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Russia: Defense Minister Says Reform Plan Ready, But Requires Money

Moscow, 16 December 1996 (RFE/RL) -- Russian Defense Minister Igor Rodionov said in an interview published today that a plan to reform Russia's armed forces is ready, but cannot be implemented without more money from the government.

Rodionov told the Russian daily Nezavisimaya Gazeta that no reform would be possible without adequate financing. He called the 1997 budget, which was passed by parliament in a first reading yesterday, "totally inadequate." The version of the budget which passed yesterday's initial legislative hurdle contains more money for the army than the previous draft.

Rodionov said he would soon submit the reform plan to the presidential Defense Council. He said the State Duma's defense commitee would also receive a copy.

Rodionov offered no concrete details, but outlined five priorities for the armed forces. He said these would be to ensure Russia's nuclear deterrence capability, to optimize the use of manpower, to equip soldiers with modern weapons, to streamline the command system and to make the military an institution capable of drawing top minds.

Rodionov bemoaned the Russian armed forces' current financial problems, which he said meant that many soldiers had to make do without pay and many military families had to often go hungry.