Still parsing reaction to Prime Minister Putin’s manifesto on the army . . . there are lots of positive reviews and recapitulations. But commentators who don’t exactly agree with Putin are far more interesting and illuminating.
One particularly fitting this description is Konstantin Makiyenko, who makes succinct, obvious, and bravely ventured points.
Makiyenko, Deputy Director of CAST, is by no means anti-regime. He is, however, honest. His observations appeared in Interfaks-AVN, and you can read them courtesy of VPK.name.
He concludes simply that Russia may not have the resources for the plan of major army and defense industry modernization Putin laid out in his campaign article:
“The Russian economic system, which, with oil prices at 100 dollars a barrel, provides only four percent GDP growth, isn’t capable of being the base for realizing the plans outlined.”
AVN says Makiyenko doesn’t exclude that, owing to insufficient budgetary resources, the Finance Ministry will have to work out plans for future cuts in spending on national defense. But, at the same time, he apparently said Putin’s manifesto on the army wasn’t populist, and he has ”no objection” to majority of the Premier’s proposals.
But Makiyenko lays down a sharp, if understated, critique of Putin’s stewardship of Russia’s defenses since 1999. Agreeing that nuclear deterrence has been the only guarantee of Russia’s security, Makiyenko continues:
“In this relation, the current situation is in no way different from the state of affairs in the 1990s, when, as it’s justly noted in [Putin's] article, ‘other weighty material arguments didn’t exist.’”
“. . . adequately evaluating the situation now, one has to admit that even today other ‘material arguments’ haven’t appeared for Russia during the last 12 years.”
“In this connection, the thought about how one should particularly attentively follow the appearance of new technical means, for example MD systems and long-range, precision non-nuclear means, capable of devaluing Russia’s nuclear deterrence potential, are very important.”
So, conventional weakness drives Russian objections to MD, one supposes.
AVN also indicated Makiyenko is skeptical of Putin’s call for public-private partnerships and more private capital investment in the OPK given that the once-and-future Supreme CINC nationalized first-class companies like Irkut and Saturn.