In early 2013, Vladimir Putin announced military reforms involving a large-scale rearmament of Russia. Putin, who noted that Russia’s perceived weakness made it vulnerable to external pressure and internal disruption, began pushing for increased funding to transform the Russian armed forces from the debilitated remnants inherited from the old Soviet superpower military machine into a smaller, but more modern, mobile, technologically advanced and capable twenty-first century force.
The Russian president said: “Ensuring Russia has a reliable military force is the priority of our state policy.” The president added that Russia was forced to take decisive steps to bolster its national aerospace defense system to counter the U.S. and NATO efforts in the deployment of missile defense. In order to do this, Russia embarked on a large-scale and comprehensive re-equipment of the Army, Navy and other military services.
This is not empty talk. The rhetoric has been matched by a concurrent allocation of resources; Russia is now engaged in its largest military buildup since the collapse of the Soviet Union more than two decades ago, with major increases in defense spending budgeted each year to 2020.
In the last eighteen months, Russia conducted military exercises on a scale not seen since the end of the Cold War.
In February this year Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an urgent military drill to test the combat readiness of the armed forces across western and central Russia to be effected in two stages from February 26 until March 3. The drill includes troops dealing with mock security and terrorist threats. As part of the test, several drills will be held on Russian borders with other countries, including with Ukraine. The second stage involves an opposing-force exercise with the participation of Russia’s Northern and Baltic fleet and bomb strike drills. A comprehensive inspection of Interior Ministry troops was also ordered.
While Western media was quick to connect the drill to the situation in Ukraine, such exercises were proposed by Putin as early as last September and followed massive 2013 drills. Sergey Shoigu, Russia’s Defense Minister, was also quick to let journalists know that the drills were not connected in any way with the current events in Ukraine.
The 2020 Rearmament Program
The Russian government has reportedly allocated 20 trillion rubles ($640 billion) for a comprehensive rearmament of the Armed Forces that will see the share of modern weaponry reach 30 percent by 2015, and surpass 70 percent by 2020.
It seems that Russia’s military is back and the rest of the world is taking notice. Russian plans for military reform and rearmament have generated some concern, particularly in the U.S. The Washington Times reported that the Pentagon took notice of Russia’s nuclear training exercise in late February 2013, its largest in 20 years.
In June 2013, Russia’s Defense Ministry disclosed details of the timing of its plan to increase the share of modern weapons in the armed forces to 70 percent by 2020. Russian plans certainly look impressive—and ominous.
If, only a few years ago, the shipbuilding budget for the Russian navy was less than 10 percent of the U.S. Navy, the Russians have now closed the gap and are, in terms of budgetary outlays, spending about half of what will be allocated to the U.S. Navy for new ship construction. By 2020, the Russian army will be structured around combat-ready and easily deployable brigades, with a goal of having those forces at least 70 percent equipped with next-generation weaponry and equipment.
If all goes according to plan, the Russian military, by 2020, will return to a million active-duty personnel, backed up by 2300 new tanks, some 1200 new helicopters and planes, with a navy fielding fifty new surface ships and twenty-eight submarines, with one hundred new satellites designed to augment Russia’s communications, command and control capabilities.
The proportion of new military aircraft will increase to 56 percent by 2017, while modern helicopters will comprise 76 percent of the fleet by the same date. It was also revealed that the proportion of modern submarines should be 47 percent by the end of 2014. That figure is due to grow to 51 percent in 2015, before reaching the target of 70 percent by 2020.
Russia’s ambitious 2011-2020 arms procurement program stipulates the upgrade of up to 11 percent of military equipment annually and will allow the country to increase the share of modern weaponry in the Armed Forces to 70 percent by 2020.
Russia’s Defense Goals For The Decade
So what exactly is the Russian military buying?
Among the Russian Navy acquisitions of the next-generation nuclear submarines are the Akula Project 971 which are virtually undetectable in the ocean depths. American and British sailors are well aware of how dangerous these submarines are. They have been sighted several times in the coastal waters of the UK, the U.S., and Canada, but could not be tracked or escorted.
Also acquired were the first two complete missile brigades of the Iskander-M tactical system, which has the capability of destroying missiles, long-range artillery, air and missile defense systems, aircraft on airfields, command posts and communications, including underground and other important small and area-type targets — all with equal effectiveness.
The reforms, which will involve much higher public spending on the military, aim to implement the foundational principles of building a modern mobile army centered on nuclear containment as opposed to a high-maintenance Soviet-style army aimed at territorial warfare.
The list of priorities covers nuclear forces, aerospace defense, systems of communication, intelligence, control and radio warfare, unmanned aerial vehicles and combat units, state-of-the-art transport aviation, personal protective gear, high-precision weapons and means of countering them.
In addition to this there will be a deployment of more than 400 advanced ground and sea-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, eight nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines, some 20 multi-purpose submarines, more than 50 combat ships, some 100 military spacecraft, more than 600 advanced aircraft including fifth-generation fighters, more than a thousand helicopters, 28 regimental kits of the S-400 anti-aircraft missile system, 38 battalion kits of the Vityaz air defense system, 10 brigade kits of the Iskander-M ballistic missile system, more than 2,300 modern tanks, some 2,000 self-propelled artillery vehicles and guns, and more than 17,000 military motor vehicles.
Some of the key 2020 rearmament goals are:
- To revive a Navy capable of service in the Arctic Ocean and in the Pacific in order to secure its interests in the region.
- To acquire high-precision high-end weaponry and combat equipment.
- To equip the Russian Armed Forces with next generation armaments, which boast better visibility, higher precision and faster response than the similar systems of any potential adversary.
- To reform strategic analysis for national defense by having foresight and the ability to estimate threats 30-50 years in advance.
- To produce high-precision long-range conventional weapons that can also later be used for strategic nuclear containment purposes.
- To have a permanent operational unit of five to six ships from Russia’s Black Sea fleet stationed in the Mediterranean and similar units formed to navigate the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
- To develop and create a common national system of air and space defense that will counter the antiaircraft systems of, above all, the USA and NATO.
- To build 100 new military bases and airfields to accommodate new weapon systems.
Not long ago, Russia declared modernization through cooperation with the West as a key priority; why then is the country militarizing itself today?
NATO has every reason to be concerned about these developments. The North Atlantic alliance’s ability to conduct “out-of-area” operations, combined with the decision by most European countries to significantly reduce their defense spending, was predicated on an assumption that Russia no longer poses a threat, and now, Russia seems to be effectively reversing its “disarmed” condition of the 1990s upon which such calculations were based.
By blocking the NATO aspirations of its post-Soviet neighbors, the Kremlin is promoting its own conception of integration with the West.
Russia’s militarization is also a source of concern for some East European countries that are NATO members, above all Poland and the Baltic states.
Geographically, Russia sees itself as “a guarantor of stability” in Eurasia, and therefore the primarily resource-rich Arctic and the Asian-Pacific become high-priority regions.
At a time of escalated tensions with the West over Ukraine, Russia is negotiating with eight governments around the world for access to military facilities to enable it to extend its long-range naval and strategic bomber capabilities.
In a move to expand Russia’s global influence, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said the military was engaged in talks with Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Algeria, Cyprus, the Seychelles, Vietnam and Singapore. Russia is not looking to establish bases in those locations, but to reach agreement to use facilities there when required.
The countries are all strategically located – in three leftist-ruled countries close to the U.S.; towards either end of the Mediterranean; in the Indian Ocean south of the Gulf of Aden; and near some of the world’s most important shipping lanes in the Malacca Strait and South China Sea.
Access to the new locations would extend the Russian military’s potential reach well beyond its existing extraterritorial bases, at the Syrian port of Tartus and in former Soviet states – Ukraine’s Sevastopol, Armenia, Belarus, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and the occupied Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Russia is now helping Vietnam to upgrade facilities at Cam Ranh Bay, including a submarine training center, and negotiating for preferential access to refueling and repair facilities there for its ships.
The Russian military is growing stronger and is strategically restoring its conventional capabilities to back up claims to great power status. Although Russia may not be in a position to directly challenge the United States, the question is how this newfound confidence will play out in the international arena. The Ukraine crisis may just be the first of many tests to come.
Read more at http://www.prophecynewswatch.com/2014/March04/042.html#d5WyuAzYGWO2l08R.99