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German Analysis Shows Russian Military In Deep Crisis

Munich, Jan. 29 (RFE/RL) - German military experts have prepared an analysis of Russian military forces which declares they are in a deep crisis, and are operational only to a limited extent.

The analysis suggests the poor state of the armed forces negatively affects Russia's ambitions to be a world power. It says: "the capacity of the Russian Federation to act as a global power can only be evaluated as medium."

The analysis was sponsored by the German foreign office and passed to parliament's defence committee last week. Most of the details have not been disclosed, but some of the general conclusions have been published in German media.

The report was prepared before the heavily criticized operation against separatist Chechens who seized hostages in Dagestan. Military analysts in Russia, the U.S. and Europe have expressed surprise that elite military units took so long to gain control of Pervomayskaya, and even then allowed many separatists to escape with some hostages. The Moscow newspaper "Izvestia" described the botched military operation as "ten days of pain, impotence and shame."

The German analysis says it appears the Russian government can maintain only a small number of troops in a state of operational readiness, and then only with great difficulty. In regard to ground forces, the analysis says 51 of the 81 divisions are not in operational readiness. Nor are 14 of the 26 brigades. The highest standard of operational readiness is found in the two divisions assigned to peace-keeping operations.

The analysis says most Russian troops are poorly equipped. It says: "The situation in regard to supplying the troops with weapons and equipment and basic supplies has deteriorated." Without going into details, it reports a "partly dramatic worsening" of the situation.

According to the German analysis, Russia's military equipment stockpiles have fallen by a third in the last year. It specifically mentions stockpiles of fuel. Another part of the report says the authorities also have problems in providing troops adequate food -- something Russian troops complained about during the fighting at Pervomayskaya, Dagestan.

The analysis suggests that more than half the troops have not been paid for months. It says that increases the temptation to take secondary jobs or to engage in illegal business.

The analysis also reports a high suicide rate among Russian soldiers, and claims that around 2,000 have killed themselves recently. It also declares that nearly 3,000 soldiers deserted during the first half of 1995.

According to the analysis, the problems are not limited to ground forces. It says two-thirds of the aircrews have only a limited operational ability because they have had insufficient training hours. It also claims many aircraft are in such a poor state that they can only be made airworthy by cannibalizing parts from other planes. It says that, above all, the Russian airforce suffers from a shortage of fuel.

Turning to the Navy, the German analysis suggests that the Northern Fleet and the Baltic Fleet are the best-supplied. It says the Pacfic Fleet is 80 percent operationally incapable because of poor maintenance.

But the analysis gives Russia good marks in regard to chemical and nuclear weapons. It says they are maintained in secure deports under a functioning command system. It says there is no chance of an accidental or illegal use of these weapons.