Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov

Slowly but surely, Russia recovers its military power

Today, there is practically nothing left from the military-industrial complex of the USSR, which still strikes imagination of many historians around the world. The collapse of the Soviet military complex occurred after conversion and separation of the republics, where Soviet defense industry companies were located. Will Russia be able to bring back its erstwhile defense power?

Twenty years ago, the system of defense enterprises vanished. The Soviet defense industry accounted, according to various estimates, for 40 percent of the economy of the USSR. State orders for the production of arms in 1992 decreased eight times. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the need in a powerful defense industry similar to the one of the socialist period, was gone. The countries that previously were regarded as opponents, started to turn into partners. Russia's transition to the market economy led to military conversion, when many industrial companies were either transferred to the civilian sector or reconstructed in large corporations and given to private hands.

It would seem that a lot of time has passed since the collapse of the USSR, and the military and industrial complex of Russia was supposed to adjust itself to working conditions in a new state. However, Russia still has to collect its fragments in former Soviet republics. The question of defense industry cooperation became especially important at the time when Ukraine announced association intentions with the EU. Although the agreement was not signed in the autumn of 2013, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych decided not to step away from the path of European integration - he only suspended the talks. In this regard, spokespeople for the Russian Ministry for Industry and Trade expressed serious concerns for the Russian defense industry and set up an expert group to analyze adequate risks. It is quite obvious that the continuation of cooperation between Russia and Ukraine in the sphere of defense industry would jeopardize the national security of the Russian Federation, even though the EU has no intention to limit this relationship between the two countries.

The Russian authorities made a good decision to give an interest-bearing loan to Ukraine and conclude a number of agreements on this background. In fact, Viktor Yanukovych and Vladimir Putin discussed the use of Ukrainian defense industry for the needs of the armed forces of the Russian Federation, which somewhat alleviated Russia's anxiety about the defense industry of its own. 

Chief editor of National Defense magazine, Igor Korotchenko, told Pravda.Ru that it was vital for Russia to strengthen partnership with only two countries - Belarus and Ukraine.

"We have two states that have powerful military and industrial complexes. They are Ukraine and Belarus. The countries that remain hostile to Russia - the Baltic States and Georgia - fortunately, have no defense industries that Russia would be interesting in. Therefore, we will be building the policy of cooperation with only two countries - Belarus and Ukraine. I think that there are very good prospects at this point. As for Belarus, we have no problems with them at all. I also hope that the emerging policy of political and economic rapprochement between Kiev and Moscow will give birth to a number of large orders for the Ukrainian defense industry, that will work in the interests of the Russian Federation," Vladimir Korotchenko told Pravda.Ru.

During the Soviet times, the powerful military-industrial complex embraced both the regions of modern-day Russia and the republics of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. In many of these areas, military companies of the USSR became town- forming ones with civilized neighborhoods built around them. Defense enterprises were created on the basis of national integrity, taking into account the need to provide jobs to people. When integrity was no longer a priority, and the foreign policy of breakaway republics changed under the pressure of world leaders and various circumstances, many production facilities were shut down for good. That, however, was no longer a concern for Russia.

"In fact, the republics that became separate states (except, perhaps, for Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan) became quasi-states, failed independent countries that had completely lost their military complexes as corporations created in the Soviet Union," vice president of the Russian Academy of Geopolitical Problems, political scientist Vladimir Anokhin said in an interview with Pravda.Ru. "In my opinion, it is only Russia that now realizes the seriousness of creating a military-industrial complex. Everyone else have two ways to go: either become importers of military products of other countries, or find cooperative relations with Russia to act as participants in the creation of military and technical complexes. Presently, I do not see any republic, except for Ukraine, of course, that could fully cooperate with Russia in terms of defense. Therefore, the entire military-industrial complex of other former Soviet republics was actually plundered, destroyed and sold," the expert added.

In recent years, Russia's defense spending has grown along with the volume of state orders. The industry began to move in 1998, when production began to show growth through private investment. Nowadays, the situation has been showing even more obvious changes for the better. In 2008, the federal budget allocated 800 billion rubles for military- industrial needs, in 2009 - one billion more than that, in 2010 - treasury allocated 1.1 trillion of investment.

"Now Putin tries to put Russia back on the way of development. He tries to pull other countries through the Eurasian vector of Russian politics too, - President of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems of the Russian Federation, Doctor of History, Colonel General Leonid Ivashov told Pravda.Ru.. - As they say, let's hope it happens. But all these 20 years, even since Gorbachev - 25 years, were a historic zigzag: we were going ahead and then turned in the opposite direction."

The development of public and private partnership in defense industry has been a topic for discussion lately. Should Russian businesses be granted access to the nation's defense industry, it will help solve such important tasks as technical upgrade of defense enterprises and the development of promising and breakthrough technologies, without which the creation of a reliable and powerful military-industrial complex is impossible. 

Military analyst of the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper, former head of the press service of the Ministry of Defense, retired colonel Victor Barantsev told Pravda.Ru:

"Slowly but surely, we have been creating unified military space. We already have a group with Belarus, we now have a common air defense system with Kazakhstan, we have strategic interests in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Russia is doing its best to stimulate the military-industrial enterprises that work on the territory of former Soviet republics. With every year, we connect these republics to the Russian defense industry stronger." 

According to Victor Barantsev, Russia must continue to move in this direction, because this is a basis for the Collective Security Treaty and global military strategic interests in general.

Maria Snytkova


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