is to maintain only enough missiles and warheads to provide the deterrent (attack us and we will still be able to nuke you) effect. By treaty, the U.S. and Russia have agreed to cut their nuclear arsenals to less than 2,200 warheads by 2012.

April 3, 2006: In another move to revive defense research, the government will double the salaries of government researchers starting May 1st. In addition, future raises will be based on performance, not seniority. The government funds a lot of basic research, as well as development of new technologies and military equipment. Over the last decade, Russia has lost thousands of these government scientists to commercial and foreign firms, that paid more money.

April 2, 2006: Plans to reduce mandatory military service from two years to one year by 2008 are running into problems. The main one is that, in order to do this, more people have to be conscripted. So the government is doing away with many current exemptions. Draft dodging has reached epidemic proportions, and the military is also reducing the proportion of troops who are draftees. But it won't be possible, financially, to replace all conscripts, with much higher paid volunteers, for another decade.

April 1, 2006: Arms exports exceeded earlier estimates, and totaled $6 billion in 2005. Russian arms manufacturers have nearly $20 billion in orders to fill over the next few years, indicating that arms sales will continue to grow. The 2005 figures are 20 percent higher than in 2004. Although most of the sales go to a few countries (mainly China and India), Russia exported to 61 countries last year.

March 31, 2006: The UN agreed to keep its peacekeepers in Georgia for another six months, as Russia agreed that it would pull its peacekeeping troops out of areas held by separatists. Georgia and Russia have been at odds over the Georgian separatists, and how the Russian peacekeepers were actually defending the separatists.

March 30, 2006: Recent elections in Belarus and Ukraine have shown that pro-Russian segments of the population are still large. But not large enough. In Belarus, the current, pro-Russian, dictator had to rig the vote to win. In Ukraine, the pro-Russian candidates came on strong in recent elections, but are still out numbered by anti-Russian factions (which are not as united as they used to be, but are still more numerous than the pro-Russian groups.)

March 29, 2006: The United States is demanding that Russia respond to allegations, based on captured Iraqi documents, that Russia covertly assisted Saddam Hussein with intelligence data on American activities. The Russians deny everything, but the U.S. wants them to be more specific. At stake is future cooperation between American and Russian intelligence agencies. This sort of cooperation has been vital in areas like counter-terrorism.

 

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