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Russia: Russian Army Facing 'Uncontrollable Developments'

Moscow, 25 October 1996 (RFE/RL) - Russian Defense Minister Igor Rodionov says Russia's cash-strapped military is on the brink of "uncontrollable developments".

Rodionov, quoted by Russian news agencies, told army veterans in Moscow today that a chronic lack of funds, appalling social conditions and poor maintenance were leading to a "severe crisis" in the armed forces. "If the 1997 draft budget is not changed, Russia may lose the armed forces as an integral and active state structure," he said.

Rodionov also said the 1997 draft budget covered only one-third of the minimum needs of the armed forces. In a closed meeting yesterday, the Russian government discussed modifications in the draft budget, rejected last week by Parliament. The version reportedly discussed at yesterday's meeting contained a new item for military reform, including some $12 billion to finance cuts in the army.

Rodionov also voiced his support for the idea of reforming the largely ineffective armed forces. He said the reforms " must correspond to the threats Russia is facing or might face in the future." He added that the power of Russia's armed forces "should be well known to any potential enemy."

During his re-election campaign, President Boris Yeltsin spoke of turning Russia's conscript army into a professional force by the year 2000 but was later postponed to the year 2005.